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Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien Speaks ... And Speaks, And Speaks Some More

Something like a Belichick disciple.
Something like a Belichick disciple.
Photo by BenJones88 via Wikipedia

We all know Houston Texans' head coach Bill O'Brien is one of the many branches off of the Bill Belichick tree. To call him a Belichick disciple might be overstating things, as O'Brien likely seeks to carve out his own style.

But no doubt, along the way, O'Brien has and will continue to take certain aspects from Belichick's coaching style.

If you've ever watched a Belichick press conference, then you know that part of said style is to give answers that are so short and dismissive that the media walks into every session with an odd combination of fear and confusion coursing through their veins. Belichick is practically a robot. A mean robot who will tear your heart out with invisible lasers from his eyeballs.

This whole part of Belichick's deal, the condescending asshole press conference part, apparently will not be something O'Brien "brings with him" to the Texans portion of his career.

At least it appears that way.

O'Brien met with the media at the league meetings in Orlando yesterday, and he was downright chatty. Hell, he was engaging to the point that it seemed like dude just wouldn't shut up! When did anyone ever say that about Belichick?

Obviously, between being totally new to the job and coaching the team with the number one pick in the draft, there's a lot the media wants to know from and about Bill O'Brien. And from the draft process to J.J. Watt to his family to Flight 370 (ok, maybe not Flight 370), he was more than happy to share his thoughts.

For the sake of brevity, I will keep this post focused on his quotes about the different quarterbacks, since O'Brien has confirmed that they will indeed take a quarterback at some point in this draft. Here's a transcript of the quarterback response highlights of O'Brien's session on Tuesday:

On if a quarterback like Blake Bortles is too raw to start right away:

"He certainly hasn't played a lot of football, relative to other guys because he's been the starter there for two years. He's a guy, I think a lot like a lot of these guys, who has worked extremely hard to improve every year. Even in this short period of time since the bowl game, and I could say this about all the guys, they've really worked hard on improving. Whether they've hired a quarterback coach like Blake has Jordan Palmer, who has obviously done a good job with him to improve some of his skillset. That's what you look at. Does this guy get better and is he trying to get better? Is he working at getting better? Blake, like all of these guys, is trying to get better."

On if he saw improvement in Blake Bortles workout last week:

"Yeah, I did. I saw it in his workout the other day, again, that's an on-air workout. Really, if you're throwing to guys that you're used to throwing to, which I think he was, he had (Jeff) Godfrey there and a couple of receivers and a couple of backs, the ball really never hit the ground. I think it only hit the ground like twice. You could see better footwork. You could see a more compact delivery. I'll say this about Teddy (Bridgewater)--I was at Teddy's too--people made a big deal about Teddy's day, but I thought Teddy had a decent day. He threw some incompletions but Teddy has obviously worked extremely hard to improve his footwork, his throwing mechanics and he's working with Chris Weinke. So you've got Chris Weinke and Jordan Palmer, I mean those guys know what they're talking about. I've seen improvement there and I'm sure we'll see improvement with Johnny (Manziel) when we show up there on Thursday, because he's working with George Whitfield. He's doing some unique things. I saw an article where he's dropping back in the beach and the ocean and stuff like that. I think these guys, like I said yesterday on NFL Network, there are other quarterbacks in the draft. I think it's just being a quarterback coach, I think it's important to know that there are a lot of quarterbacks that are winners, that have played well. I probably shouldn't mention names because I'll forget somebody but you've got (A.J.) McCarron and (Zach) Mettenberger and (Jimmy) Garoppolo, you can go right down the line. (Tom) Savage is a guy, we were at his pro day. There are a lot of guys that can play quarterback."

 

On if there is a separation between the perceived top three quarterbacks and everyone else:

"I don't, but that's just my opinion. Somebody else might have a different opinion. Just my opinion is that I see strengths and weaknesses with every one of these guys. I don't see where there are one or two guys, or three guys, that are just light years ahead of the rest of them. Some of these guys, if you look at A.J. McCarron and Zach Mettenberger, those guys played in the SEC, and so did Johnny (Manziel). That's a tough conference. Zach and A.J., they won a lot of games in the SEC so they must've been doing something right."

On if he would agree with the assessment that there is not a quarterback ready to start on day one:

"I think that it's very, very difficult to play quarterback as a rookie right away. I think to expect a guy to go in there and play right away against a, for instance, Rex Ryan defense is very difficult. At the same time, you better be ready to do it, because you never know what might happen. I think what we're trying to do in Houston is set up, at every position, a very competitive roster so that through the spring and into training camp at every position--quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line, secondary--we want a very competitive roster and let these guys win their positions on the field. That's what we're trying to do and if that means a guy has to play as a rookie, then that's what a guy has got to do."

On how T.J. Yates and Case Keenum fit into the team picture now that Matt Schaub has been traded:

"Compete. They've all been told basically the same thing. They're going to be given a chance to compete. We brought Fitzy (Ryan Fitzpatrick) in the other day and had a good talk with him. I told him, 'Look, nothing is guaranteed. You're coming in here to compete and try to get better every day and to try to be the starting quarterback.' That's the same thing I told Case. Case played I think eight games last year. T.J. has been the quarterback of this team when they went to a playoff game, so they all have experience. The deal is competition."

