Texans head coach Gary Kubiak met with the media on Monday at Reliant Stadium, and recapped the win over the Chiefs, what the loss of linebacker DeMeco Ryans means, and much more. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on who will be replacing DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker) "Well, it's going to be a process right now. Obviously, (LB) DeMeco (Ryans) is gone. We know that. If we had to go and play today, (LB) Zac (Diles) will be the first to play at Mike (middle linebacker), but we won't play for two weeks, so the only thing that I'm concerned about is the other three guys and what their availability is. I'm concerned about (LB) Kevin (Bentley). I'm concerned about (LB Darryl) Sharpton. I'm concerned about (LB Xavier) Adibi. If all those guys were healthy and ready to go play football, then moving, mixing and matching would be very easy. The problem is that those guys are not ready to go. We're exploring every avenue we can today. (General Manager) Rick (Smith) and I are talking and looking at everything that we can possibly do to help our football team because there are more issues than just DeMeco being out. Obviously, that's a huge issue but there is some more. It's an ongoing process."
(on LB Kevin Bentley being an option at starting at middle linebacker) "(LB) Kevin (Bentley) is an option. (LB Darryl) Sharpton is an option; he's worked at Mike (middle linebacker). So those are the options, but the problem with some of those guys we're talking about is they're not on the field either. That's my concern right now."
(on if executing a trade is an option for finding a replacement for LB DeMeco Ryans) "It's part of the conversation. I think we have to look at everything. We have to look at any possible availability we think that can help make us better and help our football team throughout the next 10 weeks. The deadline is tomorrow, but we've got to look at everything so it's an ongoing process today."
(on if he is open to trade draft picks to find a replacement of LB DeMeco Ryans) "I can't speak for (GM) Rick (Smith) on that. I know both of us together will do anything to make our football team better. We're in a tough situation right now in losing a captain and a great football player. We've got to explore everything, but what's going to end up being best for our team? I don't know. My biggest concern to this is the health of the other guys also. Not just (LB) DeMeco (Ryans) being out."
(on if he will have tryouts this week) "We're going to work some guys out. I have no list for you right now, but yes we will definitely bring in some guys. (GM) Rick (Smith) and his staff have been working on it last night and all morning. We're compiling every possible avenue that we can to see if we can find somebody to help us."
(on how long will it take for the defensive secondary to improve) "We need to get better across the board on the defensive side of the ball, to answer that question. There were some people that did some good things. (DT) Shaun Cody has been playing excellent for us. (S) Eugene Wilson played well yesterday. So there were some good things that went on. We just got to get better as a group. Right now what we got to do is to evaluate ourselves over the course of the next few days and try to see what positives that we are doing and build off of those. When you're having mistakes, that usually brings you back to simplifying. That's something we're checking ourselves from a coaching standpoint right now and see what kind of changes that can possibly be made that can make us better. Along those lines, we got to figure out a way to get those guys healthy. It's a combination of things trying to get better."
(on the goal line touchdown reception by Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel) "We just busted coverage. It wasn't one guy, it was a couple of guys."
(on if the remaining active linebackers on the roster were healthy, would LB Kevin Bentley would be at middle linebacker) "He (LB Kevin Bentley) or (LB Darryl) Sharpton would be that option if something's wrong with (LB) Zac (Diles).
(on if he would trust LB Darryl Sharpton starting at middle linebacker) "He's a young guy, but he's a pretty sharp kid. He's been fine."
(on what kind of surgery LB Kevin Bentley has on his knee) "He just had his knee scoped."
(on T Rashad Butler's play and what he expects from T Duane Brown) "Well, I think (T Rashad) Butler, got a chance, he played for a month, played against two very excellent pass-rushing teams. He helped himself as a pro. He went in there and I think he did a good job; he can always do better. Our football team is still able to function offensively and we didn't have to game plan everything to go help him on a regular basis, so I'm proud of the job he did. He took a step forward as a pro and helped himself in his career. But it is good to have (T) Duane (Brown) back. He was back in meetings today and he will go back to his spot as we work out tomorrow. So, it's good to have him back."
