On Monday, Bill O’Brien sat by the fire and spilled the tea for the media. Topics ranging from Lonnie Johnson Jr.’s capability at safety, to the mysterious Ross Blacklock incident, to what on earth happened on the failed 4th and 1 from Houston’s 34 yard line in the first quarter. Let’s get into it.
Q: What can you do that you haven’t already done and how important is it to start forcing turnovers?
Yeah, it's important. We have to continue to work on it in practice. We have to be around the ball more consistently. Whether it’s tighter coverage when the ball is thrown or get more guys to the ball in the running game. You know, look both offenses that we played are very good, very unique offenses, and that's no excuse but that means that every week is going to be different. So we have to look at Pittsburgh now and we’ve got to figure out how to take the ball away and not miss those opportunities when they happen. We also have to take care of the ball on offense. We didn’t take care of the ball on offense yesterday and that led to points for them.
Keeping fumble recoveries for TDs to a minimum is a good place to start. Realistically, all the team can do it just try to hurry Big Ben and hope to force him into tough spots. Luckily, he’s probably the least mobile player in the league.
Q: How do you feel about the rate at which your team has produced explosive plays so far in these first two games?
We have to do a better job. That’s something we have to work on this week. We hit Brandin Cooks on the one yesterday that led to a touchdown, we missed David Johnson on a play that I think would have been a big play in the game. We have to keep working at it and trying to do a better job.
Long developing routes just haven’t worked out in the Texans’ favor so far. Opposing defenses are feasting on the offensive line right now, and it’s certainly affecting Deshaun Watson. The poor guy has to wait on these routes while the pocket is collapsing all around him. Sure, he can escape, but defenders have show the ability to anticipate him leaving the pocket.
Q: What did you see from the Ravens that allowed them to get that many quarterback hits on Deshaun (Ed. Note: 11 hits tied the most he’s been hit in a single game)?
I think some of that was when we were down and we had to throw the ball. I think that we have to work on different techniques upfront relative to what the defensive line is doing to us. Overall, we have to do a better job. It also involves everybody. Its the quarterback, running back, wide receivers, tight ends doing what they're supposed to do, its not just the offensive line. Like I said last night, we have to work really hard to get better quickly here.
Playing from behind won’t help anyone.
Q: After watching film did you see what Ross Blacklock did to get ejected? Have you talked to him about it?
I’ve spoken to him and I didn't see it on the tape. I know that it happened, so I’ve spoken to him.
Follow up: What happened?
I’ve spoken to him, Sarah. You guys can watch it too, right? You guys have the TV copy? To be honest with you, I didn’t see it either Sarah, but that's what the official told me. I’m not trying to...the official told me that he threw a punch, which I think you probably already know that. We’ve addressed it and we’ll continue to address it today.
A little bit of context here. Sarah Barshop asked this question, as pretty much everyone missed what happened during the live broadcast. Rivers McCown had the closest angle.
All-22 doesn't quite have the Blacklock punch that gets him ejected but the closest thing we have yet! pic.twitter.com/QeoqvJ1lWb— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 22, 2020
I don’t think there was a reason for O’Brien to get so testy, but you just never know with BOB.
Q:What are some things that you need to do to do a better job against the run?
Mark, we fit the run really well. Sometimes we fit the run really well. Sometimes we get out of our gaps and give the offense credit, they execute better than we do. Is it scheme, players...it’s all on me. We’ve got to stop the run better. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got the get the players to play better. We’ve got to look at our scheme and look at what we’re doing. This offense that we’re playing this week is completely different than that offense or the offense before that. So, it’s going to be a matter of what’s the best thing to do against Pittsburgh. We just have to do a better job. When you’re 0-2, you have to improve in every area.
Oh, yeah? You fit the run really well? Do you? Do you REALLY fit it well?
I know we can only get so much each press conference, but I really need to know some rationales for this because it's hurting my head. pic.twitter.com/Kk0fMpC1CW— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 21, 2020
Q: Can you share with us what’s going on with Will Fuller and why he was limited yesterday?
I really don’t know. Look, he was in the passing game and relative to health, I’ll see what happens today when he comes in for treatment. We have to do a better job of getting him the ball, and it just didn’t happen yesterday.
Even if Will Fuller was 100 percent, I don’t think it would have made too much of a difference. The offense just isn’t gelling right now.
Q: Do you guys feel like you're creating the mismatches that you want and are executing those?
When you talk about mismatches, that has a lot to do with man versus zone and things like that. This team that we played yesterday, they did play some man and we felt like we had some guys in the right positions. They also played a lot of zone, blitz zone, so each week is different relative to the match-ups. Some teams pressure you with a lot of blitz zone. This team pressured us with blitz zone and then they played zero, which we handled well a couple of times but didn't handle well other times. So, we just have to do it all better. Everything has to be better. Everything. Starting with coaching, playing, everything.
The thing here is that assignments were being blown left and right on Sunday. With the Ravens pass rush, I can kind of understand how the Texans’ offensive line was overwhelmed. However, for one of the “better” units, they got punked.
Q: J.J. had another big game for you guys yesterday. What do you think about the level at which he is playing at this season?
