[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="393316"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien
(on facing a team he used to work for in the New England Patriots)
"It's a big challenge. I mean, it's a big challenge to go up against a team that's so well coached and has a lot of really good players, a great quarterback. It's a big challenge for us. We practiced today, looked like we had a decent practice. But we're going to have to keep improving every day to be able to go out there and have a good game on Sunday night."
(on what his time in New England meant to him)
"It was a great experience. I had a really good experience there from a learning standpoint. I think every day you work there, you learn something new. Great guys to work with, Bill (Belichick) was a great head coach to work for. The thing that I always remember about Bill, being on offense there – look, he let you coach. He gave you the parameters and the guidance and then he let you go coach and be creative. Between that and having the ability to work with the other guys, like Josh (McDaniels), Dante Scarnecchia, Ivan Fears, Chad O'Shea, Nick Caserio, all those guys. Then coach the great players that we had there was a great experience for me."
(on learning from the coaches he worked with in New England)
"I think one thing that you have to do when you're a head coach is you have to be yourself. You can take the bits and pieces that you've learned that are good from all the places you worked. I worked in other places, too, in college and then obviously in New England, the pros. You can take some of the great things that you learn, but in the end, you have to do it your way. You have to have good instincts and good communication with the players on the team, the coaching staff. Just come in every day - I try to approach every day where I come in and try to be better as a head coach and try to listen to the players, listen to the staff. Try to lead the team the best way I know how. But you have to be yourself."
(on the Texans turnaround in the last month)
"We struggled there early on in all three phases. I think we came together as a team, I think the bye week came at a good time for us. We went into the bye week coming off of a win over Tennessee and that helped us. Then we were able to get together as a staff with the players and make the necessary changes, whether it was personnel-wise or schematically, to try to improve. Defensively, we're tackling better. We're communicating better. There's more trust on defense. Offensively, we're not turning it over like we were in the beginning of the year. We're getting pretty good quarterback play. We're able to find different ways to run the ball and we're doing that better. I think one thing that's been underrated for us is our special teams, for the most part, has played a lot better than we were earlier in the year. Hopefully, that continues. It has to get better in order for us to have a chance on Sunday night."
(on if having previously worked with Patriots QB Tom Brady will help on Sunday)
"I don't think so. I think that it was about four years ago that I was there. I think they've changed. The thing about Tom is, which is a credit to him and his work ethic, but he changes with the personnel on the team. He gets better every single year. He's playing, obviously, at a very high level. He poises so many challenges to us because of his knowledge of the game. In addition, his knowledge of their system. It's a big challenge for us. We've got to do a good job of playing our game, do what we do well. Play a disciplined football game and make sure we're communicating on defense. Tackle well and get off blocks and rush the passer. Do the things that we do well. But as far as my knowledge of being there, that was about four years ago so I don't see that being any advantage at all."
(on the Patriots missing key players and if he prepares for them)
"I think you have to get ready for everybody that's on that 53-man roster. We're not in the building so we don't really know the injury reports and things like that. If you think you're going to just go throughout the week and not be ready - for example, for (Rob) Gronkowski, like you're crazy. You have to be ready for everybody regardless of – unless they're on Injured Reserve or whatever. But everybody that has a chance to play in the game, you have to be ready for them. That's the challenge. That's the challenge for every team this time of the year in the NFL. We're all dealing with injuries and things like that. Every opponent, you have to be ready for every player."
(on Texans DE J.J. Watt)
"First of all, he's a great worker. So like, the guy's always in the building. He's either watching film, working out in the weight room, in the training room taking care of his body, out on the practice field taking every snap. The guy's just got a great work ethic. Then he's got a great skill set. I mean, he's 6-foot, 7-inches, 295 pounds. He's an excellent athlete. He's got great length. He's able to line up in different spots. He's not a one dimensional player. He can play the run. He can rush the passer. He can line up on the interior of the defensive line. He can line up on the defensive end spot. He can lineup at a lot of different places. He's got good knowledge of what his assignments are, what he's supposed to do to help the team. He's got everything you're looking for in a great player."
