PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK PRESS CONFERENCE
BB: I'd say the first thing that really jumps out after watching Houston is just really how well they're playing now. I think Coach [Bill] O'Brien has done obviously an outstanding job with the team given where they were, 2-5 after the Miami game, won four of their last five games, at the top of the league in almost every defensive category in that time, holding a couple teams to no touchdowns, good teams, too, so their overall production defensively. Offensively not turning the ball over, getting their big plays, balancing their offense off with the running game, getting big plays out of [DeAndre] Hopkins. [Ryan] Griffin has come back which has helped them. Brian [Hoyer] has played well at quarterback and they're solid in the kicking game. This is a big unit. They have a lot of size, a lot of big, strong players that we have to match up against as well as a group of speed guys. [Shane] Lechler is obviously one of the great punters of all time, so they're very good in that area. Playing well, dong the things they need to do to win. Really close to beating Buffalo last week. That game was tied with two minutes to go in the game, they dropped an interception that could have run back in for a touchdown that would have won the game for them, ended up having it go the other way but I'm sure that's one they feel like got away from them. We're going to have to do a good job in all three areas. Obviously the great players that they have – [J.J.] Watt, [Duane] Brown, Hopkins, Lechler – we're going to have to deal with all those guys, but then they have a lot of good depth, a lot of young players that have played very productively for them as well. We're going to be challenged all the way across the board. Corners do a good job – they have good depth at that position. They're good on defense period. So, a lot of challenges this week. I'm sure it will be a great environment Sunday night, a lot of energy in that place, and hopefully we'll be able to play our best game.
Q: Is it going to be weird seeing Vince Wilfork on the opposite sideline?
BB: Sure, yeah, but we deal with that pretty much every week. There is always somebody on our team that was on their team or somebody on their team that was on our team or a coach or something like that. It's the National Football league. We've been through quite a few of those.
Q: Is there any comparison to J.J. Watt in terms of the way he can affect a game on defense?
BB: He's pretty special. He does a lot of things really well, and everybody game plans for him every game. He gets a lot of double teams, the line sliding to his side, teams trying to run away from him, teams trying to handle him, but he does a good job with all of it. In spite of all the attention he gets and the schemes that are put in week to week to try to handle him, he still has a tremendous amount of production. They move him around a little bit, so he's not always in the same place, although he plays a lot on the offensive right, the defensive left, but he shows up in other spots as well. Romeo [Crennel] and Coach [Paul] Pasqualoni have done a good job of moving things around enough to keep the offense off balanced. He's done a really good job of dealing with a lot of extra attention, whatever it happens to be – line slide, double team, tight end staying in – similar to some of the things that we saw from teams dealing with [Lawrence] Taylor at New York. He's got that kind of disruptiveness.
Q: That class of players, you mentioned Taylor. To me, that is probably as high as you go, right?
BB: I wouldn't go above Taylor because of the versatility that Taylor had in terms of pass coverage. He was a pass rusher and a run player and a pass defender. He was really an elite player at everything, including the kicking game. And of course watt has blocked a lot of kicks, too, but I think for the position he plays he's as disruptive of a defensive linemen as I've seen in the league in the same general category as L.T.
Q: In the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, would you go back and watch any of Hard Knocks?
BB: Again, in terms of preparing for a team, we have a lot of people in our organization that kind of do different forms of preparation work, so that would be covered in that general category. Not me specifically, no.
Q: When Brian Hoyer was here, did you think he would have success as a starter one day?
BB: Yeah, absolutely, he just never got a chance. Had he had the opportunity that Matt Cassel got in 2008, who knows? But he didn't, so that's the way it worked out. Brian does a lot of things well. He did a lot of things well here. The fact that he came in as an undrafted player and made the roster his rookie year at that position, that in itself was pretty impressive. He's smart. He's tough. He's accurate. He throws a very good deep ball. He's got great awareness on the field. They put a lot of responsibility on him as we know Billy does with the quarterback and Coach [George] Godsey put a lot of responsibility on the quarterback so he has a lot of things at the line of scrimmage he can audible or adjust or check out of and so forth, and he did a good job of that when he was here in the opportunities he had. He's got a lot of mental toughness and he's got good quickness and throws a good deep ball. He's a quality player that does a lot of things well, helps the team win in a lot of different ways.
