Updated February 17, 9:49 AM CT
HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
The Houston Texans had the week off after another ugly win, this time against the Detroit Lions. While the team has not passed the eye test, they still lead the AFC South.
I'm starting to believe in this team. They've taken some dumps on the national stage, so the league wide perception is that their quarterback is holding the team back, but that's right where we want to be! "Yeah, we're bad, nothing to see here, keep moving". An ugly win is still a win.
November 07, 2016
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Transcripts from the coach's press conference on Monday, after the bye-week.
What do you have to do better in the next five home games than you did in the first three?
“Road, home - I think there’s some common things that we have to do better. I think offensively we have to obviously improve overall in the passing game. We have to do better versus certain schemes coverage wise. We have to continue to run the football. I think we’ve run it pretty decently for the most part. I know it hasn’t always been great, but overall we’ve run the ball pretty well. Defensively, we have to stop the run the way we did against Detroit. We have to just be more consistent in stopping the run and I think on special teams we need to be more consistent in our return game, especially our punt return game where I think we can really change field position. I think in our coverage units we have to tackle better. Overall as a team, we have to make sure that we try to flip the turnover–takeaway ratio. Right now we’re, I think, 29th in the league. We’re minus seven and it’s not very good. In the past couple years that we’ve been here, we’ve been able to turn that around. We need to try to turn that around because that stat right there points right towards the won-loss record. Those are things that we need to get better at.”
Can you give us an update on WR Will Fuller V and NT Vince Wilfork coming off of the bye week?
“No question that they’re day-to-day. I’m not sure that they would be available for Jacksonville. It looks like they might. I wouldn’t know that until the end of the week.”
What has been the secret to your team winning 11 of 15 games after the bye week in the last two years and is that good for the team’s momentum and confidence?
“I think one thing that has been a common theme is basically when you go into the bye with a win, I think that helps. We beat a good Detroit team. I mean yesterday they went and they beat Minnesota. They’re a good football team, so I think our team feels good about that. They also know that there’s a lot of improvement that we can make and I think also when the bye comes right at the halfway point it’s really a good time from a health standpoint, from a recharge the battery standpoint. I think that’s been the theme over the last two years, but obviously that’s the last two years. We have to make sure that we do that again, that we play well coming out of our bye again. When you look at Jacksonville, they’ve had some very, very close games. They’ve lost some close games like yesterday. Very close. They’ve won a couple of close games. We know that this is going to be a very, very difficult challenge for us in Jacksonville. Got a lot of good athletes, fast team, and good players on both sides of the ball. We have to have a good week of practice and be well prepared for this game.”
You mentioned improving when it comes to takeaways. Is that as simple as having a better pass rush and trying more actively to force the quarterback to make mistakes or is it working to push the ball out?
“I think some of it is kind of the luck of the draw if that’s the right phrase to use. Sometimes turnovers come and takeaways come in bunches. You just get hot like we did two years ago. I think we were almost the best in the league. I think we were up in the top three. Last year we turned it around the second half of the season. I do think you can practice it. I think that you can talk about whether it’s, like you just said, strip sacks or fumbles or obviously interceptions, batted balls, things like that. At the end of the day, it’s got to happen on Sundays and sometimes there’s a little bit of luck involved.”
You made a lot of changes with your skill position players in the offseason and the offense has struggled. Do some of the issues that the offense has come from all of the changes or are you disappointed in their performance?
“None of us are happy with where the offense is at. None of us make excuses about it. I think it starts with coaching. We’ve got to do a better job of coaching. I do think there’s some key elements that are specific. When we looked at our offensive self-scout, one of the things that we need to improve upon is like in the red area. We were tied for first in the league (before the bye week) with 18 field goals. That’s a good stat for Nick (Novak), but that’s not a great stat for your offense. You got to score touchdowns down there and what’s happened to us, we’ve been in too many 3rd-and-longs. We’ve had tackles for loss, sacks, penalties. We’ve been in these 3rd-and-12 from the 12, 3rd-and-10 from the 10 and that’s not where you want to be in this league. That’s another area, in addition to a couple things we need to do better on third down against certain schemes, where we have to improve. I think if we can improve in these areas that are important, I think you’ll see a better offense. The thing that has been clear to me is this. When you put guys together that haven’t played together a whole lot in the past, that takes a while to gel and right now it’s taking a little bit too long. We need to make sure that that’s what this week is about. Today, we had a couple of 7-on-7s and worked on a bunch of things out there. As quickly as we can get these guys to continue to gel because when it’s looked good it’s been pretty good, but obviously that hasn’t been enough.”
