Head coach Gary Kubiak and quarterback Matt Schaub huddled with the Nashville media on Thursday, and discussed the upcoming contest against the Titans.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and quarterback Matt Schaub spoke to the Nashville media via conference call on Thursday to discuss his team's upcoming game against the Titans. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on if it is a fair assessment that the last game and the upcoming game versus the Titans are the biggest in franchise history) "I don't know about that. I think it's positive that we're here in the back half of the season and talking about playing in some big games. That obviously hasn't been the case around here in the early stages of this franchise. We've got a long, long way to go and we've got seven football games left. So much changes in this league week-to-week. We know each one is a very pivotal game for our football team. That's what you what to be in. Heck, that's why you're part of this business."
(on trying to stay at the head of the AFC South division race) "I don't get too caught up in that stuff. We've got to worry about how we play and what product we put on the field this week, regardless of who we're playing, when we're playing, Sunday, Monday, hell it doesn't matter. We've got to stay focused on our football. We've played better the last month. We came back against Indianapolis and got sloppy with the football, turned it over, played very poorly early in the football game. We're coming off a bye, our focus right now is to really just try to get our football cleaned up. Because if we don't play as good as we can play, it may be difficult for us to find a way to beat you all's team. They're a hell of a football team. So, we're trying to stay focused on ourselves."
(on Texans LB Brian Cushing) "Obviously, this kid's way ahead mentally. He played in big games. He's a very smart football player coming from USC, there's not a stadium or a big game or anything the kid hasn't seen. That was a big positive for us and obviously we needed an impact player right away. We didn't waste any time. We took him and put him in there from the get go. It was very difficult, he missed almost the entire training camp to be honest with you. That made it very, very difficult going into the season, but we knew for us to get where we wanted to go, we needed to go with him from day one. We knew he'd go through some growing pains, but he's responding and he's gotten better every week. He's made our football team better. He's got a bright future ahead of him."
(on Dallas Clark having success against Brian Cushing) "Well, Dallas Clark has had a lot of success against a lot of people. When you play Indianapolis, they're going to move the football. They're very talented across the board and tremendous at quarterback. So, obviously that was Brian's first outing against that team and that player, but that's part of this league. You're going to face good players and sometimes they're going to make some plays on you. Key is that you keep battling and hopefully before the day's over you make a couple more than they did. That was a nice awakening for him to go against that group. That was his first time out against them."
(on the run defense improving for the Texans) "Well, hell guys, it had to get better. It was as bad as it could possibly be after three weeks this year. It had no way to go but up. How did it improve? I think we're tackling better. Bernard Pollard coming to our football team has been a nice acquisition. I just think we've settled down on the back end and we've tackled better back there, not giving up the big plays that we gave up early in the season. But against Chris (Johnson), hell, this kid's amazing. What type of year he's having and the pace he's on, you don't see that very often in this league. He's tremendous and it's, of course, the biggest challenge we've had all year long. Obviously what he did to us there and here we get it again. We understand how big the challenge is."
(on how to prepare for Chris Johnson) "I think he's a unique guy. He runs outside. He's very physical. That run he had on the goal line last week where he got stuck by two guys and bounced off and walked in the end zone. I mean, he is just so impressive. He does it all. I think for us really, the key is how can we contain him and hopefully we don't give up the big play, make sure we tackle well, be gap sound in what we're doing. He's going to make plays. He's a great player. In this league you play great people and understand that they're going to make plays, but hopefully you can find a way to contain them over a period of three and a half hours. Try to keep them in check."
(on Steve Slaton maybe having a sophomore slump) "I think that's part of the NFL. Like you said, the job that Chris (Johnson) is doing, he's taken another step forward. Of course, Steve had a lot of success as a rookie last year, has struggled this year, not as much success. He's put the ball on the ground some. I think players go through that in this league. This is the toughest league there is and the best players in the world. There's nothing easy and whether you play 10 or 12 years and you're a good player, has a lot to do with how you work through tough times. One thing about Steve, he has struggled, but it has not changed his work habits or who he is. He's worked extremely hard. He studies extremely hard. For us to play good football we're going to need Steve to step up and play well. So, we're trying to help him all we can. He's an important piece to our puzzle."
(on if the plan at running back is game-to-game) "We've been playing them all. Obviously, Ryan (Moats) played well for us a couple weeks ago. When Chris's (Brown) legs are fresh, he's done some good things for us and he's as fresh as he's been now. Get him a good break over the course of the last two weeks. We're going to play them all. There's nothing set in stone. Obviously, if one of them is playing better than the other, he's probably going to stay on the field."
(on stripping the ball) "We're much better on the defensive side of the ball. I think we're plus-one as a football team. Defensively we've done our part, offensively we haven't. We've gotten sloppy with the ball, especially the last three weeks. I think we were doing pretty well up until that point and started turning it over. When we're not doing things well it usually starts with that. That's a big challenge for us to try to find a way to protect it and you don't have to look any further than you guys. Over the course of the last three weeks, I think you all have had one turnover and you win three games in a row. Those things usually go hand-in-hand in this business."
(on taking away the big plays) "I think anybody, regardless of if it's us or any team in this league, if you're poor in a category there's usually a reason. Obviously, if you give up big plays in the run game you're going to suffer. Not only from a point standpoint, but people staying on the field on you and making big plays. Like I said, I think we've tackled better in the last month and hopefully we can continue to do that. The threat of the big play of you guys is very much of a concern for us."
