Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien took the podium for his last Monday after press conference of the 2016 season.
His emotional state during the season was often on his sleeve in these conferences, but yesterday’s seemed to be more of a going-through-the-motions sort of things. It’s not unexpected, as the let down of losing in New England once again to end the season certainly had to be epically deflating for O’Brien.
One oddity of the conference, however, was no mention of the impending fate of now former OC George Godsey who left the team a short few hours after the presser.
For those who missed it, here’s the transcript in it’s entirety:
Opening Statement “It’s been a short time since the game so I haven’t really had a lot of time to reflect on the year. But I will say that I’m very proud of this team. This team fought hard. Like I said after the game, a bunch of good guys in that locker room. Only one team in the NFL ends the season happy. So when you lose in the playoffs, it’s a terrible feeling. It’s a terrible feeling. It’s an empty feeling. Give a lot of credit to the Patriots, they executed better than we did. We can build on it. We can build on it. There were a lot of things that happened this year that were good, some things that weren’t so good. We feel like every year we’ve been here, we’ve made improvement as it relates to winning a playoff game and winning the division again, so there’s some things to really build on. I’m really not ready to give you a list of things that we’re going to work on. I don’t know where your questions are headed. I’m just telling you I don’t really have a lot of answers. We’ll evaluate the whole team. We evaluate everything. That’s what every team does in the offseason and that hasn’t even begun yet. Players are just checking out right now. We’ll begin all those evaluation processes throughout the week. So with that, I’ll open it up to questions.”
Would you consider drafting a quarterback this offseason if there’s one available that you like?“We’re so far from – absolutely so far removed from even answering that question. Right now, what we do is we sit down and we evaluate our team. We evaluate everything we do. Then we get with the personnel people. We talk about all the things we need to do to improve – coaching, playing, everything. So that’s not even a question I can begin to answer.”
Is there an update on DE J.J. Watt? “No idea about the time table for the offseason but I can tell you he’s doing well. He’s in there working very hard to get better. He’s been in there every day. You can see him out on the field running, you can see him doing different things in the weight room. So to no one’s surprise, I’m sure that he is ahead of schedule.”
Do you look forward to how good the defense can be next year?“Next year is a totally different year. I mean, every year is just nothing like the previous year. So I don’t even begin to think about comparing this year to next year. I thought the defense played well this year. Looking forward to evaluating and trying to get better.”
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel’s contract is up. Will he be back next season?“Again, we evaluate everything. I think that Romeo has done a great job. I know that we would love to have him back. I know that. But I haven’t even sat down with any of the coaches yet or anything like that. But I can tell you Romeo is a great football coach and just means a lot to me personally. We would love to have Romeo back here.”
Obviously, you will have to evaluate things and make decisions, but right now do you plan to retain Offensive Coordinator George Godsey next season? “We’re looking at everything. Look, George does a lot of good stuff for me - every coach does. I have even met with Bob (McNair) yet. I haven’t met with Rick (Smith) yet. We look at everything. Every coach is evaluated. I’m evaluated. I haven’t even heard about my evaluation from the owner. Look, I expect to be here next year, but we will begin the evaluation process here in a minute. Now, don’t take that and run with it either. I’m going to be the head coach here next year. Again, just trying to inject some humor into it, but again it will be a headline. Everything is evaluated and that’s the process that starts here this afternoon.”
When it comes to doing a self-evaluation, what would you like to do better as the head coach?“Look, again, the questions are good and I know you guys have a job to do, but I’m not going to sit up here and list. There are so many things every day that I learn in this game. I learn something every day and I never have a feeling of entitlement. I hate that word and I can’t stand people that feel like they are entitled. So, I don’t want to ever feel entitled. There are thousands of things that I can get better at – work harder at this, work harder at that, try to do as good of a job as I can to end the season on a winning note at some point in time. That’s the goal. So far we haven’t been able to do that. We’ve made improvements, but it hasn’t been enough. In this league, it’s only about one thing. We’ve got to figure out how to get there and it does start with me, but I’m not going to get into the list of all the things I can improve. I try to improve every day.”
What’s the biggest lesson you learned after looking back at the 2016-2017 Texans as a head coach?“I learn lessons every day, I really do. I learn lessons about everything from practice schedules to meeting schedules to how to deal with the staff, the medical people, personnel people. I don’t know. I’m not, like I said, I haven’t really had a chance to really reflect on the whole year. Like I said, I’m going to work hard to try to get better myself. It’s going to start with me getting better and then hopefully everybody else can get better.”
CB A.J. Bouye said he would like to be back next year. Just you’re thoughts on A.J. and how did this season.“Free agency is tough and I can tell you that we want A.J. Bouye back. He’s one of us, you know what I mean? He’s a guy that was undrafted before we got here and when we came here, based on his own work ethic, the coaching from John Butler, the guy has done an excellent job. I mean, I would tell you that just in talking to people around the league that I really trust that I think he’s viewed as a top corner. We really want him back and hopefully we can get something done where he can be back, but it’s tough. These decisions are personal decisions, but all of them are tough on both sides, but we would love to have A.J. back.”
When it comes to the quarterback position, will there be a competition this offseason for the starting job? “Again, like I was saying, I know you guys are doing your job and I respect that, but before I talk about those types of things, I have to evaluate it myself. I have to talk to our coaching staff and get their input. Our personnel people and get their input. I wouldn’t be a good head coach if I stood up here and told you, ‘Hey, this is what we are planning to do.’ The game was less than 48 hours ago. We are going to evaluate everything. We are going to do the best we can to field a good, competitive team, a better team, a more consistent team than we did this year.”