(on the Texans run defense needing improvement) "We knew this would be the best team that we would face that could run the ball. We knew that going into the game. I mean, that's what they do. They present some formation problems for you and stuff. Like I said, in the second half, we were in total disarray from the standpoint of trying to; with our maneuvering of at linebacker and going against their jumbo packages, those three-tights, two-tights. They were very smart in what they were doing. They knew our problem. So we got it handed to us from that standpoint.
"How do we get better? I know you're tired of our answer. We've got to get better across the board. It's not one thing."
(on if he is still happy with the players he has in the secondary) "I think we're continuing to improve outside. I thought we did some things outside with (CB) Kareem (Jackson) and (CB Glover Quin) Q yesterday that were definitely a step in the right direction. We're going with those guys. Are we complete? We're not even close to complete but that's the group we're going with. You're not going to see us go chasing some veteran guy out there any time soon. We gotta go with the guys we got and we got to continue to improve."
(on the importance of RB Derrick Ward the last three weeks and if Ward reminds him of anyone from his days coaching in Denver) "No. I don't know who he would remind me of. But he's a nice addition to our team; very tough, very tough to tackle. The thing that's been interesting has been his explosiveness, his big plays. I told him in front of the team today, 'If you carry the ball three times and gain 58 yards, you ought to touch it a few more times.' So, I've been very impressed with what he's done. He's handled his pass protection good. We need to play him more with (RB) Arian (Foster) to keep Arian fresh. He's been a very, very nice addition to our team."
(on the thought that LB Brian Cushing didn't look as impactful against the Chiefs as he did against the Giants) "Well, I thought he played hard. I don't think we played well at the linebacker position as a group in the game. We didn't play well in the first half and then we lost (LB) DeMeco (Ryans). We end up with (LB) Zac (Diles) trying to run the defense and new face trying to go on the field, who hasn't been with us long. So we just kind of got in disarray. I'm sure (LB Brian Cushing) Cush became part of what was going on as far as not having his buddy out there, his captain out there with him on a play."
(on his time management at the end of the game against the Chiefs) "I would like to take credit for that time management but we were just trying to score. Obviously, once you're down there inside the 15-yard line, inside the 10-yard line, you're down to downs, so the clock; it was easy for us to bleed it there to go ahead and run the ball knowing that we were basically going to get our three downs and score or we were gonna tie the game and go into overtime. Not giving them the football back was definitely a concern once we got down there. So it worked out. We only gave them three or four snaps at the end of the game."
(on his team's slow starts in the first half of games this season) "When you get down like we did to the Giants, that's the game that got it really out of whack for us as a football team, and of course, (the) Washington (game) wasn't much better. We were able to overcome that. We need to start faster. When we start fast, we usually play pretty good, like we did at Oakland. We started pretty fast against Indianapolis. It is a point of emphasis. We've got to do a better job from that standpoint. We've come out of the locker room better in the second half this year, I think. But yesterday, some penalties hurt us. Offensively, we came out and made a big play and then went right back and had a first-and-20. So, we'll continue to try and improve."
(on if QB Matt Schaub throws the ball better when he's in pressure situations) "I think he gets in a rhythm. The thing yesterday that allowed him to do what he did, was that we protected him pretty darn good. They knew we were pretty much in a throw mode even though we did still mix some runs in there. But we protected (QB) Matt (Schaub) pretty darn good. They came at after us down there in the red zone at the end of the game a couple times and he threw the ball away. I think he had eight incompletions, and of the eight, I think five times he just threw the ball away. So that tells you how accurate he played yesterday."
(on his contingency plan if one of his three linebackers went down with an injury in the second half of the game against the Chiefs) "Play nickel. Go with two linebackers. That's about the only plan we could have. I couldn't go out there. Play with two of 'em."
(on K Neil Rackers making three tackles on special teams against the Chiefs) "He was our special teams player of the game. He was the special teams player of the game because he had three big tackles. He's willing to do that. Did you all notice that when we had 10 guys on the field on the first punt; we were missing our gunner because (CB) Karl (Paymah) was out of the game and thought he was back in the game. Did you see who was fixing to go on the field? (K Neil) Rackers wanted to go cover that punt."
