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Quotes: Wednesday practice

Posted Sep 21, 2011

Read what head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and some of the Texans said to the media on Wednesday after practice.

The Texans practiced Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and a few players answered questions from the media. Also, Saints head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees answered questions from the Houston media in a conference call. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.

Houston Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Houston Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
T Duane Brown
WR Andre Johnson
CB Johnathan Joseph
QB Matt Schaub
WR Kevin Walter
DE J.J. Watt
T Eric Winston

New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton Conference Call
New Orleans QB Drew Brees Conference Call

 

Houston Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on all of the injuries) “Arian (Foster) did not practice. Jacoby (Jones) did not practice. Derrick Ward did not practice. J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph) did practice. He was fine. Kevin (Walter) practiced and all signs are pointing in the right direction. That was it for the day.”

 

(on WR Jacoby Jones’ injury) “Banged his knee, swole up on him. We drained it, drained it again today, so it could be end of the week before he’s back out here. We think he’ll be okay, but just knee swole up on him.”

 

(on if it’s too early in the week to have an indication on the running back situation for Sunday) “Yeah, I think it is. Arian (Foster) didn’t practice, but he worked real hard. We’re putting him through a program. It may be a routine right now on Wednesdays. We’ll see where he’s at, but obviously we’ve got two guys unless we would do something with (Chris) Ogbonnaya. You can play a game with two guys. You don’t like two. You’d like to suit up three, but we’ll see. We’ll see where Arian’s at.”

 

(on QB Drew Brees) “He’s one of the top guys in football and has been for a while. I watched him in San Diego do it and I’ve been watching him here in New Orleans. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s a great leader, loves to play the game, runs that offense to perfection. We’ve got our hands full.”

 

(on the size of the Saints) “Yeah, they’re built pretty big. When we played them here in the preseason, they just lined up and went downhill at us, our defense especially. They’re a very athletic football team, built around a lot of speed outside and that turf makes them even faster and now they went and added one of the top returners in the game, so a very dangerous football team and we know that.”

 

(on if it’s good or bad to win against a team in the preseason and then play them again in the regular season) “I don’t know. I don’t know that it has any factor. Whoever plays the best is going to win. That was a pretty vanilla football game from both teams standpoint. A lot of people played in that game. Obviously going there and playing them is a big different story for us, as far as trying to handle crowd noise and that atmosphere. They’re a great football team. We’ll have to play great.”

 

(on if he held back some of his play calling in the preseason game against the Saints) “I don’t know. I don’t feel that way. Every week, you go out there and try to be at your best. In the preseason, obviously you’re playing a lot of players so you probably cut down scheme-wise in some of the things you’re doing, but bottom line is you got to play good. New plan, new game, see what happens.”

 

(on the Saints defense) “They’ll come get you. He likes to blitz and we know that. He’s very aggressive, so we got our hands full protecting our quarterback and the best way we can protect him is keep our down and distance manageable and that means probably running the ball for us. We know what we’re up against. They’re about aggressiveness as a football team. It doesn’t matter if it’s third-and-15 or third-and-2, he’ll come get you, so we’ll have to be ready to do our job.”

 

(on the backs picking up the blitz) “Well that’s a factor. Ben (Tate) has been good at times. He’s struggled at times, so we need him to be at his best. Steve’s (Slaton) probably further along from a standpoint of the mental approach of having more reps and Arian’s (Foster) excellent at protecting the quarterback, so hopefully we’ve got them all available, but it will be a challenge up front as well.”

 

(on what makes the Saints so tough) “Like I said, there’s a lot of people that put pressure on people, but these guys will do it all down and distances. It doesn’t matter, so when you’re building a plan or trying to play against them, that’s got to be in the back of your mind all the time. Like I said, the best way for us to combat that is to stay on schedule. You start getting penalties, you start having sacks against this team and going backwards or having third-and-longs, you’re in for a long day.”

