HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – So today at NRG Stadium was an interesting one for yours truly.
Quarterback Brock Osweiler struggled again Sunday. Head coach Bill O’Brien was asked immediately after the game if he was going to stick with Osweiler going forward. And he said yes, dismissing the follow up question.
But come on, are we really supposed to stop asking questions about Brock’s struggles? Nope.
Last night, I thought long and hard about what to ask O’Brien about Osweiler. A question that would actually get a legitimate answer. So, I decided to ask about Osweiler’s biggest issue: his accuracy.
I didn’t get the first question in. John McClain did, and he asked “what do you see that gives you confidence that Osweiler can play better and be more consistent?”
O’Brien’s strategy? Deflecting and talk about the whole team in the context of a 160 play game.
“Obviously, the head coach and the quarterback take the most criticism when you lose,” said O’Brien. “That’s the nature of the business and we all understand that – but there are 11 guys on the field. There’s an offensive line, there’s running backs, there’s receivers, there’s tight ends. Could Brock have done some things better yesterday? Absolutely. Could the offensive line have played better yesterday? Could I have coached better yesterday? Absolutely. It’s a team sport. Brock is our starting quarterback and that’s the way it is.”
So then I entered the fray. Here’s what it sounded like:
The script form:
Paul: Football is a team sport, as you mentioned
O’Brien: Yes it is, Paul
Paul: When Osweiler, though, unfortunately if he has an inaccurate pass, that’s going to mean a whole lot more than a lot of the mistakes made by some of the other players. He said (after the game) when I asked him about some of the interceptions that he made the right read on the play to Hopkins, and it just didn’t get there. Then the pass to Griffin obviously sailed a little bit.
O’Brien: What play to Hopkins? Hold on now. There’s 160 plays in the game. Ask me exactly what play you’re talking about.
Paul: The first interception of the game.
O’Brien: “It was a play-action pass where three blocks were missed up front. He was flushed from the pocket and he tried to make a play to Hopkins. Hopkins was on the sideline and the guy made a nice play undercutting it. Look, in the end, could he have thrown it away? Yeah, he could have thrown it away but a lot of things went wrong on that play, the interception wasn’t a great thing. The other play you’re talking about, that was to (C.J.) Fiedorowicz, not Griffin. He threw an interception. He tried to hit a seam ball versus Tampa coverage to Fiedorowicz, which I thought was the right read on the play. He just made a poor throw. That’s one play out of 160 plays. Of course we have to take care of the ball better. We can’t turn it over. I mean I’ll go through every single play with you. Any play you want to ask me about I’ll go through it. But I’ll correct you when you’re not right about asking about what play. He was going to Fiedorowicz on that play, made a poor throw, made the right read, but got to make a better throw. There’s 159 other plays in the game that we could dissect. Again, it’s all about 11 guys doing it as consistently as they can on the same page. It’s all about correcting those things and understanding how close you are to getting it right. It’s all about understanding that this league is a very tight league and that we all have to do a better job, starting with me, leading into the Green Bay game.”
Paul: But on the accuracy front, and I understand what you’re saying on those 2 plays…
O’Brien: We could be here all day. I enjoy your questions. I really do. “I think one of the keys to being a good quarterback is being accurate. We work on accuracy with all of our quarterbacks all the time. I think that’s a key. I think Brock will be the first one to tell you. I think there’s been very many times where he has been accurate and there’s been other times where he hasn’t been as accurate as he needs to be. He’s working very hard to be as accurate and improve his accuracy all the time. We work hard on it with him.
[Note, bad job by me confusing the Texans’ white tight ends. #Racist]
I wanted to get in to the HOW someone can improve themselves from an accuracy standpoint, but I’m not entirely sure how productive that would have gone.
O’Brien’s press conference was a strange one . . . and a long one. He touched on many of the same issues we’ve come to expect him to discuss: penalties, the struggles on offense and in the red zone, not to mention the defense. But on all things Osweiler, he deflected. For example, when he was asked about where brock has made “the most progress this season, and what areas would you like him to improve moving forward”:
“I’m not going to get into all the different areas,” responded O’Brien. “I could get into areas where I need to do a better job. Where can I do a better job? I’m not going to dissect where each player what areas they need to do a better job in. I mean, we could be here all day. Every player on our team – we have a great locker room. They’re all looking to improve in any way that they can. Coaches are looking to improve. Look, we’ve got five games left. I know everybody out there has given up on us but there’s nobody in here that’s given up on themselves or on this team. So we’re going to fight, we’re going to try to improve and we’re going to try to do a little bit better job next time out.”
The reporter – Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press – followed up, and O’Brien refused to answer. “I told you, I’m not dissecting the areas.”
Let’s go back to the bold line in the quote above, which I imagine few people are disagreeing with today. “I know everybody out there has given up on us but there’s nobody in here that’s given up on themselves or on this team.” John McClain followed up and asked about that quote. Apparently O’Brien forgot.
“Did I say that?” asked O’Brien. “I didn’t mean it that way. Look, what I mean is, when you lose a game in the NFL, it’s terrible for everybody involved: the home city, the team, the players – everybody understands that. But what we have in our locker room is a bunch of resilient guys that know that they’re 3-0 in their division, that there’s a lot of football left. If I could take that back, I’d take it back. I didn’t mean it that way. I meant that there’s a lot of ball left and it’s football.”
I’m not going to jump down O’Brien’s throat on this, because [sadly] I sometimes forget what I’ve said just 5 minutes before on my show. But I’m not going to include the second half of that quote, where O’Brien went on a long tangent about how the league is set up to be an 8-8 league. Because again, it felt like a deflection.
O’Brien wasn’t done backtracking from that comment earlier. He brought it back up again after being asked if this time of year could be a defining point for the Texans.
“I know you guys have a job to do,” continued O’Brien. “I just mean it’s very difficult to lose in this league. It’s just a hard thing because you put so much work into it. What I mean is we all realize the tough games. Every game is tough. We’re going into Green Bay. It’ll be a very difficult team, very difficult opponent, great coaching staff.”
That it will. Especially in cold Wisconsin weather on the road, where Osweiler has had some extremely shaky performances. Here’s to hoping Brock is accurate Sunday. Otherwise, I may find myself re-writing this article.
Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.