Quarterback Matt Schaub heads to Indianapolis, hoping to hand the Colts their first loss of 2009.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and quarterback Matt Schaub spoke to the Indianpolis media via conference call on Wednesday. Here is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak(on his team's 5-3 start) "We've battled back from a very tough start as a team and had some issues along the way, and obviously have a new one we have to work through here in losing a very good player (TE-Owen Daniels) this week. (We're) just battling away. Obviously, we have a big, big test on our hands coming this week. (We're) trying to continue to push forward."
(on QB-Matt Schaub) "I just think its snaps. I think Matt is somewhere around the low 30s as a starter in this league, as far as number of starts. Obviously, the more games you play, the more stadiums you go to, the more defenses you see, you're going to have that progress. You're going to get better. I just think that's what has happened to him. He's much more comfortable in what we're doing and what he's doing. He's made some progress, and we've played better around him. We've had some issues around him up front and now with the tight end, but he's kept his poise and kept everybody heading in the right direction."
(on QB-Matt Schaub adjusting to not having TE-Owen Daniels) "We have a lot of faith in the young man that's fixing to play in TE-Joel Dreessen. I think the key anytime any team loses a player of that magnitude and has that much production, you're never going to replace his production with one player. I think the key is we have to spread it out amongst the group and everybody has to pick up the slack. That's our approach. Hopefully, we can find it in some other places. We're going to miss Owen, not only a (heck) of a player, but a great kid and a leader on this team. I just feel bad what happened to him and unfortunate for him."
(on QB-Matt Schaub's leadership) "I think he's on his way to being one of those type players. That happens over a long period of time. I want to say Matt has been in the league maybe five years. (He's) very young from a standpoint of how much football a guy like John Elway or Peyton (Manning) had played up to this point. Matt hasn't played a lot, and he's missed some time with injuries. In this league if you have a great quarterback you have a chance to win, week-in and week-out. Those guys are the difference makers. We just feel very fortunate that he's making progress as a player, and hopefully, we can keep him in one piece and keep him here for a long time."
(on similarities between the Colts and Texans offenses) "I don't know. I know us personally, we're still trying to find some balance. We have not run the ball well this year, of course, last week was the best we've run it all year. We're still trying to be a balanced football team. I think that's what gives us the best chance to be successful, week-in and week-out. Obviously, we've thrown the ball well and probably thrown it more than we have in the past, but I really think the key for us in the long haul is still finding some identity running the football and finding some balance in what we do."
(on the drawback to being reliant on your passing game) "Obviously, you have the possibility of the sacks and the quarterback getting beat up and those type of things. I look at it from a time of possession (view). We go out there and start throwing the ball 50 times a game, we're not going to be on the field much, our defense is going to be out there way too long and just the overall effectiveness of our team, to me, goes down. It's been proven since I've been here. I think that's the most important thing. You're being fair to your defense to, trying to keep them off the field. Last week, we ran the ball well. We stayed on the field for 39 minutes. It sure helped them play a complete game. I just think it goes with your football team and what you think gives you the best chance to be successful."
(on his team's approach to the Colts game) "They're a great football team, one of the two undefeated left. We all know that. We've had some great football games with them in the past. They tend to be the ones making the plays at the end, and they get the victory. We have a big, big challenge. Obviously, if you're going to win this division, you have to find a way to be competitive with this great Colts team. It's a big challenge for us. It adds to it, coming in there makes it even tougher. We know it's going to take a special effort from everybody we've got. We just need to have a good week of preparation and come down there and play as hard as we can play and as smart as we can play and see what we can get done. We understand the challenge. We understand how good a football team they are."
(on QB-Peyton Manning) "It's the same guy I've always seen. Unfortunately, or I guess fortunately, I got to see him a lot in my days at Denver and now in Houston. I just marvel at what he does week-in and week-out. I've got so much respect for him, obviously, as a player, but also as a person and what he's done for this league and the job he's done for (his) franchise. I guess unfortunately as a visiting coach, he's special to watch. He's a great player."
(on QB-Peyton Manning's game management) "The way he gets 11 guys all heading in the same direction in such a short period of time, and protection, routes, everything. It's just amazing to watch. I mean, he has total command of the game, of defenses, of this league, of personnel. (He's) as accurate a thrower as you'll ever see. Guys, we'll be watching football a long time and you're not going to see one that plays the game the way he's played it at a high level for a long period of time."
(on Houston's defense) "We were really poor the first three weeks of the season. We played very poorly. We started the season with a few guys that really didn't go through training camp, but we thought it was the best thing to do for the long haul for our team, and I'm talking about DB-Dunta (Robinson and (LB-Brian) Cushing. I think we've just got some snaps under our belt. We've been healthy on defense, unlike offense, we've been healthier. I just think they're growing up together. Obviously, we've played better the last month, but they won't get any bigger tests than the one they have this week."