Q: What is it about DeAndre Hopkins that makes him so dangerous?
BB: He does a lot of things well, too. I'd say it starts with his hands. He has great catching skills and a great catching radius. He's averaging over 15 yards a catch or right at 15 yards a catch, whatever it is for his career. He's had a ton of production, but it's not on two-yard slant routes and stuff like that. He's making plays down the field. He's always open because he's got the ability to catch the ball. Wherever the defender is, if the ball is thrown opposite the defender, he's long enough and good enough to come down with a lot of tough catches. He's long, he's got good playing strength, quickness, can get open, but he goes up and competes for the ball and comes down with it in tight coverage a lot, so like I said, really he's always open because he can come down with the ball. His ball skills and length are exceptional.
Q: Does that force your cornerbacks to be more aggressive to the ball?
BB: Well again I think you've got to force players to make those plays. He makes a lot of them. [Odell] Beckham makes them. Those guys make them, but you can't give them the easy ones. If he makes a great play, good throw and a good catch, you've got to live with it. As soon as you try to stop those, you're going to give up plays that are just easy plays. I think you've got to make them execute those great plays. Are they going to hit a couple? Yeah. They're not going to hit every one. They'll hit one, it'll be on the highlights on Sunday night, but you've got to force them to do that. I don't think you can give them easy access, easy yardage, easy throws. That's just suicide. You've got to force them to make those great plays and compete the best you can on them.
Q: How does Vince Wilfork look to you?
BB: About the same. The guy has played a long career. He's played the same position. I thought he probably had his best game against Buffalo last week.
Q: You've brought in a couple offensive players last week. At this stage in the year, what is the process like of getting new players up to speed on the playbook and game plan for the coming week?
BB: That's challenging. We do it on a number of different levels. There is just the component of just getting the guy into our organization – here's how we do things. Forget about the X's and O's, there's that aspect to it. Then there is kind of learning what some of the basics are in terms of terminology and formations or alignments or whatever it happens to be, and then it's pretty much game plan-specific. What do you have to learn to play this week and then whatever you can get beyond that in terms of general fundamental foundation building, you do the best you can, but you're usually pretty consumed with trying to get in what we're doing this week. Here's how we adjusted against the different things our opponents do and then next week is next week. In some of those windows where you have possibly extra opportunities, you try to build a better foundation, a better base, so even though this doesn't apply this week here's what this means because at some point you're going to want to build on that. It's a tough catch-up process, it really is. For a player like Keshawn Martin, who at least from an X's and O's standpoint and probably a program standpoint, too, had some familiarity with protections and adjustments and basic concepts, probably the learning curve for him would have been easier than say a player that comes in with very little in common. Maybe their routes are numbered and ours are named or vice versa. Or the protections were names and ours are numbers – that kind of thing where you're trying to put together a whole different language, trying to learn a different language as well as what to do but also trying to learn what different words or concepts mean, I think that's probably the hardest part of a new player. As you go through that process with a player, there are some things you'll talk to him about where he'll say, 'Oh I got that. That's what we did here. That's this, this is that; OK good.' Then there are other things that are going to be different that are foreign that are new and those are going to take more time, and you don't really know what those are until you actually go through the process with the player, start talking to the player, get questions, get feedback, quiz him on the information you've given him to try to understand what he's getting, what he isn't. Some guys learn better by walking through it, some guys learn better by seeing it on film, some guys can look at it on a piece of paper and understand, some guys need to see it on the field. There's that whole process of getting to know the player and his best learning techniques. A lot of different components to it, but obviously you're fighting a losing battle in terms of a race against time that you're just already too far behind in to get all the way caught up. You just have to catch up enough so he can be functional for that particular game and then worry about next week next week.
Q: What impact did you see Vince Wilfork have inside the locker room?