 

(on the development of RB Ben Tate) “It’s fun to watch when you get a guy who’s talented, just watching them try to become a pro or as they become a pro, I guess is a good way to put it. He was out last year. He did study. He stayed in his book. He comes into camp this year. He misses a little time. He just kept working. He got an opportunity through injury really. That’s the honest fact and he’s taking advantage of it. You got to be impressed with what he’s doing with this opportunity and hopefully it continues.”

 

(on if he’s concerned they are leaning too heavy on RB Ben Tate) “Well, I think that’s us telling how much confidence we have in him. It’s like the other day when he started, the way he was carrying that ball in the last 10 minutes of the game, there was no doubt who had control of what was going on. That player right there is telling you by how he’s playing to ‘Give it to me. I can get it handled,’ so hopefully that continues to grow. I know he’s getting some confidence, he believes himself and he knows he’s got to get better and that’s probably the most important thing.”

 

(on if there’s anything that has surprised him about RB Ben Tate) “I think the fact that he’s gotten a little better the longer he goes in a game. He’s got speed. He’s a big play player, but it sure looked like as he carries the ball, he gets a little stronger too, so that was impressive.”

 

(on causing turnovers) “Well that’s huge. We lost the turnover battle Week 1 and won the game, but last week, the reason we won the game is because we were plus-two. We win the turnover battle and find a way to run the ball, we’re going to have our chances every week. It’s very important. Our defense has been getting their hand on a lot of them and hopefully it continues.”

 

Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on if the Texans have a particular running back philosophy) “No, I don’t think there is. I think it’s whoever gained yards. We just happened to be in that sort. It’s whoever’s hot. We have a lot of guys, we try to teach them all the same way and try and get them to do the same thing. They’ve done a great job working hard at it. Ben (Tate) is the next example, I guess.”

 

(on how important it is to have WR Kevin Walter back) “Well, certainly the toughness issue because Kevin (Walter) is one of the toughest guys we got. He does everything you ask him to do; the dirty work, the easy work, whatever. He’ll go out there and he’ll grind. He won’t take any snaps off. For a team standpoint, having Kevin back will be great.”

 

(on the “dirty work” he was talking about) “Just all the stuff in the run game and selling some of the stuff in the pass game. We ask him to do a lot of hard work. It’s not easy for a wide receiver, but he’s exceptional at that.”

 

(on what FB James Casey is doing that has allowed the team to move on without missing a beat) “I think (James) Casey’s done everything we’ve asked him. He does a great job of breaking the formation, obviously getting out, he’s such a good athlete. But he’s done what you’ve asked him in the run game, as far as facing up a linebacker and getting that job done. He’s given us a lot of versatility.”

 

(on how much FB James Casey’s versatility creates issues for the opposition) “Well, you’d have to ask them that. We hope it does.”

 

(on what issues he thinks FB James Casey’s versatility presents for the opposition) “We think it just makes them have to cover more aspects of the field, more green grass so it spreads out for the rest of the guys.”

 

(on how much FB James Casey’s blocking has improved) “Oh, he’s improved a lot. And he’s working really hard at it for that reason you see him improve. He’s out here every day, trying to get better at it.”

 

(on how much time the Texans spent on the Saints blitzing) “Certainly when someone has a lot of packages like they have, we have to work on it. We have to do that on every week. Everyone has a certain amount of pressures that they will use. Everyone is just a bit different, so we’ll spend our time in meetings, in practice and walkthroughs picked up.”

 

(on if down and distance has much to do when the Saints blitz) “At times. Sometimes I just think he dials it up when he wants to. We don’t have a crystal ball. We just have to be ready for every snap.”

 

(on if the Saints were “vanilla” in the preseason, knowing they were going to play the Texans in the regular season) “I wouldn’t know that. We had a good day. But I wouldn’t know that, you’d have to ask (Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams).”