Yeah, he had a big game. He had two sacks and just missed another one where the ball just got out before he got there. He disrupted the running game and is playing at a really good level. He’ll continue to play that way as he continues to get into better playing shape, so he’ll continue to play well.
I’m crossing every finger and toe that J.J. Watt stays healthy. He’s making an impact, but it can’t be all him.
Q: They told us during the game that Cullen (Gillaspia) was being evaluated for a concussion. Do you know if he had one or what his status is?
Yeah, he was evaluated for it. I’ll probably know more about that later today so I’ll be able to tell you the next time that we talk.
Q: J.J. said he was really frustrated in general and is tired of losing the big games. You guys have also played the Chiefs and the Ravens, with them being two of the NFL’s best teams. How do you balance that with knowing that it’s just two games but knowing that at some point to be the best, you have to beat the best teams.
It’s the question that we have to answer. We have to realize that its a long season, but we also have to realize we have to play a lot better to be in that category. We have to take it one day at a time, one week at a time. We’ve been in this position before unfortunately, and we’ve gotten out of this position, but it's a different year.
So, we just have to improve in every area, Brian. That’s pretty much all I can tell you. Everybody's got to do better. We realize it’s a long season so the balance of who we’ve played and where we’re at. You know, we’ve got a lot of games left and a lot of work to be done. We’re all frustrated. J.J.’s frustrated, everybody’s frustrated. No one wants to lose. No one goes into the game looking to lose. Everybody goes in there trying doing their best to win the game. We’ve got a lot of good guys. Got guys playing hard all the way through. We have to eliminate mistakes, especially early on. We’ve got to play more consistent.
Can you really blame J.J.? These are the teams that have set the standard in the conference. This is what the Texans will be staring at for the next six or seven years if they’re trying to make it to the big game. At some point, they’ve got to beat teams like the Chiefs and Ravens.
Q: Bill, the opening drives for you have been a struggle for you in the first couple games this year, and I know that’s been struggle going back to last season. Is that an issue of preparation or execution? How do you go about fixing that?
I don't know. We put a lot of time into the opening drive, we practice it, we go over it. We do it really Friday and Saturday. You’re right. Two weeks ago against Kansas City, we gain yards then we jump offsides and we get into a 3rd and 10. Yesterday, we get it to 4th and 1, we’re on our own 34, then I decided to punt. Look, I just think that we have to keep working at it. I just think that it’s something that we know we have to do better. We have to start faster. I don’t really have a great answer for you Sean, just other than that we have to do a better job.
Clock’s ticking, Bill. At some point it really does have to change.
Q: Do you feel like you had a lot of mental mistakes against the Ravens, and how do you fix that?
When I watch the tape, I'm not sure if it’s as much mental as turnovers. There were definitely some mental mistakes. There were neutral zone infractions, false starts. There were some mental mistakes, but I think give the Ravens credit. They did a better job than we did, but there’s definitely a lot to clean up, including mental mistakes. I thought it was more turnovers and not taking advantage of situations that we had. We played some situations really well, like at the end of the half. Other situations we didn’t play well and we have to improve in every area.
There were mistakes of all varieties. Why not have all the flavors?
Q: On 4th and 1, was it supposed to be a pass to Fells or did Deshaun have options on that play?
Yeah, the play was basically a bootleg. They zero blitzed us and we didn’t have a lot of options there. We have to do it better. We have to come up with a better play. We just have to do a better job in every area.
I liked that it was a pass, but man, it got blown up so quickly. There has to be an issue pre-snap with picking up blitzes. It has to get figured out.
Q:What do you like about Lonnie Johnson’s potential at safety?
I like Lonnie at safety. I think that Lonnie has the size and ability to play safety. He’s a good tackler and instinctive player. I think he did some good things at safety. I think he’ll get better and better doing that. He can also obliviously still play corner and help us in that area too. He has versatility, and I think he did some good things at safety.
I don’t think Lonnie at safety is the worst idea, but we already paid Eric Murray a lot of money to be our guy. O’Brien might as well keep Lonnie at corner for the time being.
Q: How difficult is it to continue to have to play from behind against quality teams, like you have been? How critical is it to try to avoid that?
It’s definitely critical. You get down 10-0, we cut it down to 10-7, and you feel like you're back in the game. Then it’s 13-7 and we fumble and they score a touchdown, then it’s 30-7. Those are hard deficits to come back from and we’ve got to... you’re exactly right. We have to improve in every area and we’ve got to try hard to get off to a better start to not fall behind.
O’Brien was exhausted at this point of the conference. He kind of gave up mid-answer.
Q: How did you think of Phillip Gaines’ performance, and what are your thoughts on Coutee’s ball security and getting him to be more consistent?
Phillip made some decent plays. Phillip is a solid player, he's smart, he knows his job, and he tries to perform it at a good level every week at practice. No one feels as bad about the fumble as Keke does. We’ve got to take care of the ball better. Keke has been working hard at practice and he’ll work hard to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I’m sure he feels terrible about it.
BOB’s doghouse is from today forward known as the “Keke Coutee Memorial Doghouse”. The link to the full press conference is here. Were you satisfied with BOB’s answers?