Texans coach Gary Kubiak was happy to see that the Texans play three of their first four games at home in 2009.
On Tuesday, the Texans released their 2009 regular-season schedule, which includes a Monday Night game against the Tennessee Titans. Head coach Gary Kubiak talked to the media about the schedule, and players reacted to the upcoming lineup.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(opening statement) "Well, first off, a lot of exciting things going on. We're busy with the draft meetings right now and we got our schedule today about lunchtime. Obviously, a couple of things; I'll start with the preseason. I think it's a good preseason schedule because we get some 3-4 work with Kansas City, (and) we get a Monday night game, which we're going to have one during the season, so I like our preseason. I think it's very competitive to get us ready for the regular season."
"Obviously, looking at the first month is exciting for us from the standpoint of where we were last year. We're totally opposite as far as going on the road three of the first four last year, so we will be home that first month three times. That's a nice way to start, and then obviously you have to go back and balance up, so three of our next four are on the road. And then you look at the middle of the season, we've got four big division games in a row with the bye sandwiched in there. That'll be a big point in our season, a big month. Having Tennessee on Monday night, as I've said before, I think players have to earn the right to play on Monday Night Football and they gave us an opportunity last year and our guys responded, so that's a big game. That's way down the road, but obviously that will be an exciting time for our football team. And then we end up on the road two out of three there at the end and end up with one of the top organizations in football (New England), of course, in the last 10 years.
"So all schedules, when you first look at them, they all look tough to you. In the NFL, all schedules are tough. A lot of things, you never know how they're going to unfold as far as injuries to the people you're playing or your football team, but it's an exciting schedule for our football team. It's pretty consistent as far as when we play; we're basically a Sunday football team throughout the season except for the Tennessee game. But the key is right now that we've got to start getting ready for the Jets, so we'll start doing that. Our offseason program is going good; we're about a week-and-a-half into it. Now we get something to really focus on, so we'll start to do that."
(on the importance of the schedule) "I think sometimes, when you look at who you're playing from a standpoint of scheme-wise, sometimes like as we go back and look at this now, we start to prepare for these teams from an offensive and defensive standpoint. I think when you get two or three games in a row against the same type of defense or the same type of offense, that can be advantageous to your football team. I'm not that deep into it yet to really speak on that behalf, because like I said, I just got it today as I sat in those meetings. But like I said, NFL schedules, I don't think you ever know. I mean, I see teams on here that struggled last year that have been very good football teams and playoff football teams in the past, so I don't think you ever know how it's going to play out. You're going to have to play well, and I know it's an old cliché, but we're going to worry about us and we need to get better as a football team."
(on the expected weather situations the team may face) "If you look at it, first off, I think if I'm counting correctly, we're going to play 11 games in perfect weather because eight of them are at home and three of them are in domes, if I'm right. So you've got five opportunities for weather there and going to Miami late in the year, it's obviously not hot, and the times that we're going to go to Buffalo and to Cincinnati, we've got a chance there early in the season, so it doesn't look like there's any games that you would say, 'It's going to be very warm here or very cold there.' That's also something that we did face last year – really because of the hurricane (Hurricane Ike) more than anything – that we won't be facing this season."
(on the Monday night game against the Titans) "I'm sure it's big to the fans here. It's big to us, too. I'm going to tell you, we've had some great football games with them. We've come out on the short end of too many, I should say. We found a way to beat them late in the season last year. They're the team to beat right now in our division, the way they played last year. And then you've got Indianapolis, who's a playoff team. So we look forward to that game. They're (Titans) a team that we have to be competitive against, that we have to find a way to be successful against if we plan on being a playoff team, and having it on Monday night just adds a little bit to it."
(on if he expected to get more than one Monday night game) "I can't say that I thought one way or the other. I thought we'd get a chance to have another Monday night game after the way we played last year. But getting a chance to do it more than once, it would've been nice, but just to get a chance to do it one time I know is exciting for our players."
(on if playing so many games at noon CT will help the team) "I think it does, because you're consistent as far as your preparation and what you're doing. That's what time we practice every day because we do play most of our games at noon, so other than going to Arizona with the late start, and of course things can change with the flex scheduling and those types of things, we're pretty consistent in our preparation and when we play."