 

(on if he’s interested to see if his team can take that “next step”) “That’s what we’re trying to do is just go 1-0 this week. We have to put whatever we did right or wrong behind us, look forward and try and get better each week.”

 

(on if there is anything he can take away from the preseason win against the Saints) “You see some aspects of what they’re trying to do structure-wise, but you never know exactly what (Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) is trying to do. We’ll work on some of that and certainly our game plan will change, too. Each week’s a new challenge, so this week’s certainly a new challenge for us.”

 

(on if he expected to see the level of play he’s seen from RB Ben Tate) “Yeah, we had hoped to when we had drafted him and then real disappointed when we didn’t get him at all last year. We saw some dramatic improvement, obviously since training camp. The thing we missed was having him in OTAs because that wasn’t available to us. You don’t know how far he would’ve gone along and there was a big question because he hadn’t spent a whole lot of time and certainly he’s done everything we’ve asked.”

 

(on if the Saints’ crowd and Saints blitzing creates “double jeopardy” for the offensive line) “We’ll have to handle it. Whatever’s asked of them to do, they’ll get it done. They’ve responded every time we’ve challenged them and this is a new challenge.” 

 

T Duane Brown
(on the challenges of the Saints defense) “Very tough defense. They play well as a unit. Their D-Coordinator dials up a lot of blitzes. Another big challenge is playing against them in the Superdome having that crowd behind them, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. We’ve faced them every year in the preseason.”

 

(on if he didn’t learn much from the preseason game against the Saints) “Yeah, but we noticed stuff, the packages they have. They showed a little bit more last year when he played them. Same personnel, more or less, so we’re pretty familiar with them.”

 

(on if it’s more challenging what the Saints do structurally or the fact that they blitz frequently) “Yeah, they’re very relentless. The structure isn’t too bad, but those guys get after it. They’re very aggressive, play with a high intensity and they try to intimidate you with their style of play.”

 

WR Andre Johnson
(on reporters being in the locker room while the players are changing) “It’s part of the job, so I’m used to it. This is my ninth season. I have no choice but to be used to it now.”

 

(on what he thinks of first when he hears “Saints”) “Winners. They played in the Super Bowl a few years ago; they’ve been playing in a lot of big games. We’re trying to get to that point to where they’ve been. That’s the first thing I think about.”

 

(on the role receivers play against a team that blitzes so much like the Saints) “Well, you have to beat their man-coverage or whatever kind of coverage they put out there. You just have to find a way to get open. The o-line has to give Matt (Schaub) the time and we have to find open holes in their defense. That’s pretty much it. We have to protect and go out and make plays.”

 

(on how much the Texans have talked about taking the crowd out of the game on Sunday) “The only way you’re going to take the crowd out of the game is by making plays that’s the only way you’re going to take the crowd out of the game. You have to go out and make some plays early and just try to keep them quiet.”

 

(on if the Texans can take anything from their preseason win against the Saints to help in Sunday’s game) “No, it really doesn’t matter. They really didn’t do much against us, as far as blitzing and things like that. We knew that. You look at them on film now, you see all the blitzes and things that they’re doing when they play against people. You really can’t worry about what happened in the preseason.”

 

(on the potential to make big plays against a team when you pick up their blitz) “Yeah, there’s a possibility to make plays. You can see other teams make plays on them. That’s what happens when you take chances like that. They do a great job of mixing it up and they’ve been very successful with it. It will be a challenge for us. Like I said, they’re a good football team and it’s going to be a challenge for us, so we have to be ready to go out and execute our offense on Sunday.”

 

(on if a blitzing defense like the Saints’ can make an offense have to be more patient in order to get the ball out safely) “Whoever gets the opportunity, you just have to make the best of it. There is going to be a time in the game where we have to catch a short pass and probably take it the distance or get a long run. Those are the things that have to happen against a team like that when they do those type of things to you.”