Can you talk a little bit about TE C.J. Fiedorowicz in regards to how he has evolved and how he has been able to stretch the field down the middle?
“You have to give him a bunch of credit. I gave (Tight Ends Coach) John Perry a lot of credit the other day too. I think he’s done a good job with all those guys. C.J., when he came here, was drafted to be basically a wide tight end, which is his primary role was to be a blocker. He is one of the better blocking tight ends in our league. I think most coaches would tell you that. What he’s done is he’s done a really good job in the offseason and the OTAs and training camp of really working on route running, which is totally different than college. Sometimes it takes a while. The leverages, the skill sets of the players that you’re running routes against. It’s just a different deal. The coverage looks. He’s really improved and he’s doing a good job. He’s got really good hands. Big hands. Big physical guy. Instinctive player. That has to continue because that has helped us this year.”
The statistical evidence suggests that T Duane Brown is back to his old self. Can you reflect on that?
“Having Duane back has been very important. I think injuries, you deal with injuries. We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries. No doubt about it when you look at it. But he’s a guy that missed the first part of the season, but then when he came back you could see improvement in the running game and you could see improvement in the pass protection. Especially like if I narrow it down, the way he blocked the run against Detroit at the end of the game, like, that’s Duane Brown. That’s what makes him very valuable to us and it’s good to have him back. He’s helped us.”
T Duane Brown’s physical performance is one thing, but can you talk about what else makes him a valuable member of the team off-the-field?
“He’s always brought that. Even when he was injured, he’d be in there. He never missed a meeting unless he had a doctor’s appointment or something to get his leg checked out. He was in every meeting. I think (Offensive Line Coach Mike) Devlin is probably the best guy to ask about that because I’m the head coach, I’m not in all those position meetings. It’s funny when you stand up in front of the team and have a squad meeting every day, a lot of these guys are used to where they sit and things like that. Duane’s been locked in from day one. Even when he knew he wasn’t going to play. I think his leadership has been there the whole time. No doubt about it, he’s been one of our leaders since I got here.”
What do you feel best about over the second half of the season?
“I’ve said this all along and I’m trying to not give you a cliché or anything. I really like this team. I think they work very hard. They practice hard. I mean, we demand a lot of these guys. We’re here early in the morning. We practice. We meet. We meet again. We walk through. We try to get things right. All these guys are on board with that. I think that’s what I look forward to most is just the day-to-day operation of this team and watching this team get better. I told the team this morning, when you look at this league right now, I’d say there’s very few teams that are sitting in a bed of roses. I think every team has some type of, whether it’s injury or whatever it might be, there’s a bunch of teams that are within a game of each other. So it’s going to be the team that performs the best in the most critical situations. The most disciplined team. The team that can really gel the quickest over the second half of the season. Those are the teams that are going to be in the tournament at the end of the year."
Do you guys have a different mindset when you play on the road? “
You guys talk a lot about that, and the road hasn’t been good obviously. We’re 0-3 on the road, but if you look back at the Denver game, we were driving the ball there down 14-9. Hadn’t been a great night offensively, but still had a shot to take the lead, turn the ball over, things like that. It’s not like the road against Minnesota, New England. Those are bad games. We moved on from those, but I think it’s more about us regardless of road or home just doing the things that I was saying in the beginning. How we need to improve specifically in all three phases. If we do that, I think we’ll play better whether it’s out there at home or on the road.”
Exp: 5th season
2016 stats: 4.5 sacks, 30 tackles, 1 FF
2016 cap hit: $5,800,000
Despite the consuming shadow of J.J. Watt, Mercilus is beginning to be recognized as one of the league's best young pass-rushers. He posted his first double-digit sack season in 2015, and while his numbers have slightly declined this year, the Texans have him under contract for the next three seasons at far below market rate ($6.5M per year).