(on what he saw from QB Brian Hoyer when he was with the Patriots and what improvements he's made this year)
"That first year that we had him in New England in 2009, he was undrafted out of Michigan State and I remember we kind of recruited to come to New England to give us a shot, even though there were some guys. Obviously, Tom (Brady) but there were other guys on the depth chart. It was a little bit of an uphill climb for him to be able to make the team. But I remember him getting there and just having a great hunger for learning the game. Then he was able to apply that on the practice field as a rookie. I thought that, in my mind, I saw where maybe this guy would have a future in the NFL, to be able to play for someone. So, that was a good beginning for him. Since then, he's grown a lot. He's been through a lot. He's been hurt. He's been cut. He's dealt with the ups and downs. He's a mentally tough guy. He's having a good year for us and we need to have him have a good night on Sunday night."
(on Texans Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel and what he brings to the team)
"He's a great staff guy. Look, he's so knowledgeable about the game and just the way he was when he played. He really does a good job of teaching the game. I think the players, not only do they respect the fact that he played 14 years and won championships and played at a high level, but they respected his knowledge of the game and his ability to teach the game and communicate the game. He's a great, loyal staff member. He works very, very hard. I'm really glad he's on the staff here."
(on Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick calling the Penn State job 'one of the hardest jobs in America' when he took it and what he learned from his time there)
"I appreciate him saying that. Look, when we went to Penn State, we felt like it was a great opportunity for my family and the coaching staff that I brought there. Look, some things happened at Penn State. I think we were able to handle those things mainly because of the players that were at Penn State. I give a lot of credit to the guys that I was fortunate enough to coach there. We had great leadership on those teams. Those guys were resilient. We lost some guys my first year that transferred and things like that. But overall, the core group of guys stuck together and we were able to win some big games there. We lost a few, too. We weren't undefeated teams, but I felt like our players just did a great job of holding that thing together. I was really honored to be the head coach there."
(on what he did when he came to New England to make sure his personality was shown)
"When I came there in 2007, I just kept my mouth shut and sat in the corner. I tried to learn and work as hard as I could. That's the key there in New England. When you first get there, as a - whatever you want to call it, the quality control coach or whatever it is, you don't go in there having any answers whatsoever. You go in there to learn and work and be a part of a really top-notch coaching staff. Look, at the end of the day, I think Bill does a great job of really – however you want to phrase it- honoring hard work and loyalty. If you work hard and you do your job and you're smart in New England, you have a chance to be promoted and thankfully that's what Bill did for me. I owe a lot to him for doing that. But when I first got there, it was a huge learning experience for me that was a great year for me."
[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="393321"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Texans NT Vince Wilfork
(on if it is bitter-sweet going against his former team)
"We will see Sunday. Right now, I am just focused on playing football. That's what we get paid to do and that's my love. I don't know how I will feel Sunday once it hits. I probably won't any feel different just because I keep in contact with all of my guys, so I kind of feel like I never left them since I am always hearing from them, so you never know."
(on what his time in New England meant to him)
"It meant everything to me. For an organization to give me my first NFL job and to be there for 11 years, to win a lot of football, play a lot of tough ballgames, win a lot of ballgames, I could never forget that and I never will. New England is always going to be a part of me. That is like a second home to me, my family grew up there. Over 11 years that I spent up there, I had the chance to meet some great people, from the fans of the organization, my teammates, you name it, it was always something special that I had up there and I will continue to have up there because, like I said, it is like a second home to me. I never want anyone to think that I left on bitter terms or me and the organization, we fell out, because that's not the truth. We actually left on good terms, but that's just the way business is sometimes and I think sometimes you get caught up in just playing football and you forget it is a business, until it's time to handle it. I will always love the Kraft family. I will always love Bill Belichick, that organization, the teammates, the fans, I will always have my love for those guys because of the 11 great years we had up there. I will never forget that."
(on the transition to Houston)
"It was a smooth transition for me. I never thought that, in my whole career, I'd be playing in something other than a Patriots helmet, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes and it did. To get the opportunity to come down here to Houston with some familiar faces with another organization that is top-class when you are dealing with the community and all that stuff, so it's kind of been a smooth transition for me. My biggest thing was how are my kids going to take it and they are handling it pretty well, so I have been blessed. My whole career, I have been blessed to play for two organizations that are, first, all about family and then everything else comes after that. That is what it is all about at the end of the day, the personalities the personal relationships that you can build over your career, and I think I built some special ones, and I am always going to have those relationships no matter where I end up or how long I play this game, I think those friendships will always be there."