 

(on if the Saints are the first true test for the Texans) “As long as you win every week, it’s going to be tougher and tougher. We play a hell of a football team. We know what type of team they are. We went against them pretty much I think the past three years in training camp. We’re pretty familiar with each other, but at the same time, we all have to go out and get it done on Sunday.” 

 

(on QB Matt Schaub’s secret to being such a successful quarterback on the road) “Matt (Schaub) never panics. If something bad happens, he’s a guy who has a very short-term memory, who forgets about it and move on. That’s the thing about him, when something bad happens, in the huddle, he’s the first one to (say) ‘Hey, man, forget about it. Let’s go on to the next play.’ I think that’s what helps him out a whole lot. He forgets about what happens, whether it’s positive or negative. He just goes on to the next play.”

 

(on QB Matt Schaub’s demeanor in the huddle) “You just never know. I’ve been in the huddle where one time everybody was serious and he came in and told a joke right before he said the play and he got a laugh out of everybody and kind of loosened everybody up. But you never know. He’s serious most of the time. At the same time, I think he does a great job just keeping guys loose when they’re in the huddle.”

 

(on if the way the Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams blitzes frees him up for single coverage or if they keep a safety back to cover him) “There are times when you have single coverage. (Gregg Williams) does a great job of mixing things up. When they do blitz, we’ll have to go out and beat whatever coverage they throw at us. I really don’t worry about if a safety is over the top or wherever. I’ve been seeing that kind of coverage since I’ve been in the League. You just have to find a way to go out and beat it.”

 

(on if the team is using last year as an example or reminder of what not to do this season) “Whatever happened last year is in the past. We all know what happened because we went through it. And that’s pretty much it. All you can do is just use it as a learning lesson for what happened. It was tough last year, what we went through. That’s something we don’t ever want to go through again. We’re gonna do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

 

CB Johnathan Joseph
(on his injury) “I practiced today. It’s fine, should be good to go. I did full practice today, so in that case, it’s positive.”

 

(on if health is the key to keep up with the Saints fast paced offense) “Yes, but this is the NFL. We’ve all been conditioning since we came to training camp, so we should be conditioned for that matter to keep up with the up-tempo of the offense, so in that case, yeah.”

 

(on QB Drew Brees) “He knows everything that’s going on, on the field and he can get guys into the right spots to beat you. He can adjust on the run, make all the hot throws. He can do everything you need in a quarterback, so for him, you have to be on your A game and we look forward to it Sunday.”

 

(on if they’re focused on the Saints running the football) “For us, we just do what we do. Whatever the game situation arises when the game comes, we have to play whatever play they may call. For us, we just want to do what we do well and let everything else take care of itself.”

 

QB Matt Schaub
(on how much can be gleaned from the preseason game between the Texans and the Saints) “Well, obviously for both sides, you’re not going to show in the preseason, especially the second game when you’re facing each other a month later, everything that you’ve got. I think it helps, personnel-wise. You know who you’re facing across the ball, you know what they like to do in base situations.  We’ve practiced and played against these guys in the preseason, it seems like each year I’ve been here, so we both know each other really well.  There’s no surprises, but there’s always going to be wrinkles and unscouted looks that we’re going to see from their defense, so we just have to be prepared to adjust.”

 

(on watching New Orleans’ first two games to help prepare for Sunday’s game)  “We know what type of team they are.  We know what type of defense they can be.  They’re an active, very physical, aggressive group.  They have a lot of talent over there, as do we, so it’s going to be a great matchup and we’re excited to get going, but we’ve got to be aware of what they can do and what they’re capable of and be able to adjust to what their plan is against us.”

 

(on trying to exploit the Saints defense when they blitz)  “Well, you know, that’s the risk-reward of some of the things defenses like to do with blitzes and things of that nature, so you just have to be able to buy the time to give your guys a chance to get open, and you have to make the plays when they’re there.  You can’t miss opportunities.”