BB: Good, he was great. He was team captain for multiple years, great leadership on and off the field, really smart player, understood concepts, understood what it took to win, how to prepare to win, how to compete, how to make adjustments. Vince always had a real good poise. He had an emotional side to him – I'm not saying that, I don't think you can play the game without it – but he also had a very calm and poised side, of what do we need to do, how do we need to do it, what adjustments do we need to make and then go out there and do it without it being a big frenzy. He was I would say a very settling influence on his teammates as far as that type of thing went, too. Look he did a lot for us. He had a great career here and was a great player – great size, very talented. Like the interceptions that he had and things like you just don't see a lot of guys make those kinds of plays at the position he played. I think that speaks to his athleticism.
Q: Did you learn anything from Bill O'Brien when he was on your staff?
BB: Yeah, sure, I think I learned a lot from Bill. Bill and I spent a lot of time together and it was good. Bill has got great leadership skills, without a doubt, great leadership skills. Watching him, observing him handle in-game situations or practice situations or meetings or that kind of thing, I think he did a great job of that. I'd say I definitely took some things from that. Overall just preparation of the team offensively, things that we talked about in terms of what to do, when to do it, how much of risk to take, when to take it and so forth, managing in-game situations that we had, like any offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator over a multi-year period you have a lot of those end-of-the-game or critical situations that you talk back and forth on of what's the best thing to do, how do we best manage the situation. He had a lot of input in that as Josh [McDaniels] does now or Matt [Patricia] does, Joe [Judge], for those situations. But I think Billy has really got a good mix of all those things – leadership, toughness, command, intelligence, decision making, poise – and again, nobody could have gone into a tougher situation than Penn State and do what he did in two years. I mean whatever he had to deal with here I think was a fraction of that in a total picture of it. You talk to the players that played for him there, people that were there with him, the job that he did there was just spectacular. And he did a good job for us, too – I'm not saying that – but he's had multiple opportunities here along the way from here to Penn State to now Houston and same thing when talking to players that come from down there, the amount of respect they have for him, just watching the way his team plays, going through four quarterbacks last year being 9-7 dealing with some of the things he's had to deal with. I think he's done a great job. He's a great coach.
Q: Do you see Bill O'Brien's personality come through when you watch them on film?
BB: Yeah, absolutely, and Romeo and Mike Vrabel and Pasqualoni and George Godsey – all those guys. They certainly have a vision of the way they want the team to play. I'm not saying they have every resource at their disposal now – one of us do – but in terms of playing the game the way that they need to play it to give their team the best chance to win, absolutely. I think that's really what it's about – doing what you have to do to make the most out of what you have versus what you're competing against. I think they do a great job of that.
Q: When he was here as a player, did Mike Vrabel strike you as the kind of guy that would go into coaching?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. Mike and I talked about that a lot. He'd give me advice and I would tell him, 'Mike when you're a coach and you're calling the defenses, you should go ahead and do that. Here's why we're not going to do that. Or that's a great idea. We can do that, that's good, I'm glad you brought that up.' Mike is not afraid to make a suggestion, and we've had a lot of good discussions even when he was at Ohio State or when he was in Kansas City for that matter, we would bump into each other from time to time, but when he was Ohio State particularly when he got into coaching, we discussed a lot of … My daughter was out there at that time – Amanda was at Ohio State – we saw Mike and we would talk about different things, whether it would be X's and O's or managing players or practice tempo or whatever it was. It could be general coaching things. I think Mike has a great mind for it, great passion for it. He's got great playing experience, so he can draw on things that honestly I can't. I've never played in this league. I can't draw on those, so I think there is definitely some advantage to that. I don't think that's a ticket. There are a lot of other things that go into it, too, but if it's used properly I think it's valuable. Mike was a great player. He's played different systems, he's played different positions. He's played offense, defense, special teams. He's played end, he's played linebacker. He would play free safety in practice for us probably once or twice a year, especially when we were up against a guy like Ed Reed or somebody who you really didn't know what he would do. You would just say go back there and go with what you see and if you want to gamble, gamble. Mike, he would love that. He would drive [Tom] Brady crazy doing that, like, 'He'll never be there on that pattern,' but it's Ed Reed – you didn't know where Ed Reed would be. He was usually wherever the ball was. He somehow got there. So Mike did that. Again you could just see his overall passion for the game, whether it be playing multiple positions, playing offense, defense, he had a great awareness of the total game and loved to play it, loved to play tight end. If we'd be up against a big receiver, he would go in there and take a couple plays at receiver.
