Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien talked to the media on Wednesday for the first time since the team’s 2016 season-ending loss to the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs. It has been close to two months since O’Brien has addressed topics about his team and, with new season on the horizon, he dropped a few nuggets at his press conference during the NFL Combine.
What were the biggest takeaways from O’Brien’s press conference? We take a look.
Backing DeAndre Hopkins
“As far as production and things like that, yeah the production dropped off a little bit but it wasn’t anything that he did.”
O’Brien backed his star wide receiver after he was asked about his drop in production but more notable was his reaction to the question. It was not a question well-received by O’Brien and he instantly went in to defend Hopkins, stating he did make some big plays for the offense in 2016. Either way, O’Brien made it clear Hopkins' struggles were not on him.
Too Much for Lamar Miller
“I think he probably carried it a little bit too much early on.”
O’Brien admitted that Lamar Miller carried the ball too much early on in the 2016 season and that his workload was a little much. Those early season carries led to some injuries later in the season and made him less effective. The question now falls on why O’Brien did not stop then offensive coordinator George Godsey from using Miller so much, and direct Godsey turn to the other three backs on the roster. Miller set a career high is carries (268) and tied a career low in yards per rush (4.0).
O’Brien plans on changing that trend in 2017 but the issue was something that should have been taken care of last year when his touches were trending up.
Focus is on the 60
O’Brien has arrived to the combine, studying the 60 players they want to schedule for 15-minute interviews during the week. The Texans are allowed 60 interviews to talk to players, pick their brains, and try to find out what those players are made of. O’Brien looks forward to the interviews in the evening with these prospects to find out more about them and will use that time to discuss things he has seen in film. O’Brien said, pertaining to the quarterbacks, he will talk to them about film he has seen on each individual prospect, covering protections, run game checks, what they were allowed to control, and how they handled key situations.
The fact that O’Brien opened up on what he is going to ask to quarterbacks means we can expect some to be on the interview list this coming week.
Camp in West Virginia
Bill O’Brien said moving training camp to West Virginia was based on cooler weather and bonding experiences for the team to get ready for the season. He mentioned the team traveling to Denver and Washington as good moments for the players in prior camps, allowing them to get out and around each other.
O’Brien did mention that the team will be back after a couple of weeks in West Virginia to hold some open practices in Houston for fans to attend. The decision to move camp was a joint decision among Bob McNair, Rick Smith, and O’Brien.
Adding a Quarterback?
Bill O’Brien deflected the question but it was more about the team not knowing who is available until it comes time. He said the Texans will monitor the market every day and continue to evaluate their roster to make sure they are in constant communication on possible moves to help the team.
The focus for the Texans is on the prospects at the combine and then will move to the free agency period, which starts in a week.
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