 

(on the difficulty of playing in a domed stadium)  “Well, it’s definitely a hostile environment.  It’s a loud place, one of the louder places in the league, rightfully so with how their team has been over the past years.  They’ve got a lot to cheer about, so we’ve got to be able to handle that environment, handle the noise, and go out and execute.”

 

(on the reason for his good performances on the road over the last few years)  “That’s what we have to do as a group.  We have to keep our situations manageable and not get in third-down-and-long situations, because that’s when their playbook opens up to a lot of the stuff they can do.  So we’ve got to keep things manageable, execute on third down and in the red zone, and we’ll be in good shape.  We have a lot of playmakers, and I have confidence in our guys to go out and make plays, and that’s just my job to get it to them.”

 

(on whether his confidence in his teammates helps him remain calm on the field)  “I guess that’s just the way I’ve always been, but to know that we have the guys that we have at wide receiver, running back, at tight end, the confidence I have in my offensive line to give me the time to wait on my guy to make that play in the secondary, I think that’s where it comes from: knowing that we have the weapons that we do and just keeping things under control.”

 

(on the cohesion of the offensive line over the last couple of years)  “I’ve talked about that each week.  The fact that all those guys have been together now for three years, some four years, they don’t have to talk a whole lot; they know the looks, they know the adjustments that they have to make, and they really play well together.  In our offense, the guy next to you, really, you have to work in concert with him to make things work, whether it’s in the run or the pass.  You have to know where your help is, and they really have a great cohesion about themselves that allows them to operate really well.”

 

(on the importance of the offensive line having an understanding of one another when playing on the road)  “It’s important whether you’re on the road or at home.  It doesn’t matter where we play the games, but especially on the road, it’s important in a hostile environment because you may not hear the guy next to you to make the calls.  You just have to know the adjustments yourself.”

 

(on if it helps him knowing that his offensive line sees the same things that he sees)  “Absolutely.  Everyone on our offense has been together now multiple years, so we all know the looks, we all know the adjustments and what we have to do.  Having been through these battles before, that gives us the confidence to go out there and do it and remain calm in the face of adversity.”

 

(on RB Ben Tate having less experience than the rest of the offense)  “Ben has shown that he can play, and he did it on the road last week.  From his background, we know he can do it, playing in the SEC and in tough places you have to play in.  He’s shown that he can do it and we have confidence that he will; and it’s our job to help get him ready for that, and he’ll be fine.”

 

(on whether there is any benefit from having beaten the Saints during the preseason)  “Well obviously, neither one of us showed our whole hand when we played each other.  Going back to what we did against them and vice-versa.  It’s more about personnel and what they can do as players and watching their movements and how they react to things, but we know what they’re capable of because we’ve practiced against them now for a few years in the preseason and played against them, so we know some of the things that they’re capable of as well as they know us.  It’s almost like a divisional game from that standpoint.”

 

(on fixing the problems with pass protection on the edge last week at Miami)  “Well, I think a lot of it is the defense that Miami runs is a little different.  They have a lot of multiple fronts because they’re a base 3-4 team and then they go to four down [linemen] and they just have people moving all over, so it’s a little bit different, but we’ll be in good shape as far as our plan and our protections.”

 

(on whether he’s confident in RB Ben Tate’s ability to pick up blitzes)  “Yes.  Yeah, I am, definitely.  We spent a lot of time this offseason, ourselves, going through things and understanding the different protections and rules and responsibilities, so I have complete confidence that he knows what he’s doing.”

 

(on settling for field goals in the red zone last week at Miami)  “It was definitely frustrating last week because we got away from some of the things, based on what they were doing to us.  They weren’t blitzing, Miami wasn’t, so they were playing coverage and we were trying to run some pass routes that were better versus Man than the coverages that they were running.  We’ve got to be able to pound it in with the run, and that’ll get them into those coverages that we can throw the ball a little bit more effectively.”