Q: Have there been many guys like that where you can tell right away that they would make a good coach?
BB: I think there are a lot of guys that probably fall in that category, but I would say Mike probably as much as anybody. Even when he first got here, that was only his fifth year in the league or whatever it was, you could even kind of see it then and his career wasn't even half over and he was already thinking about coaching. You could kind of tell when he got done playing that's what he was going to do. That came up pretty early. But he had a real passion for not just knowing his position but understanding the total game. He was always very good on things like being able to anticipate what the offense was going to do, hearing a call and then that call coming up later – maybe not even that game, maybe it was like the next year we played them – a guy like [Peyton] Manning who is making checks at the line of scrimmage or things like that. He had a lot of those little things that you never see on film but somehow he knew them or he figured them out or anticipated them and made a lot of instinctive plays or plays based on experience and just knowledge. Mike was really tough. He was a tough football player. I'm sure that comes across in his coaching as well. I don't think he babies them. I don't think there's a lot of sitting around eating marshmallows. That's not really his style. Mike played hard, he coaches hard, and I think the players respect him because he puts in as much work as he demands. I don't think he would ask anybody to do anything he hasn't probably done more of.
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY PRESS CONFERENCE
Q: What is the art and the science of the quarterback sneak?
TB: I think it's just having obviously a lot of confidence in my blockers. I think it's just knowing that those guys can protect where we are trying to go. I think Josh [McDaniels] does a great job calling it so it's just about having kind of everyone on the same page. As a quarterback you always have to have confidence in the guys up front. We've always just done a great job of blocking for it.
Q: It seems to be a pretty automatic one or two yards but can you recall a critical moment where you didn't come up with it?
TB: Not always, not always. Indianapolis this year we tried it. I got hit pretty hard. You take a few shots in there.
Q: Is protecting yourself on those plays an important aspect?
TB: Sure, well I mean you're a quarterback so you don't have those big running back shoulders and all the air in my helmet that's pumped up to the max. Hopefully you don't take a big shot but I've definitely taken a few shots in my day.
Q: Is your reception last week an indication of how bad the receiving situation is right now?
TB: Again, it was a great call by Josh and I thought Danny [Amendola] made a great throw. Hopefully I'll be throwing to all the receivers this week and there won't be many more passes to me.
Q: Did it feel kind of odd being on the other end?
TB: Yeah, it's always a little bit different when you're out of your normal environment so when I get out there things happen very fast. Those guys close on you pretty quick. It was a good play in the game. I wish it would've resulted in points but we've got a good plan this week. Hopefully we can execute it no matter what Coach [Belichick] calls. I think we as players need to go out there and do a great job of execution because it's a good defense, they've played really well the last five games, so there's not going to be much margin for error for us this week.
Q: How are you holding up physically after absorbing so many hits the past few weeks?
TB: I feel good, fresh as lettuce.
Q: Is there one thing you can point to offensively that's led to you holding onto the ball longer as of late?
TB: Ideally you'd always like to get the ball out on time in the pass game. I think whether it's some things we've done schematically or the opposing team has done schematically against us has forced us to hold the ball a little bit longer. I wish we would just be able to stay in rhythm. Every offense I'm sure would love that. Judging by the results I need to get the ball out quicker. I've just got to find an open guy and try to get it to the guys that can actually do something with it because usually when it's in my hands there's nothing good happening – aside from the catch last week. I think we've just got to get it to the guys who can do something with it – the skill guys – that can ultimately get the ball in the end zone.
Q: How difficult will it be trying to correct your issues on third down against a defense that excels on third down?