On if QB Johnny Manziel's style sustainable in the NFL:

"Yeah. If you watch some of his games, obviously, he is a very exciting player when breaks the pocket and runs but if you watch the Ole Miss game--I think something happened to him in the Ole Miss game where he got injured. I think he might have hurt his ankle or something. He came back. He threw from the pocket in that game. I think if you watch him, he's going to be able to do a lot of different things. So, I think it's sustainable."

On if a player like Johnny Manziel can address issues like whether or not he's a pocket passer against air:

"Again, it's on air. There's no defense rushing him but you can look at the mechanics and how the ball is delivered and where the ball is placed for a receiver. So if the guy is running a comeback, you want it on his outside number. If the guy is running an in-cut, you want it two feet in front of the numbers because he's on a moving route. You can gauge some of that but you can't make a final decision on throwing on air with no pass rush, scripted workout. But you can see what they've done mechanically to try to improve: footwork, throwing motion, all that."

On if Russell Wilson's success has helped Johnny Manziel:

"I think everybody's different. I think you can say that. I've thought about that a lot. I think every individual is different. I think you've got to judge the guy based on what you see. We do definitely make comparisons, like we'll say, 'Okay, in some ways, he's like this guy,' at any position. We look at Greg Robinson, the tackle from Auburn. So who is he like? Is he like this guy that played in the pros that we're familiar with? Yeah, we do make comparisons. As far as that guy helped this guy, at the end of the day, you judge the guy based on his own skill set, his own production in games, his own improvement during the draft process. All those things."

On what kind of improvement he is looking for from Johnny Manziel at his pro day after saying Blake Bortles had improved at certain things at his:

"Similar things. Has he improved footwork-wise, throwing motion, knowledge of coverages? All those things. You kind of try to look for similar things even though each player is different so that when you go back at any position and you judge what you're going to do and you decide what you're going to do, you at least have a progression of these eight to 10 categories."

On if Johnny Manziel requires a different commitment from his team due his playing style:

"You certainly can. With a guy like Johnny, you can't box him into a certain way of playing. He's been successful since he was probably four or five years old, playing the way he plays. I think all of our systems, I guess I'll just speak for ours, we have a system that is very adaptable to many different types of quarterbacks. We have 'move the pocket' type plays. We have drop back plays. We have option plays. Nobody has ever seen them because we haven't had those types of quarterbacks. We did when we coached in college and things like that. You can't force a guy to be something that he isn't."

On if Johnny Manziel's style can be successful in the NFL despite the vulnerability of that style:

"That's a great way to ask that question. Yes, the answer is yes. That player, whoever it is, Johnny or whoever, they have to learn how to play when they get out of the pocket. There is a technique to sliding. There is phrase: you have to know when the journey is over. The journey is over if you think you're going to keep struggling for yards in this league like you did against Montana State, you've got another thing coming. These guys are going to wail on you. The answer is yes, but there is some teaching that goes on too."

On if he likes Johnny Manziel's charisma:

"I enjoy watching him play. I definitely enjoy watching him play. He's an exciting player. Again, I would say this about all those guys: I just really enjoy watching these guys play. Johnny is an exciting guy to watch play."

On Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo:

"First of all, really class-act of a kid. Really good kid. Smart. He went through some tough times at Eastern there where they were like 2-9 I think two years in a row and then they kind of turned it around. He was a big part of that. He's got a quick release. He's athletic. Just really enjoyed talking football with him. He's a great kid."

 

On if anything surprised him about Jimmy Garoppolo in his meeting with him:

"Nope."

On Houston fans possibly worrying about having Derek Carr as the face of the franchise:

"Believe me, when we're thinking about who we're drafting, we're thinking about that individual person, not who his brother was or who his cousin is or who his mother was. The fans in Houston are awesome and they're a big part of what we're doing but if we started asking the fans about who we should draft, I'll be sitting next to you at the next game. We try to look at who the individual guy is and Derek Carr is another guy on that list of quarterbacks that I was saying that's a good football player. He's a had a productive college career."

On Derek Carr overcoming a lot off the field and if he's had a chance to talk with him:

"I haven't. I haven't had a chance. I know our scouting staff has spoken with him extensively. Personally, I watched him at the combine, I've watched him on tape but I haven't really had a chance to talk to him."

On what stands out about Derek Carr's game:

"I like his size. I like his accuracy. I like the way he manages the game. He's a smart kid. You can tell."

And finally, a bonus thought on his plans for J.J. Watt...

"The thing about J.J. is as it relates to Romeo (Crennel's) packages is it's a very multiple package. We run a base 3-4 defense, so the first day of mini-camp we'll line up in this 3-4 and that's what we run. After that, it goes to some three-down looks, some four-down looks, some odd looks where he'll be moving around. It's just a very multiple defense. 70 percent of the game now is played in nickel. When we went through our snaps, I think against last year's Texans offense, I think 75 percent of the snaps were played in nickel or dime because a lot times, Houston was in 11 personnel. He's going to fit in very well with what we do."

Breathe easy, Houston. They're going to find a way to take advantage of this J.J. Watt guy.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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