 

(on what concerns him most about the New Orleans defense)  “Just understanding the blitz packages that they have, because they can bring a lot of variety and overload you to make it tough on your protections, so you’ve got to understand where your outlets are and where to get rid of the football to.  That’s probably the thing that has gotten a lot of other teams in trouble, the Bears last week for one, so just understanding the potential that they can bring more than you have to block is an issue.”

 

(on his wife giving birth to twins yesterday)  “It was very special.  I was able to be present and be in town here for the birth of my twin girls, number two and number three: Makayla and Mackenzie arrived at 9:17 and 9:18 yesterday morning, so it was great to be there and be a part of that with my wife.”

 

(on if he’s still on an emotional high after the birth of his daughters)  “Yeah, absolutely.  It was a long day yesterday, but definitely a great day, so I’m definitely on a very big emotional high.  I’m just anxious to get back and see them.”

 

(on how his wife and their newborns are doing)  “They’re doing great.  Everything’s going well and they’re healthy, which is great, and Laurie is doing amazing.”

 

(on the twins picking a day when he could be present)  “Exactly.  We were worried, coming down to the wire with an away game last week and an away game this week that it might happen on the weekend, but I was just very excited and very happy to be a part of it.”

 

WR Kevin Walter
(on how he would view his status for this week) “Pretty good, I feel great. I felt good out there today. It was a little sore, but it’s something you’re going to have to play through and I felt good out there today.”

 

(on if he expects to play on Sunday) “Absolutely.”

 

(on if he’s hindered at all by the injury) “Yeah, they’ll probably have to numb it up on Sunday, but it is what it is. I’m going to have a pad on there and protect it and play through it.”

 

(on what it means to get back to playing again) “It’s great. It was killing me last week sitting on the sideline watching those guys operate and getting the win out there. It’s not me. I hate sitting out but I’m glad to be back.”

 

(on if the injury affects his mindset for the game on Sunday) “No, I can’t let that affect it. It’s something I got to go in there and still dig out those safeties and still play my game. I can’t go in there tip-toeing and doing things like that. It is what it is. It’s going to be sore and you just have to play through it.”

 

DE J.J. Watt
(on QB Drew Brees) “He’s a very good passer. Obviously, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game today and he’s a guy who we need to try to get pressure on and try to knock some balls down.”

 

(on all the different things the Saints can do on offense) “Yeah, we need to stop the run, we need to stop the ball and that’s how you win football games. Every team wishes they could do those things, so we just need to execute the game plan Coach Phillips puts in place for us. He’s a very smart coach. We trust what he does and so as long as we do our jobs, we hope to have success.”

 

(on trying to stop the rushing yards up the middle) “We just need to be a little bit more stout, just try not to get pushed off the ball obviously, try and stay in our gaps and play assignment-sound football. Obviously, we’d like to have more success against the run than we did last week.”

 

(on the defense blocking balls since he’s been here) “I don’t if it’s me, if it’s Coach Phillips. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s good for our defense because the batted balls for no gain, we’ll take that as many times as we can.”

 

T Eric Winston
(on his concerns about the Saints) “Well, they show you a lot of fronts, a lot of movement. Communication will be tough there, so just I think everything getting communicated, getting sorted out who we’re going to, how we’re going to get there. I think when you’re playing in a loud environment like that, that’s the kind of stuff that concerns you.”

 

(on if he’s curious how the team will respond now that the competition level is higher) “No, I’m not worried about how we’re going to go out there and play. I know how we’re going to play. I know how we’re going to come in to New Orleans. Like you said, they’re a premier team in the league. They’ve been so for the last three, four years, so we’re going to have to deal with that. Like I said, I think if we want to be up at the top, this is really one of those games that can really turn some heads if we go in there and find a way to win.”

 

(on if they learned from last week’s game) “Sure, you learn from it, you watch the film a couple times, you beat yourself up for a while and then you move on. You get 16 chances in this League. If you’re really good at it, you get a few more in the playoffs. This is going to be a new week, new challenges, new everything.”

