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J.J. Watt Addresses Report That He Got Into “Heated Exchange” With Bill O’Brien

The franchise legend opens up on BOB’s recent firing.

NFL: Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Watt has probably felt like he’s been in the middle of a whirlwind the last few days. Rumor has it that he might be a little bit responsible for the Texans deciding it was time to part ways with Bill O’Brien.

J.J. took some time with the media to address the rumors, playing for Romeo Crennel, the state of the organization, among other things. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Do you think your quotes after the game and rumored verbal interaction with Bill O’Brien contributed to him being fired?

“I don’t know. I’m not going to talk about what happened at practice or what conversations were had or whatever it may be. The situation is what the situation is. We right now have a fresh start and we had a good practice today. We’re looking forward to Jacksonville.”

Considering how heated it may have gotten and the possible involvement of Anthony Weaver, this thing could have really been ugly for BOB. Considering how much power O’Brien had this season, maybe his hubris finally caught up to him and he tried pulling a power move on THE franchise guy. Star players will always be worth more to the organization than the coach will, but BOB wasn’t even a good enough coach to pull weight to make an argument.

What do you think it will be like to play for Interim Head Coach Romeo Crennel?

“RAC’s a great man. I’ve been around RAC. I’ve said before many times, I was fortunate for early in my career to have Wade Phillips as a d-coordinator, and then I got Romeo Crennel as a defensive coordinator. Two absolute legends of the game. Guys with unbelievable experience and knowledge and insight. So, RAC has a ton of that. He’s seen a lot. He’s been round a lot. He’s been around great players, great teams. He has rings and he has a positive air about him. He has just kind of a jolly nature to him. So, you can’t really help but smile when you’re having a conversation with RAC. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do and what he brings to our team. It should be fun.”

Watching RAC coach out the rest of this season can’t be any worse than what we endured the last seven years. Even if it is, it has a known shelf life. With the impending coaching/GM search looming at season’s end, let’s just enjoy RAC’s ride into the Houston sunset.

Did you have an idea of what you thought needed to change after the Vikings game?

“I mean, when you’re 0-4, obviously things need to change. It wasn’t working. I appreciate and respect what we had. We won four division titles in six years with Bill (O’Brien) and I appreciate that and that time. But obviously this year we’re 0-4 and stuff wasn’t working. When you have the talent that we have, specifically at the quarterback position in this league, you can’t be 0-4. We’re looking forward to doing what we can to get on the right track and looking to get our first win this weekend.”

This wasn’t directed at all towards the defense. This was a straight shot at Bill O’Brien, and I’m here for it. J.J. is just saying what we’ve all been preaching at BRB for the last few years. Some longer than others.

How do you feel about where the organization is at right now?

“One of the things I’m excited about right now is hopefully getting on the same page with our fan base again. I feel like that’s something where there’s certainly been a bit of a tension there in the last months and years. I can’t wait to have us all pulling in the same direction again. I feel like there’s been a bit of a disconnect there. It’s not fun as a player to be a part of that when you feel like your fans can’t fully back you the way that they want to. I really am so excited because I’ve been here in some of the best times we’ve ever had. There’s nothing better than when this city is all on the same page and pulling for the Houston Texans, and I can’t wait to have that feeling again because it truly is a blast. I’m really looking forward to that.”

You and us both, J.J. If the reaction to Schefter’s tweet reporting O’Brien’s firing is any example, it seems that EVERYONE loved the decision.

What was it that you felt like wasn’t working in the first four weeks of the season?

“I mean, there’s a lot of things that have to change. We have to stop the run. We have to get takeaways. We haven’t got any takeaways. We obviously would like to score more points. We’d like to get that momentum going where we can get a takeaway on defense, give it back to our offense, then go down and score. There’s a lot of things that have to change. I have to play better. There’s plenty of stuff that has to change. We’re looking forward to getting that corrected and moving forward.”

The Texans currently have the worst run defense in the NFL. Tackling has been an issue, as has generating any pressure on passing downs. The Texans have also yet to force a turnover. The offense is putrid and broken. With regard to that side of the ball, hopefully Tim Kelly can find some creativity now that his puppet master has been removed from the equation.

How will Interim Head Coach Romeo Crennel get you guys to play better on defense, especially against the run?

“One of the things that Romeo, obviously being who he is and being the coach that he is, he’s extremely high on fundamentals and everybody doing their job and everybody focusing on building a strong foundation from the ground up. That starts with little things like footwork, hand placement, hat placement, where are your eyes, all that type of stuff. It’s just little things. It doesn’t need to be crazy complex. It doesn’t need to be, I don’t think that he has – he just wants you to do the little things right. It doesn’t have to be elaborate and beautiful. He just wants it to be done right. That’s what we’re doing. It’s a bit of simplification just to do your job and do it right and do it well.”

Going back to basics might be what's best for this team. There is still some talent in that front seven. Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham are a solid duo, while J.J. Watt is still a disruptor and P.J. Hall has flashed at times. I’d feel better about getting Jacob Martin and Jonathan Greenard more time as opposed to Whitney Mercilus.