(on if he'd like to have a game changed to Sunday night late in the year) "Yeah, I mean, if they're changing, that means you're the way you should be – you're competitive and you're a team that has a chance to be a playoff team. So that's something I hope we face down the road."
Wide receiver David Anderson
(on the Texans' first four games) "Three of four at home is better than starting off at Pittsburgh and dealing with that part of the schedule. Hopefully, we don't have any situations here, any hurricanes or things like that to defer us in the first couple of weeks. But I think this is a much more friendly schedule than we had last year. I'm excited to get the season started, let alone get three out of our first four games at home. That will be fun."
(on playing a cold-weather game against the Bills at Buffalo) "We won in December at Green Bay, so I'm not too scared of the cold. I also played at Colorado State. I've never been to Buffalo, so I think it will be fun no matter what."
(on closing the season at home against the New England Patriots) "We come back from Miami and go to a home game against the Patriots. Obviously, anyone would prefer playing here against the Patriots, especially at this time of the year. My rookie year (2006), we went to New England. I think it's going to be an awesome game. I'm really excited because I think it's going to have implications as opposed to our last two years, when our last games were about winning them just to win them and those teams were going into the playoffs. It's going to be different for us. I know the Pats are going to be playing for something, too. It's going to be one fun game to end the season on and hopefully springboard us into a playoff season."
Right tackle Eric Winston
(on the home opener against the New York Jets) "I think it's going to be pretty interesting. Whenever you are playing a team with a coaching change, it's hard to prepare for because they are not going to show you everything in the preseason. At the same time, he (new Jets coach Rex Ryan) was a defensive coordinator at Baltimore, so we know a little bit of what they are going to do. They (Ravens) played here last year; I'm sure they are going to try to do the same kind of things to confuse us.
"Of course, they didn't play against Matt Schaub, either, so it's going to be a little different. I think we are going to be a little more experienced. The offensive line, having that time against a team like Baltimore and knowing the kind of things they will do to confuse us, we'll be a little bit more prepared than usual or than what you would be going against a new coach. It's going to be a fun game. They are going to be a good game. They are going to be a good team all season, so it's going to be a good challenge. I am just glad it's at home."
(on hosting the Titans at home in a Monday night game) "I think it will be the biggest game of the year, depending on how the season starts for our teams. I know Tennessee is always a big rival for us. It's always a sellout here at home, but having that as a Monday night game and knowing the atmosphere here against Jacksonville last year, I think it's going to be Jacksonville times two. I think it's going to be a complete sellout, and if it's the kind of game that we had here towards the end of the season, fans and the network are going to be pretty happy about it because it's going to be such a great game. They are going to be a really good team again this year, and it's going to be our chance to solidify ourselves, with the start we want to have, to solidify ourselves as a playoff contender."
(on playing AFC South foes back-to-back in the heart of the season) "That is going to be a huge three-game swing. You've got to think you have to win all those. You need three wins like that, but especially against who they are: two against the Colts and one against the Titans. You hate to say worst-case scenario, but even 2-1 in that stretch right there in three games would be huge for us, especially when you look down towards the end of the schedule and see how you need to springboard yourself off of the bye week – a late by week it is, too. Getting some wins off of that would be really crucial."
(on the toughest defenses the Texans will face) "You have to say Tennessee. They've been able to, especially last year, just insert guys. I think that's the true telling of a great defense. When you are able to put guy after guy in there – it doesn't really matter who it is, they know the system and they know how to use the system to their advantage. You saw that when (Albert) Haynesworth came out of the lineup last year and they just inserted one of their guys and never missed a beat and beat Pittsburgh at home doing that. I think they are going to be a tough defense.
"You have to say the Jets are probably going to be a tough defense. They already have talent over there, and now with Rex Ryan and the way he calls plays, I think catching them early is going to be a real blessing for us because I think they are going to be a tough team all year, but getting them early might be better. But who knows, because you never know how injuries are going to affect things. Injuries are such a crucial part of the NFL because there are only 53 guys, so if certain key guys get hurt in certain parts of the season, it makes your schedule a lot easier or a lot harder depending where they are and how it happens. It's going to be a lot of fun, but I definitely think those two defenses coming into this season will make teams have to strap on their helmets."