 

New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton Conference Call
(on what effect it has that the Texans and Saints played in the preseason) “I don’t know that it makes a lot of difference. I think maybe more from a personnel standpoint on certain techniques. I think we’re all so busy at that time evaluating our own rosters. Now certainly you go back and look at the game. In our case, from a defensive perspective, we’ve got an offense that’s been intact in Houston that we can look at two regular season games, the preseason and then go into last season. Defensively, as we prepare for our offense, we really put a lot of time on just those two games and in the preseason because (Defensive Coordinator) Wade’s (Phillips) new there. I don’t know that it’s that unusual.”

 

(on RB Darren Sproles and how he uses all three of his backs) “Well, that’s a good question. I don’t know if there’s an exact science. Certainly, Darren’s (Sproles) skill set is uniquely different and some of the things we’re doing with him we did with Reggie (Bush). I think the bigger challenge for me and for us as an offensive staff is finding that balance between (Mark) Ingram and Pierre Thomas. But I do think with the nature of our game and the length of the season, having depth at that position is critical. We’ve got another back who’s on PUP, Chris Ivory, who will be ready to go here in four weeks. I think you find you end up using them and I know last year it was a position that got nicked up a lot for us and we ended up signing some players as free agents during the course of the season, so you hope you don’t have to do that.”

 

(on the Texans offense) “It’s a different type of offense. Under Gary (Kubiak), these guys have been one of the top offenses in the NFL, statistically, production, scoring, third down. They do a great job. They, meaning Houston, they do a great job of running the football and setting up their play action pass. They’ve got real good balance. They do a great job of staying out of the third-and-long situations, so when you go back and really study the tape, you find when they’re in third downs, often it’s two to three to four, those manageable down and distances. It’s because of their productivity on first and second down. They’re different in regards to in how they look and what you have to defend, compared to really the last two opponents, Chicago and Green Bay. I think the bigger challenge is the threat of the run, the threat of the big play. You’ve got a receiver, a tight end, running backs and a quarterback along with a consistent offensive line that have been together and that’s a big reason why you’ve had such consistent success there. It’s a big challenge.”

 

(on getting DE Will Smith back) “Any time you’re able to get a player like Will (Smith) back, who’s one of your captains and one of your starters, you hate to lose him to begin with and fortunately it was just two games. He practiced today, he’s in good shape. He had a real good training camp this year and I think it was kind of a shot in the arm for everyone to see him in practice and in meetings.”

 

(on his biggest challenge when he first became Head Coach of the Saints) “Well our biggest challenge was making sure the Superdome was ready to host the first football game. I think it was different in a sense that there was so much chaos in that (Hurricane) Katrina season with the team being displaced in San Antonio and then playing games in Baton Rouge. So when we came, there were some logistical issues with where we wanted to hold training camp and assembling the roster and knowing that we were going to be in a longer training camp and play two road opening games just to make sure the Superdome was ready. But I would say this: I would say there is something to changing and getting the culture just how you want it. I think that certainly with the start of this season, you can see that on film with Houston. That confidence and understanding that it’s hard to do to begin with, what we’re doing is hard, it’s hard to win each week and then to win 10 games, 11 games, 13 games, 16 games. That requires not only a ton of physical effort, but a lot of mental strain. I think that when you watch the tape now, you see that confidence and you see that work ethic and desire by Houston.”

 

(on if coaches have to bring the change in culture out of players) “I think one of the important areas in the early evaluation of a roster when you’re new is to try to not prejudice yourself towards maybe any preconceived thoughts on any of these players. In other words, let’s pay attention to what we see and evaluate what we see and let’s find the right people that we feel like fit what we’re looking to do and not just from a skill set, but from a work ethic and accountability. That’s ongoing. That’s year after year and it’s an area that we feel like is critical to being consistently successful. We use this term: it’s a little bit like your garden if it goes unkempt, it can change in a hurry.”