(on when the Patriots didn't pick up his option did he still think about returning on a new contract)
"Absolutely, absolutely, but it didn't happen like that. I don't regret anything that I have done in my career, that is just the way things happened, that is just the way things are. Could I still have been wearing a Patriots helmet? I think 100 percent, yes, if I wanted to and I just thought at that point in my career it was kind of just best for both sides to do what we did and, like I said, I didn't leave bitter, the organization definitely didn't leave bitter. It was a sadness there just because over the years what the organization meant to me, my coaches, especially (Patriots Head Coach) Bill (Belichick), Mr. (Patriots Owner Robert) Kraft, what they meant to me, personally, not just football wise. I think that was the hardest part being able to walk around from those guys from that level. But like I said, business is business. If I want to talk to them, I can always call them if I want. I'll always have that relationship with those guys, they know that I have nothing but love and respect for that organization. The coaching staff, especially Bill Belichick, what he done for me, to pick me 21st overall 12 years ago, to turn me into a nose tackle and to come up there after the Patriots just won a Superbowl and me being the first pick, I'll always remember that because he gave me my first job and he saw something in me that 20 other teams past up on and I am very humbled and blessed to be a part of that."
(on playing for Head Coach Bill O'Brien)
"The energy he has, the way he goes about getting through to his players and everything, so it's kind of similar to Belichick. We all kind of have been grown up from that mold and you can just see the similarities in meetings, practices and the things that we do, but also at the same time we are different, so it's good to see a different point of view from other coaches and then hear what other coaches have to say and how we attack game plan and how we do all that stuff, so it's good, but it is two totally different approaches that both coaches have and I am lucky to be coached by both of those guys."
(on why did he think it was the right business decision to leave last season)
"Well, that is the way the business is, I mean, it is what it is. If I had to do the same thing all over again, I would probably do the same thing that I did. I just felt in my heart and in my family's heart that this was the right decision to make to move on. That is what we chose to do. I am not upset about anything that happened. Like I said, I had 11 great years up there, I won a lot of ballgames, played in a lot of tough games, been in four Superbowls and won two, so I had a great career up in New England and I'll always remember that. I think at that point in time in my career, coming off of a Superbowl win, I think it was time for me to move on and open up another chapter in my life and my career and that is what we chose to do. I would never look back and say I made a mistake because I would be telling you a lie. I think things happen for a reason and that's the way our business happens, so it happened that way and it is what it is."
(on being back now with former teammate and current Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel)
"Vrabel is still Vrabel. This is the Vrabel I knew from playing with him and I try to tell these guys around here about when we played together, he was exactly the same way and they can't believe it, but it is something special for me to be with a guy that I played with that we actually see the game the same way, we talk the same way, two guys who understand the game, we are pretty smart when it comes down to the game and understanding what we need to do so that is something that we have and we try to relay that message to the team, especially defensive wise. He is always laughing just like when we played, telling jokes all of the time and talking crap all of the time, but Vrabel is being Vrabel. The Vrabel that you have seen as a coach is the same Vrabel that I have as a coach, which is funny to me, but it is awesome to have that in a room, especially with the younger generation of guys coming up that they can kind of relate to a coach that is young, but played the game at a high level and has some accolades himself, Superbowls and big games and stuff like that. I think guys cling onto him like they should and I am just here to let them know that what you see here now is what I had as a player and just the fun that we had was just amazing. He is still the same way."
*(on if he thinks that Texans Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel could have a future as a head coach) *
"Absolutely. If he wanted to he would be able to be a head coach at this level when the right time is appropriate. I think he knows that. I have some much respect for him, not only as a coach, but what he has done as a player, just being able to sit in a captain's meeting with him or sit on the sideline or sit in some meetings as a player, we watch film together, how he looks at the game, or when him and (Patriots Head Coach) Bill (Belichick) used to talk all of the team about football in general, he is very, very, very brilliant when it comes down to football, so I definitely see him having a coaching career at this level, being the head coach when the right time is appropriate."
(on going into battle against Patriots QB Tom Brady instead of with him)
"I got a job to do. That is my thoughts and I am looking forward to it. I am looking forward to seeing my guys. I am pretty sure I have a lot of guys that I would love to see and say hello to, but once that whistle blows, it's time to get to work and they feel the same way, once that whistle blows, I guess we are enemies now. But I will be back loving them after the game, but those 60 minutes, it's the Patriots versus the Texans and right now I am a Texans. I got a job to do and hopefully I can do it well."