Head Coach Bill O'Brien
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel
Offensive Coordinator George Godsey
Special Teams Coordinator Larry Izzo
Secondary Coach John Butler
Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin
Running Backs Coach Charles London
Assistant Secondary Coach Anthony Midget
Tight Ends Coach John Perry
Wide Receivers Coach Sean Ryan
Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel
Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver
Check this out: DeAndre Hopkins, Bun B test their knowledge of football rap lyrics
5 best moments from Andre Johnson's NFL career
Andre Johnson announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday. While the 35-year-old's Hall of Fame credentials will be debated in the coming weeks and months (Johnson is ninth all-time in NFL career receptions, 10th all-time in receiving, and a seven-time Pro Bowler), what's undeniable is that he produced some truly memorable moments. Here are our picks as the top 5:
5. Two TDs in return to Houston
In his first game back in Houston after 12 seasons with the team, Johnson scored two touchdowns to lead the rival Indianapolis Colts to a 27-20 win.
4. Burning Peterson for a pair
Johnson put up 1,407 yards in 2013, his last season as a high-end receiver, but scored only five touchdowns. Two of them came in a Week 10 game in Arizona, where he scored two very pretty touchdowns on All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson.
3. No denying him
At his peak, Johnson was a tank with the ball in his hands. Like on this 2009 play, where three Arizona Cardinals defenders weren't enough to deny him of a touchdown:
2. 14 catches for 273 yards
Everything clicked for Johnson in a Week 12, 2012 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Houston. Johnson burned his opponent for 14 catches and 273 yards - 13th most in NFL single-game history - including a game-winning 48-yard touchdown in overtime.
1. Down goes Finnegan
Before Josh Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. battled on the field, Johnson showed the football world what it really means to take on a pesky cornerback and come out on top. Johnson and the Tennessee Titans' Cortland Finnegan were both ejected for the 2010 melee. Johnson's anger boiled over in a fist-of-fury brawl between the two in which Johnson clearly dominated.
Houston 20, Lions 13
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Head Official - Brad Allen
Attendance - 71882
Behind the fourth-quarter running of Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, the Houston Texans fended off another Detroit Lions comeback and recorded a 20-13 victory on Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Miller and Blue combined for 47 yards on a nine-play scoring drive that enabled the Texans (5-3) to build a 20-10 lead with 4:09 remaining in the game. After the Lions (4-4) matched that tally with a Matt Prater 34-yard field goal, Miller pounded his way to a pair of first downs to whittle away the clock following an unsuccessful onside kick attempt by Detroit.
Miller and Blue totaled 97 yards on 26 carries but that proved just enough to help Houston snap the Lions' three-game winning streak.
Brock Osweiler tossed his ninth interception but also threw for 186 yards and a touchdown. Matthew Stafford passed for 240 yards and a score.
Lions running back Theo Riddick totaled 133 yards on 19 touches with a 1-yard touchdown reception. But after falling behind by two scores in the second quarter, the Lions pulled no closer than one touchdown following halftime, stymied by the Texans' ground attack after rallying to victory in each of the previous three weeks.
The Lions had six penalties in the first half either negating big gains on special teams or stalling their progress offensively.
The Texans performed with efficiency, converting 5 of 9 third downs prior to the intermission, including four on their opening touchdown drive.
Osweiler completed third-down passes of 10, 23, 12 and 6 yards, the latter to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz for a touchdown with 12:56 left in the first half.
Houston followed that 12-play march with a 10-play scoring drive on its ensuing possession, with Miller bulling his way into the end zone for 1-yard run and a 14-0 lead.
NOTES: The Lions welcomed back RB Theo Riddick (ankle) and TE Eric Ebron (knee/ankle), who had been sidelined for three and two weeks respectively. However, DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder) missed a third consecutive game with CB Darius Slay (hamstring) also inactive following his injury last week against the Redskins.
Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz recorded his fifth career touchdown in the second quarter but was later evaluated for a concussion after taking a blow to the head from Lions SS Tavon Wilson. Fiedorowicz returned later in the half.