What are a couple things you guys did well that you were the happiest with?“I think we play hard. I think we play very tough. I think when you line up against us, that’s the probably the thing that makes me the most proud to be with these guys. I know some people would say that should be the case in the NFL but I think when you line up against the Houston Texans you know you’re in for a 60-minute fight. I think that’s probably the thing that makes me the most proud to be associated with these guys in that locker room.”
You mentioned after the game you can’t give up a kickoff return for touchdown and expect to win a playoff game. How much better do you have to be in coverages?“Again, we’re going to go back and evaluate everything, but as it relates to the overall kicking game, there are times this year when it looked really good. I mean, our return game looked good, our coverage units looked good. But then there were times like on Saturday night where that kickoff – that was terrible. So, I think we have to look at it from a coaching standpoint first. How are we coaching it? What are we doing? Do we have people in the right spot? Then I think the big thing for us next year is we have a lot of good core special teams players on our team. Hopefully most of those guys will be back next year. Hopefully. I don’t even know what their – I’m not into contracts. I don’t have anything to do with that. I just would like to see a lot of those core guys back. If we can, then we have to get those guys back, then we need to be more consistent. We just were too inconsistent on special teams and on offense. Obviously we were better consistent on defense. Consistency is the key. You can’t be up and down like that, and that’s where we have to improve.”
T Derek Newton had a gruesome injury this season. “It was a tough injury. He just was in our squad meeting. He’s a great guy. I don’t think anybody has any idea as far as his timetable, but I know this: we’ll do a good job of taking care of him. We care about Derek. I think all of us at some point in time have been in touch with him and I know he’s working hard to get back. I’m not sure where he is right now. You know more about the medical part of it than I do. I just know that it was a tough injury and I know he’s working hard to get back.”
What are your thoughts on P Shane Lechler who could become an unrestricted free agent?“He did a good job for us. I think everybody knows how I feel about Shane. He’s a great pro. He’s had a great career here. Again, he’s a guy that we would like to have back here. Hopefully we can work something out. He’s a leader in the locker room, he’s a captain. Means a lot to me personally. He had a heck of a year. Did the things that we asked him to do. It was good to see that.”
You spoke a little bit about NT Vince Wilfork after the game the other night but he said afterward that could very well have been his last game. What are your overall thoughts on him and what he’s meant to the team?“I haven’t really sat down with Vince to talk about the future with him. I did hear a couple of the quotes that he had. Those are personal decisions between he and his wife and their family. I mean, look, I’ve said it thousands and thousands of times. To play that position in this league for as many years as he did – and then thinking back to earlier in his career where he was used as a defensive end, he was used as a nose guard, he was used as a three-technique. I mean, he’s kind of done it all in his career. It’s a testament to him. And then what he’s done off the field is incredible. He was a good leader in our locker room. But again, I haven’t sat down and talked to him about what he’s doing. I think those are more family decisions for him and he’ll probably let us know at some point.”
Did you pull NT Vince WIlfork out of the game with a play left so he could get some appreciation from the New England fans?“Well I think that that’s something at that point in the game that was probably important to do and I know that the New England fans really appreciate him.”
Can you talk about how QB Tom Savage played this season and what you’re looking for him going towards next season?“I think with every player – this is exactly what I just said to the team. I think I have it here with me. I can read it to you. I said, ‘I would not take too much time off. The more time that you waste on the couch doing nothing, the more time someone else is getting ahead of you.’ So I think for every single player, they have to figure out, ‘OK I’m going to take a little time to reconnect with my family, get better, you know heal up, but then I’m going to get back to work and figure out what I need to do to be better. How can I improve my skill set, which then improves the team.’ So whether it’s a quarterback or a defensive lineman or a center or whoever, wide receiver. Every position on the team – a kicker – they’re all going to be working hard. We have a very hard working group of guys. They’re away from us. The offseason rules basically are that we won’t have these guys back here till I think, I think it’s April 17, April 18. Don’t quote me on that because I don’t know the exact date, but it’s around that time when the offseason program starts. So between whatever it is today – what is it January 16 to April 17, they don’t have to be here. So every guy has to have a plan for how they’re going to get better, what they need to get better, what did the coaches give them for advice as far as hey these are things you need to improve upon. It doesn’t matter what position it is. Every guy’s got to approach it that way.”
What do you make of DE Jadeveon Clowney and his role as a leader going into next season?“His personality came through with the success that he was having on the field, his health, you know he was banged up, but I mean overall pretty healthy. So he was out there and he was such an active player that that’s what happens. When you have success on the field, you’re able to instill more of your personality in the locker room. I think you guys got a chance to see that this year. The guy’s a great guy. Loves football, loves his teammates, loves playing, plays hard. I think Whitney Mercilus is the same way. Different personality obviously, but similar. Whitney had a hell of a game the other night too. So those guys in addition to the obvious leaders on our team, those guys definitely have some form of leadership in our locker room. No doubt about it.”
How do you feel about the development of NT D.J. Reader and if NT Vince Wilfork is gone do you feel comfortable with Reader stepping up between DE Jadeveon Clowney and DE J.J. Watt?“Absolutely. D.J. Reader is one of the better young defensive lineman I’ve been around in the NFL. He’s tough. He’s built low to the ground. He’s hard to move. He’s got good pass rush skills and there’s a lot to improve on. That’s what we all have spoken to him about over the last part of the season is ‘hey look this is good, but think about how much better it could be.’ So he’s a really good young player that has a really good future as long as he continues to understand this is what it’s going to take for me to get to the level I want to get to as a player and help us get to that level as a team.”