(on having a lot of high draft picks on the defensive side of the ball) "We're trying to find some identity on that side of the ball, and have invested a great deal in some young players. That's fine. You can draft all the guys you want and look at a program and have all the first-rounders you want to have, but the bottom line, if you can't get them together and play well, it doesn't matter. I just think what started to happen for us on that side of the ball is these guys have finally played a lot of football together and have been on the field together a great deal. Like I said, this year we've been fortunate from a injury standpoint. We've added some good, young players. CB-Glover Quin, the young man is playing good football for us. (LB-Brian) Cushing, you can see what he's doing for us. We went and got DE-Antonio Smith, he's balanced us up a little bit upfront. (SS-Bernard) Pollard, we picked up a month ago has been a big, big surprise. Usually, when you're playing better there are some guys leading the way, and we've been fortunate with some of these young guys."
(on having a lot of Purdue guys on his team) "Well, our GM (Rick Smith) is from Purdue. We get good reports on those guys."
(on DT-Jeff Zgonina) "It's amazing. We went into camp and made some decisions inside to kind of change our football team a little bit with some younger players. (We) got in trouble in camp and basically were on the search. I told (General Manager) Rick (Smith), 'Let's go get Jeff back.' I remember Rick saying to me, 'If we bring him back he's going to make this team even though he's 40 years old.' I said, 'That's fine with me.' He's played well. He's been very consistent. He played for (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Bill) Kollar before, previously in St. Louis. He's really helped Bill. Bill came in and took over the group, and Jeff's really helped with all these young players. We're lucky to have him. He's one of those guys that just defies time. He's still in great shape and capable of playing a lot of plays."
(on SS-Bernard Pollard's influence on the defense) "We got lucky there. A couple of things, he's played a lot of football. He was a starter in Kansas City, and they went in a different direction. Our secondary coach, David Gibbs, is from the Chiefs and had spent some time with him in Kansas City. That transition was a little easier for us. We brought him in and David was able to get him ready to play fast. I think we got kind of lucky from that standpoint. He's been very consistent for us and even playing some special teams for us."
Quarterback Matt Schaub(on how he would assess his play so far this season) "I think I've done alright. I think that we have a bunch of guys that are playing very well up to this point in the season. I think we're all just trying to do our job, and I'm just trying to distribute the football to the open guy, manage the game and move the ball. We have a ton of guys making plays, so it's just my job to get it to them."
(on if it has clicked for him this year) "Going into year three here in this system with my teammates and the coaches and what we're doing, this is the year where it's talked about that you make the most strides, and that is with any position. I feel like I'm going through that. I understand my role in our offense and what we're trying to get done. I understand my teammates and what we have offensively and the skills and what each player brings to the table, so that we can play to those strengths and give ourselves the advantage from that point. I just feel like I'm much more comfortable this year with what we're doing."
(on not having TE-Owen Daniels) "He was a great security blanket. He creates a lot of mismatches for us. He's very dependable and reliable in his ability to run routes and catch the ball. At the same time, as unfortunate as it is for him to get injured and be out, we have confidence in the other guys to step in and play well. Joel Dreessen will do that. He's been here, he's a veteran, a smart guy, and very reliable in the same respects. But it's not one guy trying to fill one guy's shoes. We're going to have to have a whole bunch of guys fill in and catch those balls and make those plays that Owen would be making."
(on if he'll go to WR-Andre Johnson more) "He's obviously a big part of what we do. In my opinion, he is one of the best receivers in the league. He's my go-to-guy, obviously. We want to get him the football, because he's a playmaker and can do a lot of things with it in his hands. We've got other guys that can make plays, too. It's just a matter of going to the open guy. He's obviously where things start."
(on if beating the Colts would mean a lot) "It would definitely mean a lot. It's 1/16th of the season and it's one game, but at the same time, it's a divisional game, so that puts a little extra emphasis on it, and being on the road and in that environment, a tough place to play. At this juncture in the season, just getting into the second half of the season, it's a big game for us and a chance to close the gap between us and Indianapolis in the division. It is a big game. There is a little extra behind it, but that's what you hope for as a player, is to put yourself in a position to play in meaningful games in the second half of the season."
(on Houston being mentioned as one of the better teams in the league) "It is exciting, and that's what we've talked about as a team all offseason and through training camp. Once the season gets here, that's always in the back of your mind and your goal, but at the same time, once the real live bullets start flying, you take them one at a time and you try and put your blinders on and just put together wins and pile up wins. Once you get to December, you look up and you take a look to see where you're at and if you have yourself in position to make a push. That's what we're trying to do. It's an exciting time for our team and our city. We understand that, but at the same time, move on and concentrate on what it takes to win the football game."
(on if he is still flying under the radar) "I don't know. That's not really for me to decide or understand. I'm still trying to come into my own. As long as people are starting to realize who the Houston Texans are and what we bring to the table and how hard we play and that we're doing good things, that's the most important thing. I'm not worried about how people view me. I'm just trying to help my team win. Hopefully, down the road that will come to be noticed. It's what we're doing down here as a group."