(on Rod Hood) "I think they've done a great job. Obviously, lost some players back there, had some guys nicked up and have weathered the storm. Jeff and them have always done a great job with the secondary and the defense, very aggressive and they're getting a lot of turnovers here, especially over the course of the last three weeks. So, always been impressed with their defense and the style they play. Regardless of who's on that field for Jeff's defense, they're going to be a very physical group and this one's no different."
(on the impact of injuries on a football team) "I think they play a huge part. A lot of times as I go back to my years in this league, you look at some of the years you've had and obviously you have good teams, but you have a lot of luck along the way too. The way guys have stayed healthy and the way things work out for you for a particular season and all of the sudden you can turnaround the next year and have to battle adversity week in and week out. In a lot of ways that's part of this league. As a coach you've got to understand that you're going to lose players, you're going to have problems. How your teams learn to fight through those things and don't look for excuses just keep going and plug somebody else in, usually ends up being the makeup of a good organization in the long haul."
(on the option offense) "Obviously that presents some new problems for us. They've been very effective doing it. You're talking about two big time runners right there and being able to hurt you in a lot of ways. You don't see a lot of it in the National Football League, but Dinger's (Mike Heimerdinger) always going to find a way to move the ball. Obviously, he's done a great job of getting Vince (Young) involved in the option. It's just another problem for us to worry about."
(on Vince Young's run threat) "Vince's run threat adds a new dimension to their football team. Him getting out of the pocket, running an option, running a boot, anything he does, his ability to make big plays running the football adds a big time dimension that you have to worry about defensively. They've been exceptional at what they've been doing and like you said, and protecting the ball extremely well along the way."
(on if the option only works with a fast running back like Chris Johnson who can get around the corner) "I don't know. I'm not the expert on the option, I don't know."
Quarterback Matt Schaub(on how much better the Titans secondary is playing now compared to week two) "They're an experienced group. They're playing extremely well and they're veteran back there. So, they're extremely talented so it's going to be a tough test for us."
(on if the team is learning to adjust without Owen Daniels) "Well, yeah, we've got guys that can fill in and pick up the catches and what he did. He's irreplaceable with the talent he has, but we're doing it by committee and we've got a bunch of guys that step up and fill that role. We've got a ton of confidence in each one of them to make those plays in his place."
(on if the Titans are blitzing more) "Yeah, I think they might be doing a little bit of that. I think they're bringing a few more people and being a little bit more aggressive. They're a talented group and they have a great front seven. They're very talented."
(on if the three-step drop is the best way to attack an aggressive defense) "I think it's a way to get the ball out and get it to your playmakers hands in a hurry and let them do something with it. Combat the pass rush and things of that nature and also compliment the running game. If a team's struggling to run the ball a little bit, you get the ball and get it out and that kind of supplements the run game a little bit. I think it keeps things off balance instead of standing back seven, eight yards deep in the pocket trying to find things down field."
(on Cortland Finnegan playing left corner the last couple of weeks) "He's still the same guy and he's still playing at a high level. He's aggressive and a physical corner. He reads things really well. There's not much of a change, just a different vantage point from the other side of the field."
(on what a good yards per pass attempt means to a quarterback) "I think as an offense it means guys are making plays down the field and they're getting open. Obviously, the offensive line is doing a heck of a job and the backs in protection, and allowing us to get down field and make some plays. It ties 11 guys together that are executing their job at a high level and guys are making plays."
(on you can't have a good number in yards per pass attempt and not be moving the ball) "I would think generally not, especially if you're passing the ball quite a bit you're going to be moving the football and in turn hopefully scoring points too."
(on what percentage of interceptions come as a result of preparation or luck) "That would be hard to put a percentage on that. I think the majority of them of probably good defensive preparation and reading things. I think there are a good portion that are, whether it be a miscue offensively or just bad luck whether it be tipped or things like that."
(on how the defensive improvement has helped the offense) "I think it has been great. Our defense has been playing extremely well for a number are games now. They continue to get better. They're playing sound football, creating turnovers, getting off the field on third down. It's really helped us out a lot if we're slow to go in the first couple of series they're going to keep us in the game until we get going. They've been playing extremely well."
(on if it is fair that people say this is the biggest game in franchise history) "I think so. I think with each game they become bigger and bigger. That's what we wanted to do, is set ourselves up as a team to be in here in the later half of the season to be playing games that mean a tremendous amount. We put ourselves in that position and we are enjoying it. It's about getting ready to play and going out and playing good football on Monday night."
(on winning the last two games versus the Titans and making the rivalry a little bigger) "Yeah, I think that helps. When teams go back and forth I think that helps the rivalry a little bit. I think it makes everything more interesting especially within the division because you know the team extremely well and the faces stay the same for a few years. You get to know how each other plays and then it's just about going out and executing your plan."
(on if anyone has made more from the scuffle on the sideline in the first game) "No, it was just a couple of fines. It's just in the heat of competition and the battle. Things like that can occur. Obviously, it's unfortunate how things went down with everything, but it's a hard fought game and things like that sometimes happen."
(on Rod Hood) "I think he's a good football player, gets himself in position. He knows how to play coverages and read routes and he's always around the football. I think he's a very sound football player."
(on losing some offensive linemen to injury) "I think they've gelled together rather well. We've got a good rotation at right guard and Kasey Studdard filling in at left since the game there in Tennessee in week two. He played all of training camp when Chester Pitts was out. So, we had a good feel for what he would do when he got an opportunity to go in the game. They've gelled together really nicely and have been playing very well."
(on how the team recovered from the Indianapolis game) "We were due for a bye and a little time off. We've been going since the end of July at the beginning of training camp, so it was good to get a little bit of a break. Obviously, after the way the Indy game went it would have been nice to get back on the field right away. It's kind of take your pick. We're excited for this week and ready to get going."