Lions LB Josh Bynes was in the starting lineup five days after signing with the team. He replaced the injured DeAndre Levy.
Texans lead AFC South
20-13 win over Lions make team 5-3
The Texans are 5-3 and poised to make a playoff run. Today’s game was yet another in Houston that wasn’t pretty, as both offenses were sloppy at times. But the Texans jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and held on to win 20-13.
Brock Osweiler wasn’t great, but he was better than he’s been for much of this season, completing 20 of 29 passes for 186 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Texans running backs Alfred Blue and Lamar Miller split carries with Blue gaining 41 yards on nine carries and Miller 56 yards on 17 carries.
Matthew Stafford wasn’t playing like the MVP candidate that many Lions fans think he should be for most of the game, finishing with 27 completions on 41 attempts for 240 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions.
The loss drops the Lions to 4-4, and in the competitive NFC playoff race, they look like they’re going to come up short.
But in the weak AFC South, the 5-3 Texans look like the favorites.
DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What are the keys to the defense doing a better job against the run?
“We just have to win one-on-one matchups. We have to do what we have been, just win our one-on-one’s and make plays.”
Can you explain the difference between home and the road?
“You feel better playing in front of your crowd. You have them with you. I guess we feed off it a lot more at home than we do on the road.”
You’re a little banged up. Are you going to be ready to go on Sunday?
“I’m good. I’ll be ready to go Sunday.”
What do you see from Lions QB Matthew Stafford in terms of having that quick release?
“Oh yeah, he’s a good quarterback. He makes all the throws across the field. We have to keep him in the pocket. He’s like the third-leading rusher on the team, so we have to contain him, keep him in the pocket and just try to get after him and help our DBs out in the secondary.”
The way a press conference with Bill O'Brien goes....
The story behind "The Jacket"
Ran DeBord - AASNSports
09/24/2016 8:00 AM CT *updated
In 2012, an 11-1 Texans team was crushed 42-14 by the Patriots on Sunday Night Football, but I'm burying the lead. The real story became the custom-made letterman jackets that Texans nose tackle Shaun Cody came up with to have made to wear to Foxbourough, Mass.
"The jackets turned out awesome," said Connor Barwin, then-Texans linebacker and Shaun Cody's best friend, said on the day the jackets arrived. "We've got a great group of guys. Anything that represents the camaraderie of this team, guys are excited about, and that's exactly what the jacket does."
At Tuesday's press conference Watt was asked by the Chronicle's John McClain "do you still have the letter jacket".
Watt, responded “I’ve got no idea,” “Those were some bad memories.
McClain then asked "Do you know where it is?"
Watt: I don’t think [I still have it]. I hope not. I don’t want to bring that back up at all. Those were some bad days.”
The Texans faced New England a couple of months later when the Patriots beat them 41-28 in the playoffs.
* The Texans didn't wear "The Jacket", which by most accounts, is a really nice Jacket, and they lost anyway, so I think we can throw the "Jacket of Damacles" myth away.
Texans base offensive set
"Helluva team win"
Snoop interviews Bill O'Brien
The Texans new surface is going to stun your eyes!
Tonya Boyd - AASNSports
The Texans proudly displayed the new turf at NRG Stadium on Tuesday, making them the 13th team to use the new UBU Sports Speed Series S5-M synthetic playing surface, and only the 3rd team to have it in their practice facility also.
The Ultimate Fan
Austin Stiles - AASNSports
There are SuperFans, then there is "The UltimateFan"...
Texan fans should embrace the insanity that comes with the unbridled dedication to a team the way the UltimateFan does. I met the "UltimateFan" (real name is Steve) at the recent "See what's new at NRG" media event. He was invited to the event by the Texans.
Steve has been a season ticket holder since 2008. He sits in a corner seat, lower level, while his wife sits across the stadium in the complete opposite corner.
Steve claims he stands the duration of the game and his wife was uncomfortable standing for that long, so when the perfect single seat became available, he jumped on it and now stands without interfering with the more docile fans that use to surround him.
He has a facebook page: "theultimatefan"
Look for "The UltimateFan" at the next Texans home game, he's one of a kind.
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