TB: I think it's a lot of – its third down – but I think they've also, if you look at statistically, yeah, absolutely the first and second downs lead to long third downs and long third downs, nobody's good in third-and-eight-plus in the NFL. It's a passing down, the coverage is too tight, the rush is too good. If you make one or two of those per game it's usually pretty good for an offense. I think they've forced more teams into those situations than any other team in the league. They've just done a great job of negative plays on first and second down, whether that's negative plays in the run game, sacks, lowest completion percentage. They have all the stats and we're going to have to do a good job. It's obviously a big challenge for us and we've got to figure out a way to move the ball enough, take care of it, score points when we get opportunities, but they certainly make it hard.
Q: How hard is it for you guys to stay focused and ignore the outside noise?
TB: I think it's just believing in each other when you face the adversity that we faced the last couple weeks and nobody likes to lose games. I think all of our quality of life sucks when you lose games but that's just the way it is. It should be important. It should hurt when you lose because we put a lot into it. I think not obviously abandoning what the process is because I think we've done a good job preparing. We've just got to execute better. I think we've got to do a better job playing and then hopefully that results in wins. It hasn't been good enough the last two weeks. I think there's a lot of reasons obviously for that, and things that we can do better and hopefully this is the week for it.
Q: How does going up against a guy like Bill O'Brien who has familiarity with your system affect the play calling?
TB: I think there's a lot of crossover between the teams. Again, teams that we've played a lot like a Rex Ryan-coached defense – he's played against us a lot. Billy [O'Brien] being here, us knowing Billy, and George [Godsey], and Romeo [Crennel], and a lot of the players in their scheme and what they're asked to do. I think ultimately it's going to come down to how well we execute, and the plays and tackles and throws and runs and blocks. I think more so than we know each other's style, but at the same time it's going to come down to how well we execute.
Q: Do you have any insight into when Rob Gronkowski will be available?
TB: I'm not sure. Has he been available to you guys? No? Not yet? I'm not sure.
Q: How much do you miss him?
TB: He's a great player. I always wish we had these guys out. Everyone, whether it's Julian [Edelman] or [Rob] Gronkowski but different guys are dealing with different things. It's part of football season. I think you still have to be mentally tough to overcome whatever adversity you face and try to win a game so it may take on a little different form. Obviously when you lose good players it doesn't help at all but you've still got to figure out a way to have production and score points.
Q: How can you try and improve from some of the drops the receivers have had lately?
TB: I think we work on all those things in practice and the communication of when to expect the ball. Coach [Belichick] puts together a great game plan for us. Like I said, I know we're all capable of doing it. I certainly have a lot of confidence in the guys that I'm out there playing with. I certainly have confidence in the guys that I'm throwing the ball to or else I wouldn't throw it to them. I think it's just a matter of us ultimately going and making the plays when we have the opportunity to do it, and that starts with practice and doing it consistently in practice so we all can do it with confidence in the game.
BILL BELICHICK CONFERENCE CALL WITH HOUSTON MEDIA
Q: What have you seen from Brian Hoyer from the time you spent with him to where he is now?
BB: We saw a lot of what everybody is seeing from Brian. Smart kid, really handles himself well, has a lot of poise, has a lot of toughness, very good deep-ball thrower, sees coverages well even though he's not physically imposing, but he has good vision and good awareness and can certainly handle things at the line of scrimmage in terms of checks and audibles and that kind of thing. The big thing with Brian was he never got a chance to play here, which was a good thing for the team but kind of a bad for him. All his game experience was kind of for the most part preseason games, unlike [Matt] Cassel, who had a chance in 2008 to play 15 games. Brian was never in that position for us. He didn't get that opportunity until later, and he obviously made the most of it. I don't think we really see a lot different other than experience, which that's pretty valuable.
Q: What makes Danny Amendola the best option route runner in football?
BB: Danny has got a lot of good skills. He returns kicks, so he's a good ball handler. You can see his quickness and his ability to avoid tacklers in the open field and run with the ball after the catch. He's got good speed and he's able to separate, so the combination of speed, quickness and hands. And Danny is a smart player, he understands leverage and kind of when to speed up, when to sit down in a zone, that type of thing. He's good on scramble plays. He's gotten open on a lot of those. Not that our quarterback is a big time scrambler, but it comes up from time to time where he has the same connection with the quarterback on a loose play or a scramble play and turn that into getting open and creating a play there. All those things – the instinctiveness plus the skills. And he's tough. He's taken some big hits and hung onto the ball in really tight coverage in critical situations for us multiple times. That's another strong point for him.
