Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien addressed the local and some national media today to field questions regarding yesterday’s win against the Chicago Bears, next week’s matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the overall state of affairs with the team.
O’Brien touched on the biggest health concern most Texans fans have right now by saying Brian Cushing knows how to come back and what he needs to do to come back from this type of injury; O’Brien said Cushing would be back "sooner rather than later". O’Brien went on to say Cushing let him know he’d be in the building all week to help the team prepare for Kansas City and to help impress upon the rookies and others who weren’t around for last year’s playoff debacle just what they’re up against when the team kicks off next Sunday.
O’Brien made sure to touch on second string ILB Max Bullough and how he did a nice job stepping up to fill Cushing’s role. When asked if we could expect to see All-Pro tackle Duane Brown back this week, O’Brien immediately answered, "No." He didn’t elaborate, and the tone of his voice seemed to stifle any further talk of Brown’s condition and availability.
In speaking of more general things, the Texans’ head coach touched on how dynamic Houston’s defense was, mentioning how they almost take a "roulette wheel" approach to play-calling, making sure things change from first to second to third downs and from third down to the next third down in order to keep opponents guessing. He ended that line of thought with, "I’d hate to have to call plays against our defense."
A question arose about new quarterback Brock Osweiler’s performance and O’Brien replied by saying, "We watched the tape and we were pleased with Brock." He added that one thing people need to remember is that this is [Brock’s] first time as a full-time starter. He’s not a rookie, but has never been the full-time starter before. O’Brien continued by saying he felt Osweiler moved well in the pocket, made the proper reads, and overall did a good job. He did mention they needed to work on the quarterback sneak, as Osweiler didn’t get low enough on his one attempt.
When asked about starting center Greg Mancz, O’Brien said, "He graded out well" and called him a tough guy with a lunch pail mentality.
The questioning turned to the run game when a reporter mentioned that it started off strong but then waned in the second half. O’Brien seemed almost offended by the comment and seemed to imply in a diplomatic way that the reporter didn’t know what he was talking about. He elaborated that towards the end of the game, the Texans weren’t trying to hit a home run but merely trying to grind the clock out. He felt the offensive line and Lamar Miller did a good job, though he added that the run game wasn’t where it needed to be yet.
The questions then turned to the Kansas City Chiefs and specifically how Houston would handle Travis Kelce and the Chiefs’ corps of running backs, who are all proficient in the passing game. O’Brien was very complimentary of Kelce, saying he had a good combination of size, strength, and athleticism, ultimately calling him one of the best tight ends in the league. O’Brien went on to say they needed to study tape to know who in the Chiefs’ running back corps would be deployed on passing downs and then figuring out how to make sure they were covered.
O’Brien’s respect for Kansas City was very evident.
Someone brought up Will Fuller and the now infamous dropped pass that would have been six points. O’Brien smirked and said Fuller feels worse about that drop than he feels happy about all the other catches.
In the end, O’Brien seemed pleased with the result of the game, but was very aware of the work that needed to be done to continue to get this team to play at the level of their potential.
While very few teams ever achieve that long-term, if O’Brien can get the Texans to do that for just six or seven games starting around Week Ten, the Lombardi Trophy will arrive in Houston for the Super Bowl and never leave.