(on Patriots QB Tom Brady saying that he hopes that he will take it easy on him)
"I have talked with Tom over the course of the year and he is always trying to slide it in. Tom knows, we are both competitive, but I would never do anything to try to injure anyone, but I do have to tackle. He should be okay."
(On Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick saying that he played his best game against the Bills last week)
"I have always been a type of football player, whether I was in high school or college, that towards the end of the year, I play my better ballgames towards the end of the year, so it's just as time goes on I get better and better. Nine times out of 10 you have guys that lose a step because they get worn down, they get tired, they get aches and bruises, but for me I have always been a type where once the middle of the season gets rolling towards the end of the season, I am at my best. I feel the same way, this year is no different than any other year that I have played and I am still on track to do the same thing that I have done over my career. With that being said, hopefully I can continue to get better, but if I play the way I normally play around this time of year, I expect more and more good play out of myself, but that is just the way I am. Each week I try to get better, especially at this time of year. I think good football teams and great players find a way to get better around this time. When you are hurt, when you are banged up, when you are tired, when you don't want to lift weights, I think that is when your leaders, your veterans, your great players kind of take over and kick it into another gear and I think right now, that's where I am at. I have always been like that so I expect the same thing."
(on if you are catching the Patriots at the right time)
"Let me tell you, it is never a good time to catch the Patriots. They are such a good football team and I had the luxury to be there for 11 years and over my time we lost some games and everything, but that team is always going to be ready to play. It is all about execution and I tried to tell our guys all of the time that preparation is everything for us and this week is no different than any other week. We try to prepare the best way that we can and, hopefully, on gameday, be able to execute on a high level. It's going to be the same thing this week. We are not looking at any records, we are looking strictly off of what we see on film, how explosive this team is, how well they play on defense, you name it, you see a good football team and it's just a consistent football team over the course of the years that they always play good football. Especially at this time of the year, they always play good football. We really don't look at the losses from these guys because we know how good they are and we have to stay focused on that."
(on if he still talks to Patriots players about how they're playing)
"You know what, there's guys that I've always talked to. I talk to some of those guys once a week, sometimes twice a week, or whatever it may be. Because I have a lot of friends in that locker room. I played football with a lot of those guys for a long time. Our relationship goes beyond football. A lot of times, we don't even talk about football. It's always how the family is doing, how you're doing, how you feel. I always try to give words of wisdom to them, no matter what the situation maybe. If it's football or family related. I always expect everybody to work towards being a leader, no matter if it's your first year or tenth year or whatever it may be. You have to always be that leader because you never know whose looking at you or who's watching you day in and day out. You have to carry yourself as a great leader. I think over the years, we had so much in that locker room and I'm pretty sure they still do. So it's good to hear from those guys. At the same time, I like to talk to them because of the relationship that we had over my 11-year span. Some of those guys coming in as rookies and second year guys are that now are in year eight, year nine - we kind of grew together. It's good to see how they've become and what type of player they've become, what type of man they've become, what type of leader they've become, how dependable they can become, and all of those things. I feel proud and I smile when I see things like that. They let me know that they kind of took the conversations that we had over all those years. Even now, they kind of took it to heart. It meant something to them for them to carry themselves the right way. I'm very proud of those guys that I share those relationships with."
(on playing next to Texans DE J.J. Watt)
"It's a sight to see, I'll tell you that. To see him work every day, to see him practice every day, to see him prepare every day – I always tell myself how lucky I am to be playing with a guy like that. I remember when I was in New England, we would always watch him on film and we always used to say, 'J.J. Watt' and we'd laugh. Here I am, a year later or two years later, I actually get a chance to have front row seats every day to watch him. In the same meeting rooms, watching film together, and talk to him to see what he's thinking on this play. Just to pick his brain and see what makes him tick. I have a front row seat for that. That's been a blessing for me, especially at the end of my career, where I can come in and watch somebody like this that's the future of the NFL. That's doing some stuff that's unheard of – the type of things that he does, the plays he makes, how much he's accounted upon to make plays and things that he does. It's a blessing for me to be in the same locker room with him. I cherish that moment every day. It's special. It definitely is special."