Q: What have you see in Bill O'Brien's growth from when he was a quality control coach to where he is now with the Texans?
BB: I think Bill is a great coach, one of the best that I've had. He's right up there with all those guys. Very unusual to do what he did, to go from a coordinator position to a quality control position on our staff, but I think that shows you his work ethic, the confidence he has in himself. Then after Josh [McDaniels] left, he had the opportunity to work with the quarterbacks and be the offensive coordinator. I thought he did a great job with the staff, with the players and he was a big reason for a lot of our success during that timeframe. Bill has great leadership. He's really smart, but he's got a toughness about him and also that permeates to the team. I think we saw that during his two years at Penn State where even in a situation that's not good or things aren't going well or whatever, he's got a lot of mental toughness and is able to stay steady, composed, get people to follow him. And we had a number of situations, whether it was during a year or during a particular game where things like that came up and I saw the command and the presence and the poise, composure, good decision making that he has and showed multiple times. He's got a real good energy about him, and he's really a good football coach.
Q: Is there a way to quantify the advantages and disadvantages of going up against a guy that you have previous experience working with?
BB: It seems like that's every week – somebody who has coached on our staff or players that have played in our system for multiple years or had a significant role on our team. It seems like we have some element of that almost every week. I get that question from again whether it was a player or assistant coach or in this case a head coach, it's really pretty common. It's probably more common that that is the case than it isn't [the case]. In the end this game is going to come down to the teams on the field, how well they can execute and make plays at critical times in the game. Obviously all the key situations, turnovers, red area, third down, big plays, those are the plays that decide almost every game every Sunday in the NFL, and I'm sure it won't be any different this week.
Q: With your offensive line in flux, does your experience with Vince Wilfork help you prepare for him?
BB: We know him, he knows us, so we know what he knows and he knows what we know. I think that's just a game, that if you really want to get into that, I think it's a waste of a lot of energy that's not productive. It is what it is and just figure out the best way to deal with it and we still got to block him. Whether we know him or don't know him, we still got to block him. He's still got to defeat a block and tackle the runner or the quarterback or whoever it is. He knows [Bryan] Stork; Stork knows him. Honestly, we've played against guys that we played twice a year at the same position and playing those guys in a game is in a way probably better prepares you for playing the player in another game than practicing against a player because practice is practice. It's valuable but it's not the same as playing in a game when you're cutting and the defense is grabbing and there are other things that go on within the game that we don't do in practice for safety reasons. Like I said, I think if you played against a guy four, five, six, seven games, whatever it is playing him twice a year, you know that player better to play him in a game than you know a guy that you practice against because you haven't really seen quite that same style or level of play.
Q: You used to coach Lawrence Taylor and now you have to face J.J. Watt. How difficult is it to game plan around special players like that?
BB: Watt's a major force. There have been very few players I would put in the same conversation with Taylor but I would put Watt there. Now it's early in his career and he's done a lot already, Taylor did it over a long period of time, but Watt's done it pretty consistently now. He's that same kind of player. It's the same kind of player. I know he was the unanimous MVP last year. He's already earned that award this year, even if he didn't play the last four games, which this might be a good game for him to rest. But he's a dynamic player, very hard to block. You can't run at him, you can't run away from him. He wins with speed, he wins with quickness, he wins with power, he plays inside, he plays outside, he plays out on the tackle, he plays in on the guard, both sides of the line he's had production when they flipped him and he's played a little bit on the center, he's hard to block there, too, batted down I don't know how many passes. We've watched him bat them down for four or five years. He's very, very disruptive and can ruin the game. We've got to do a good job against him or it's going to be a long day. Now they have a lot of other good players on defense, too – I'm not saying that – but this guy is really, really special.
Q: What changes in your preparation week when you face a coach that you have previous experience with?