Interim Head Coach Romeo Crennel said he hopes the team’s attitude and energy will be different on Sunday. Is that an easy fix and how do you change that in a short time?

“I agree with him. I think that we want our guys to play loose and free and have fun and enjoy it and trust in each other, and feel like they can go out there and be who they are and play the game the way they know how to play it. I’m looking forward to seeing that. I thought we had a great practice today. I thought guys had good energy. I thought guys were doing their job, communicating really well. That’s what we’re looking for. Personally, for me on defense, we have to do our job very well, but we also have to fly around and make plays. At the end of the day, this league comes down to making plays. We’ve got to go out there and make those plays.”

This has to be a huge weight off of the shoulders of every player and coach in the organization. In the days following BOB’s firing, things have come out.

Good ol’ McClain. Even when O’Brien is gone, he’ll still keep barking for him. So, without a tyrant around, hopefully things feel a bit looser and the guys can start having fun again. I don’t know about you, but the energy just hasn’t quite been there during the games.

How important is it as a team to buy in to what the coaching staff is teaching you all?

“That’s extremely important. You’re never going to win any games if you don’t buy in. Where we sit right now, we need to do it very fast. So, it’s extremely important that everybody buys in and that we all band together and we do this together. Because right now it comes down to winning one game. It comes down to figuring out having great practices, having a great week and going out there and winning one game.”

I’d have a hard time buying what BOB was selling too (even though I picked the Texans to go 11-5 in the preseason predictions).

What are your hopes for the organization as it goes through a transition?

“Like you just said, it’s one win. You can’t really look past one week. You’ve got to take it one game at a time, one day at a time. The biggest thing I can say about big picture is what I already spoke to about the fans. I’m really looking forward to having all of us pushing in the same direction again. I’m looking forward to going out there and working on this one win.”

*First win, J.J. One win still leaves us at 1-15.

Did you feel like players lost that ‘buy in’ at a point during the season?

“I don’t think our players ever give anything less than their best, no. I think our guys come to work every day. I think they’re professionals. I think they do their job. I think that our guys give what they have every day.”

What a nice guy. J.J. was never going to twist the knife too hard. Plus, I fully believe that the players really tried to make this work. The team is just depleted and the offensive design is broken. Nothing they can do about that.

How important is it that future decisions made by the organization align with QB Deshaun Watson’s skill set?

Deshaun Watson’s an incredible quarterback. He’s the face of this franchise. He’s the future of this team and this city. We have to do whatever we possibly can to make sure that he’s in the best position to have success and to lead this place to success, not only this year, not only next year, but for the next 10 years. Whatever it takes to give him all the tools he needs to be successful in order to be and flourish and build into the best possible version of himself he can be, that’s what we need to do.”

Kings building up kings. You love to see it. Let’s just consider this the passing of the torch between two franchise cornerstones.

Have you felt that when things are going poorly, you start to do other players’ jobs at the same time as yours?

“I wouldn’t say that. Not the lack of trust next to you. Sometimes it’s a matter of trusting yourself too much. Thinking that you can do everything at all times as opposed to not trusting the person next to you. You just think that you can do everything possible. Sometimes you have to remember that there are 10 other guys on your team that are extremely capable, that you don’t have to do it all by yourself.”

J.J. is no longer Superman. He has to learn that he can’t do it by himself and learn to stick to his assignments. It’s definitely not because he doesn’t believe in his teammates. He just has to learn that he’s not quite the player that he once was, unfortunately.

How much do the leaders in the locker room need to step up with 12 games remaining?

“It’s huge. Don’t get me wrong here, we have absolutely a lot of blame to take for being 0-4. I don’t think that there’s anyone here saying that there’s not things that we can do massively better. But no, we have to lead this team. Obviously, through a transition like this, the leaders of the team are extremely important in ensuring that the guys buy in and ensuring that we come to work every single day and try to improve and get better and that we focus on that one win at a time. Because when you go through a transition like this, things can go obviously one of two ways. I think that we all want it to go the way where everybody buys in, everybody gives everything they possibly have, and we go out here and we get this win.”

I think this experiment might just surprise most of us in how well the team does. I’m not saying the Texans are going to run the table or anything, but maybe with the lack of extreme direction, Deshaun will be allowed to cook and some liberties will be taken on the defensive side of the ball.

Do you believe sunshine has returned to NRG Stadium after that tweet you put out yesterday?

“I think that’s – I appreciate what Bill (O’Brien) did here. I’m very thankful for what Bill did. You’re trying to get me to go down a road here – we won four division titles in six years. The one thing I’ll say about Bill O’Brien is he always stood up for his players. I’ve been in meetings with him and things like that. Off the field, certainly he tried to do whatever possible to support his players and give his players the absolute best support. I truly believe that he always did what he believed was best for this football team. So, I don’t have ill will at all. So, no. I do look forward to a fresh start. I do think there’s an energy and excitement, and we’re looking forward to going out and getting a win and going 1-0. That’s our goal.”

The roof at NRG Stadium is rarely ever opened. It’s a beautiful sight when it is. Is this a possible subtweet about Bill O’Brien’s firing? Is it just a massive coincidence? I don’t know. What do you think?