Gary Kubiak spoke to the Houston media Thursday to discuss the Texans 2007 schedule and other offseason activity. Following are his comments.
(on his initial thoughts about the 2007 schedule) "Well, first off, I really like our preseason schedule. Having our third preseason game at home, and of course I know it's Dallas and that has an added importance, but having our third preseason game at home helps us to go through our routine, schedule-wise. Probably like most teams in the National Football League, we treat the third preseason game kind of like a regular season game, so it helps us from the standpoint of preparing for the season to get going. So I'm excited about that, and it also gives us a chance to play a 3-4 team, which will be important.
"As far as our schedule, when you look at them, they all look tough. You've got the world champs in your division and you get to play them twice, and Jacksonville and Tennessee, so you start there which makes it difficult. Picking up the AFC West this year, we've got the team with the best record in football last year in San Diego. Denver's a perennial playoff team; Kansas City, opening with them, a playoff football team that arguably has one of the best backs in the game, so that's a tremendous challenge for us, but we're excited about that. Going to Carolina Week 2, a team that a lot of people last year picked to win it all; they're very talented, ran into some injuries so they will bounce back. They'll have a great football team this year, so that's a big-time challenge. And then Week 3 we go to Indy—no, Indy comes here.
"All the schedules look very tough and you never know how they're going to play out throughout a season, but the thing that stood out to me was the stretch where we play four out of five on the road there somewhere in the middle of the season. But we do end up with three out of four at home. You've got to be playing good football regardless of how they happen or when they happen. We're excited about it and we'll start preparing for Kansas City today."
(on facing his old team when Denver visits Houston) "You know, I'm sure that'll be a big deal, but I'm excited for the city to have a prime time game like that. The next step is to hopefully get a Monday night game here somewhere down the road and play good enough to have those types of football games. But with the NFL flex schedule now, you want your football team in position to play in those types of big prime time games, and that'll be an opportunity for us next season, but we've got a long way to go before we get there."
(on the position of the bye week in the schedule) "I've had them in the middle of the season before and I kind of like it. It's the half-way point. A lot of times bye weeks depend on, injury-wise, how things are going for your football team, so we'll see. But it is a little bit past the halfway mark—what is it, Week 9 for us? I think that's the last bye week of the season for most teams, so we'll wait and see how that plays out."
(on opening the season at home) "That's exciting. Of course, doing it last year, we've got to do it better this year, but it's exciting to open at home. There's a lot of exciting things going on around here with some of the changes and those types of things. We're going to be playing a heck of a football team, so I'm sure it'll be an exciting day."
(on the new NFL player conduct policy) "Everybody's got to deal with their issues with their football teams, and I'm no different. But as far as the league policy, I think they've stood up and made a stand against some of the things that are happening or have taken place. It sends a message to everybody, to our football team and to every team around the National Football League, that you're going to have to conduct yourself in a certain way if you want to be a part of what we're doing, and that's only fair."
(on if he thinks about which star players his team faces when he looks at the teams on the schedule) "I'd be crazy if I sit here and said no. Yeah, we look at that. You can see where the added importance or the added hype, I would say, would come from each of those games, and I think that's good. That's why we do this; that's why we play; that's why we coach: to play in big games and for them to have some added meaning. That'll be special. Like going back to Atlanta with (QB) Matt (Schaub), I'm sure that'll be special for him, but the bottom line is you've got to be good 16 times, so we've got to get ready for the first one."
(on how he feels about the team's efforts in free agency thus far) "Well, you feel good about it today. We haven't gone back to work yet and started practicing, but we've added players with playoff experience and success in this league. That's extremely important. To go out and get Matt, it changes the direction of what we're doing, and there's a lot of excitement throughout our offseason and our football team. But we've still got to get to the football part, and that'll come here in the middle of May."
(on if the team is done with free agency) "No, we'll continue to bring in a few kids. We had in (OL) Cooper Carlisle, which y'all know. We had him in last night and today. We're bringing in Andre' Davis, a wide receiver, this evening. So there are still some guys that we're going to continue to look at as we prepare for the draft because it does have a bearing on what you do on draft day, but there's still some activity out there and we're still a part of it."
(on how much stronger the team is now compared to the end of last season) "It'd be easy for me to say we're stronger, I mean, we've added some good football players on our team and some quality kids, but we find out when we go to play. So on paper it sure looks good right now, but we've got a lot of work to do to get better, and that's what we've got to be willing to do."
(on if he's surprised to play Denver in prime time) "I don't know; I don't have any control over that and what's going on. You know, actually, I thought that we may open with them. Somebody had told me we might open with them, so I was a little surprised that that didn't happen. I don't know where that was coming from. Like I said, that'll be an exciting football game, but that's what, Week 13 or 14? That's a long, long ways from now and there's a lot of football to be played between now and then."
(on if he's looked to see where the Texans play when Colorado State—his son's team—visits Houston) "Y'all are way ahead of me on that one. Even if they come I'm sure, if we're at home, I'll be in meetings that night, so I'll have to watch the film like I always do."
(on the difference in his approach to the draft this year compared to last year) "Well, the work is the same; the approach is a little bit different from how we're conducting the meetings. And that's just a preference in how (Texans GM) Rick (Smith) has done them and I've done them in the past compared to how (former Texans GM) Charley (Casserly) had done them. There's all kinds of ways to prepare for the draft; the key is that you have a good one regardless of how you do it. We're almost halfway. We did the offense last week, and we're doing the defense this week. What we do next week is the scouts will leave and we as coaches will start to blend it all together. Then the final week, Rick and I and (Texans director of college scouting) Dale (Strahm) will deal with it. So we're about halfway through, but the meetings have gone really well."
(on if the scouts will return for the draft) "They come back. They leave for one week. They take a break and leave next week and, like I said, we as coaches deal with everything that's been put in place and start to go back and kind of re-check some of these kids. Then they come back and we finish it up the following week."
(on bringing in draft prospects for visits) "I'm not real big on that. I feel like if we've done our homework on the kids, we ought to know all that we need to know. There are some situations where we may bring in one or two to answer a question or two that we don't have answered, but I feel like if our scouts have done their work and we as coaches have done our work, then we should be able to get ready to go without adding another visit."
(on the home schedule) "Well, three of them never change, and then getting Kansas City here, of course that's exciting because it's opening day. And if you have to go there, that's one of the toughest places to play in the National Football League. I think we have a good home schedule. It should be exciting for our fans, and having that Thursday night game late in the year, that prime time game, should be extra exciting."