BB: I think we deal with that on a pretty regular basis. Coaches that have coached here or coaches that we've coached against multiple times or a coach on our staff that's coached with that person somewhere else, so maybe I don't know him directly but somebody on our staff has been in years of meetings with him. Again it's pretty much the same question that I answered before. The game is going to come down to the players and their execution on the field. Yeah, you know a little bit about them, they know a little bit about you, but that's the way it is every week to some degree and in some phase of the game.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Houston Texans putting in artificial turf?
BB: We haven't been on it, so I don't know.
Q: With the new movie "Concussion" coming out, what are your thoughts on that issue and seeing all the effects over the years?
BB: I'm not familiar with what you're referring to, so I haven't seen that. Obviously as a coach, there is nothing more important to me than the health and care of our players. Without healthy players, we don't have a team, so there is nothing more important than that. Whatever steps we can take on the medical end or on the football end to do the best we can to minimize any of those injuries or minimize the risk that the players are put in, I'm for. I've proposed and been involved in several rules that specifically relate to player safety as have many other coaches and organizations in the league, so I think that's something that all of us are always looking for. At the same time it's a contact sport, football is football, and when you have athletes that are the quality of the athletes we have in the National Football League competing at that high level, unfortunately there are going to be some injuries. But I think that overall the rules like on the defenseless receivers, roughing the quarterback, things like that, you see a lot fewer of those hits than we saw three, four years ago, so I think there is definitely some progress in some of those areas. Again that's really a bigger picture discussion that people who are a lot smarter than I am, that have a lot more experience in dealing with the medical side of that, they really should be involved in that and consulted on. As a coach, I do everything that I can to try to train the players and put them in the best physical condition we can get them in, which includes everything – their training, their flexibility and so forth – and we try to practice and play in a way that gives us the best chance to win and not put anybody in any unnecessary health risk situations that we possibly can. That's the way I look at it.
DEVIN MCCOURTY CONFERENCE CALL WITH HOUSTON MEDIA
Q: What are your initial thoughts on the Texans' offense when you watch them on film?
DM: I think the first thing is they're tough to prepare for. They do a ton of different things from an offensive standpoint as far a personnel and play-calling. It's really a true game-plan offense, where what exactly you're going to get each week you really don't know. They change it up and obviously, DeAndre Hopkins stands out on film. He makes some great catches down the field, and also they use the receivers and backs in the pass and run game.
Q: You run a similar offensive game plan as the Texans. Does that help you prepare for them since it's so unpredictable?
DM: I think it will a little bit. As far as when we play against our offense in training camp, we know a lot of the personnel can play different [positions], they can do a lot of different things, so we're prepared for that, but I still think it's a little different because their personnel is different. Everything we do offensively won't be the same as what they do, so we'll definitely have to prepare a little differently.
Q: What have you seen from DeAndre Hopkins and how tough is it to prepare for a guy like that?
DM: It's very tough. There's times where people have pretty good coverage one him and he has the ability to go up and get the ball and make tough catches with one hand, or any way he can try to get to the ball. He does a really good job of making tough catches, especially in traffic.
Q: What did it mean to get Jamie Collins back on defense last week?
DM: It's big. He's a big part of our defense. He's a guy that can do a ton of different things on the field. Any time you have a guy that's out there that much who plays a high percentage of plays, not having him is different, and when you get him back, it was good for our defense. I think it was good for him just to be able to get back out there and feel good being on the field.
Q: You guys started off 10-0 and have lost two straight games. What's been going on the past couple of weeks and what have you done to fix the problems?
DM: At this point in the season, we've all got do a little bit more to play better. I think we're like any other team. When you come off two losses, you understand you have to execute better and play better football, so our focus is on that. Our coaching staff is going to point us in the right direction, but it's up to us as players to really go out there and get it. We're excited this week and anxious to get back on the practice field today and will try to have a better show out there on Sunday.
Q: What's something you've personally been working on this year?
DM: Just trying to be there to help the whole group, the whole secondary in general. I'm trying to be a guy back there in command of not just knowing what I'm doing but being able to help other guys on the field. I'm just trying to use my experience and knowledge of our defense to point guys in the right direction.