 

(on if he has to look at past games coached by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to get a complete game plan) “That’s a good question. I think after two regular season games, you get a decent handle on at least what their base is. Certainly, each week we play, we always feel like there’s going to be something different our players know, something we haven’t seen and then we have to make an adjustment on the sideline and talk it through. We’re also able to go back and look at Dallas tape and just get a feel for more than anything else, where the alignments are, what fronts they want to play, what coverages they want to play. Usually when we put a not a scouting report together, but when we put our cut ups together, in other words, it’s usually off of a four-game study, we’ll look at the other games, but we’ll pick four, so in this case we’ll have the two regular season and probably have three of the preseason games.”

 

(on what stands out to him the most about RB Ben Tate) “I think he’s got good balance and vision. We were very familiar with the player when he was coming out. Certainly, you wouldn’t have guessed that he hadn’t played, so he’s been exciting to watch, or follow, if you will. I think he certainly carries his pads well. He’s explosive. He’s got good vision and I think he’s someone that’s very elusive.”

 

(on what he’s doing to ensure they don’t have any issues with turnovers) “I think most teams really emphasize and study the importance of that ratio. It’s every year a good indicator on what wins, what loses and who’s successful and who’s not. The devil in that is in the details of blocking, tackling, of not allowing your quarterback to be hurried and so generally, certain problems can manifest themselves into a bigger number, which is a turnover, an interception, a sack-fumble. It’s making sure we’re paying attention to the technique, understanding the defensive scheme we’re seeing and I think staying out of the third-and-longs. I could come here every week and say well we don’t want to be in third-and-long. With that being said, how are you going to avoid that? Then when you are in third-and-long situations, being smart with your decisions. We talk about it a lot. We spend time in practice on it and we recognize that in 2009, it was our best season from a turnover standpoint and it also corresponded to us having success in the postseason.”

 

New Orleans QB Drew Brees Conference Call
(on if his familiarity with Texans Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips helps him) “I think my familiarity with him just is from a standpoint of I know how good of a coach he is and I know how much his players like him and play for him. I know he’s got a great scheme and he does some good things in the pressure packages. I’d say if anything, it just gives me more respect for him the fact that I know him well from the time he was our defensive coordinator in San Diego.”

 

(on if he’s surprised that the Texans are ranked first in defense) “No, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for him (Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips). I know he’s a great coach and they’re playing very well right now.”

 

(on if it means anything that he’s familiar with the Texans from practicing and playing against them in the past) “Yeah, I think there’s more familiarity just in regards to personnel and that kind of thing because we have practiced against each other the last three years, played against each other in the preseason for the last four years, so I’d say it definitely makes it even more competitive.”

 

(on RB Darren Sproles and how much he’s meant to the Saints) “(Darren) Sproles has been great. I think he adds a new dimension to our back field with a combination of him and Pierre (Thomas) and Mark Ingram. Sproles is so versatile. He can do anything you ask him to do in the run game, in the pass game, protection, pass catching, special teams. He’s just so versatile.”

 

(on how important the fast pace of the offense is to putting pressure on opposing defenses) “That’s how offenses put it to the defense is through tempo and multiple formations and personnel groups and just playing at a fast pace.”

 

(on what jumps out to him the most about the Texans defense) “They just play with a lot of confidence. They believe in their system and they’re playing fast. There are some guys that are obviously playing some different positions than they have in the past just being that it’s a 3-4 defense and they seem to be embracing that role. I’m just seeing them playing with a lot of confidence.”

 

(on what it’s like playing with three backs) “It works because each one of them has a role and yet each one of them can step in and do whatever you ask them to do. Going into every game, each one of them are going to get opportunities, both in the run game and the pass game and you just have to wait for your opportunity and make the most of it.”

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