HOUSTON — Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien reiterated Monday that he did not really see the hit Tom Savage took when it happened, but said if he had seen the video — he cannot see it on the sideline — he “would have never let [him] back in the game.”
Savage took a hard hit from defensive end Elvis Dumervil in the Texans’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. While he was lying on the ground, his hands appeared to be shaking involuntarily, but he was allowed back in the game for one series after being evaluated for a concussion. O’Brien said after the first “quick check,” he told team trainer Geoff Kaplan he thought Savage needed to be evaluated again.
“It wasn’t anything that I particularly saw on the field, I just said, look, that was a quick check,” O’Brien said Monday morning. “It was a three-and-out on that series. Let’s continue to check him to make sure that the player, Tom Savage, is OK. They went, they checked him, they came to me, they were not satisfied with his answers to the questions that they were asking him, and they pulled him from the game.”
On Monday, George Atallah, the assistant executive director of external affairs at the NFLPA, tweeted, “we are initiating a full review of the Tom Savage concussion from yesterday’s game.”
O’Brien was criticized after his postgame news conference for deflecting blame for the fact Savage stayed in the game. On Monday, he defended his comments, saying he’s “not passing the buck” for what occurred.
“At no point in time in my coaching career [has] there anything more important to me than the safety of our players,” O’Brien said. “I love our players, and I care about them. And I cannot stand when players get injured.
“Anybody that’s been on the sideline of a football game knows that from a coaching standpoint, you really can’t see things like that, especially when the ball is in certain areas of the field.”
Savage is still in the concussion protocol and O’Brien said he expects T.J. Yates to start at quarterback on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yates was 14-of-26 for 175 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Savage on Sunday.
With the loss to the 49ers, the Texans fell to 4-9, ensuring their first losing season under O’Brien. The head coach has one year remaining on the five-year contract he signed when he took over in Houston, and said despite the losses, he expects to be back next season. He also said his agent has not had a discussion with Texans owner Bob McNair about a contract extension and he has “no idea” whether that will happen after the season.
“I signed a five-year contract. I expect to be back here, but those decisions are not made by me,” O’Brien said. “My job is to make sure that I coach these players. I really care about these players. I really care about how hard they’re working and the effort that they’re putting in. And we’re not seeing the results on the field, so I really want to try to improve that over the next three weeks.”
“I enjoy being the head coach of the Houston Texans. I have great relationships with these players here, and I’m going to continue to coach hard until they tell me I’m not coaching here anymore.”