Houston Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Just in general when you have watched the Saints offense evolve over the years, what's really most striking to you about it? Is it the way they use their personnel? What's kind of the most striking thing?
“There are a lot of things that are striking to me about the Saints offense. Having watched these guys so many times over the years, it's just a very impressive operation. The efficiency with which they operate, getting lined up, the motions, the shifts, how quickly the ball comes out, how they make different plays. Runs and passes look alike relative to their play action game. Their ability on third down, the play calling, the creativity with the personnel groups. Like you said, the formations. It is just an excellent offense."
Your team’s obviously gone through some mixing and matching with the offensive line, but how much does the evaluation of a right tackle, how much has that changed over the past three or four years compared to maybe 10 or 15 years ago?
“I think the right tackle and left tackle are both having to block excellent players, (such as) Cameron Jordan, JJ Watt. The difference being with a right-handed quarterback, the right tackle is basically blocking the front side of the quarterback, the quarterback’s vision, whereas the left tackle is blocking the blind side. And so that is the difference. But at the end of the day, they both have to block great players. Here's a team with New Orleans that has Cameron Jordan and (Marcus)Davenport, who are both excellent players, active players, athletic players. Both sides have to block really good players.”
What jumps out to you the most when you see Ryan Ramczyk?
“When I watch Ramcyzk, I think he's a guy that we scouted extensively when he was coming out of Wisconsin. We really liked him a lot in the draft that year and he's really performed well. He's a guy that's very tough, very physical, athletic for his size, athletic guy, very instinctive player. Just an excellent player.”
How much have you seen Drew Brees change from the last time you saw him back in a regular season game in 2015?
“I would say the biggest thing, it is just having some different guys around them. Their personnel is a little bit different than what they had in 2015 with the addition of (Alvin) Kamara and Michael Thomas and some other guys. That is the biggest difference, relative to Drew Brees. He's one of the best ever do it. I got a chance to meet him at the 2010 Pro Bowl. (He is) just an awesome guy and a great Hall of Fame player. He's got great experience. He's been doing it for a long time and he's been doing it with Sean (Payton) for a long time. So they are always on the same page relative to how they want to do it. And so, it's a big challenge for us.”
Looking around the league, is there anything that strikes you as being particularly deep at quarterback position and I guess where would the Saints fall in that category?
“I think they have a really good roster at quarterback. When you look at, obviously, you know, we just talked about Drew, that's the obvious one, right? But with Taysom Hill and the things that he can do, that makes it a very dangerous position because they use him in a way that you better be alert for because he's a weapon and plays on special teams. They have versatility at that position and it's a position that's been well put together by the Saints.”
You probably didn't find much video in the preseason of Drew (Brees) throwing to Jared Cook. That being said, how do you approach being the first team to play the Saints with that new element in their offense?
“We’ve played against Jared in the past. Athletic guy, good route runner, has an ability to block, a versatile player. That'll be something that we'll have to (account for when we) go into the game. These first games are always tough because you're right, you don't have a lot of video evidence from the preseason to go on. So you're going off of previous years and things like that. It's tough so you have to do a good job of making sure that you're lined up, that you're communicating properly, and you just try to do the best you can to adjust, and make sure that the players are doing their jobs, and everybody's on the same page.”
You guys have had joint practices together in recent years. You didn't have it this year of course, but how does that experience for some of your players maybe impact how they can prepare for this opening game?
“We have a lot of new guys on this team that weren't in those joint practices, but some guys were so they've played against Drew (Brees) and some of our guys. For the most part, we have a new team so those joint practices were awesome. It's always good to be able to do that with Sean (Payton) because there's many things that we see the same way relative to football. Those joint practices were very productive, but it was tough to do that this year when we were opening with them. I think it's a new team and not sure how much those things help this team.”
Just going back to Drew Brees for a bit, do you think there's a reason guys like him can just have that sustained level of success for so long? Maybe just the way the rules are in football right now to be advantageous for quarterback. Is there anything you can point to there?
“I do not know about the rules. I think that these guys that last this long are just mentally tough, physically tough, incredibly smart, understand what to do off the field relative to the preparation and taking care of their bodies, and then balancing life. Being able to balance a family and football. I always say, if I was a young player in this league, there would be guys that I would be definitely studying as to how they lasted for 20 years in the league. Obviously, Drew would be one of them. How did he do it? Tom (Brady) who I had the fortune of coaching when I was in New England (would be another). Every young player, in my opinion, it's just my opinion should be studying these guys at that position and how they stayed for so long.”
The Saints ranked second against the run last year and obviously you have two running backs in Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde, both of them joined the team late this year. What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced getting these two guys caught up to speed real quick with Monday Night Football coming up so fast?
“Both guys were in systems came from systems that were pretty similar (to our system). They have heard the same similar terminology, the same type of runs. I think both guys are smart. They both picked up on it really well. We have had a couple of good days of practice here. I think these guys understand what we want to do. We’ll continue to practice throughout the rest of the week and get them up to speed. The Saints are good. The Saints are tough up front, active linebackers. Alex Anzalone I've known since I was head coach at Penn state. He's a great player. I talked about Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, we’ll see what happens with (Sheldon) Rankins, but they've got a lot of great players up front.”
Would you see any significance, even if you are not their coach and looking from afar in being the first team to play the Saints since the way their season ended last year with that emotional component of them opening at home on a Monday night?
They’ve been at a championship level for a long time. I think they have an ability, I don't want to speak for them, but I'm sure that they have turned a page and I'm sure they have had a great training camp. It's going to be a great game. You’ve got two teams that are starting off the season with high hopes and two teams that have a lot of great players on both sides of the ball and on special teams. It's going to be a great game and I'm sure that the Saints are looking forward to having a good 2019, just like the Houston Texans are. I think we've all moved on to 2019.”