(on if it amazes him that K Neil Rackers is so involved in special teams coverage) "No. It's just kind of the way he is. He says it helps him play, helps him get going. I don't like some of it because I worry about him. I liked it yesterday. He made three nice tackles."
(on K Neil Rackers replacement if he gets hurt) "That's a good question. It would probably be (QB) Matt (Schaub). I've seen (TE) Owen (Daniels) kick the ball before. The last guy that tried to work has a backup kicker here; it wasn't good."
(on if CB Sherrick McManis is okay) "He should be back the following week."
(on getting his team healthy during the bye week) "I'm going to use this whole week to try and get this team healthy. We've got to take this whole week, try to get us healthy. We've got extra time next week because we don't play until the following Monday. I'm going to use my practices, after we can get these guys healthy and know which direction we're going, we're going to use extra practices next Monday and Tuesday so that they're meaningful from the standpoint of which direction we're going to go. We have a big, big group of guys that will not see the field this week. Not tomorrow morning, anyway."
(on how long the players are off until tomorrow) "I don't know. I'm going to work them out in the morning and see. A majority of our team will be in the training room all week."
(on facing QBs Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers when his team comes back from the bye) "I have thought about that. I think we better get better in a hurry. I told the guys today, after the way we played and the struggles we've had, look what's coming up. It's going to get tougher. We're going to have to get better real fast."
(on if DE Mark Anderson showed him anything when he played) "He only played like five or six plays. He was okay in the game. (DE Adewale Ogunleye) Wale played a bit more. He actually did some okay things; he had one bad penalty that we can't have. Of course (DT) Earl (Mitchell) tweaked his ankle a little bit. But other than that (DE) Mark (Anderson) was the one that played the least."
(on which injured linebackers are expected back) "They keep telling me they're all expected back. So I'm going to sit here and hold my breath until Monday. But they will not practice this week, those guys I talked to you about. We've got three; three to walk on the field with tomorrow. So we'll see. I'll have more answers for you at the end of the week."
(on the 4-2 start and being in first place in the AFC South every week thus far) "That's a good thing. That's a real good thing. In fact, I was just up there talking to (Texans owner) Bob (McNair) and after we visited for about an hour and a half, we ended the conversation with, 'Boy it sure was a good win wasn't it Bob?' After all we've been through and things that have been going on, to be sitting where we're at, I think we have to feel very fortunate. We've got to hopefully get as healthy as we can. We get (T) Duane (Brown) back, so we're full strength with Duane and (LB Brian) Cushing from that standpoint. Now we have to overcome the loss of a leader and a great player, so those things happen. Those are the things you'll always be challenged with, but getting this team healthy right now is the biggest concern right now."
(on if he is most disappointed with the pass defense through the first six games) "I just think it's been the consistency of how we've played defense. That's been the toughest thing. In spurts, like yesterday, we have four really big stops in the game that are the difference in us having a chance to win or not. Over the course of the game, there are just too many mistakes, too much confusion on some of the things we're doing. To me, that goes to us as coaches, making sure we're not confused and then now we have some personnel issues to work through. We've got our guys. We've got to find a way to make it work. We've got to make sure they're in the right spot."
(on what he feels best about with his team through the first six games) "The heart of our football team is what I feel best about. Just that they continue to find a way to put a W on the board. Other than the Giants game—I thought Dallas, we had an excellent chance to win the game. I thought we were in position to do that and we didn't get that done. That's all you can ask for in this league—week in and week out have a chance to win. Hopefully, we'll put ourselves in that position ten more times."
(on why things such as missed tackles are the biggest problem so far) "That's the puzzling thing for us. That's a good question or comment. The puzzling thing for us, we have the same guys. Other than (CB) Kareem (Jackson), we've got the same group of guys. We're doing the same things, but yet we've regressed in some areas. That's what is real concerning for us right now and so we're addressing it as coaches. We addressed it with the team this morning. We watched the film as a team and talked about it as a team. We've got to get them feeling good about what we're doing and why were' doing it and then we've got to go do it better. It's a problem that we all have to solve, not one of us or two of us."
(on what the explanation is for staying with their current cornerbacks) "We think that's the best guys to go with. That's why."