Kubiak addressed the media on Monday following the Texans' 34-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media during a Monday press conference, discussing the Texans' 34-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers as well as the team's options at wide receiver in light of the injury to Andre Johnson.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(opening statement) "I'll start by talking about the game. First off, I echo what I said yesterday. It was a very good team effort. You know, we went down there, it's a tough place to play. It's tough to play any place on the road in this league, but their home opener, it was very loud, but we had a very good team effort – offensive, defensive, special teams. We overcame adversity, which is moving in the right direction for our football team, being able to overcome some of the things we overcame. We played for four quarters and we talk about that all the time as a football team, with not getting consumed with what's going on in quarter one or quarter two but just playing for four quarters and having a good overall effort and seeing how things end up. I think we did that. We've still got many things to clean up, but overall it was a really good effort from our football team. Offensively, the positives, we protected our quarterback, which we knew we would have to do. We went into the game, thought our guys would answer the call.
"We knew they would have to play well for us to win, and I thought they did an excellent job of protecting Matt (Schaub). We made some big plays, continued to find a way to make some bigger plays in the game than we'd made in the past, which helped us. I think when you look at our run average, you wouldn't say that we ran the ball real well. But I think what we did is we committed to the run. We ran the ball pretty well until the fourth quarter, and of course in those situations they knew we were going to line up and run it, but I think we stayed committed to it. We can improve in that area, but I liked our commitment to what we were doing. Our quarterback played exceptionally well, handled the game very well. He made a few mistakes as I said he's going to make, but then in the overall big picture he handled the football team extremely well and did a great job with our group, keeping them poised.
"On the defensive side of the ball, really settled down after the first drive – that's a little bit like last week. We put them in bad position as an offense, but they settled down and played well the rest of the day. They did a great job of stopping the run, which they've been pretty positive doing throughout the preseason and here at the early going of the regular season. We played well against the pass until the last play where that young man Steve Smith makes that play, which he's exceptional. We've got to tackle better there, but we had played well against the pass up to that point. Some guys to note, up front Amobi (Okoye) of course had his best game as a Texan with the two sacks. He also forced a fumble, played extremely well. I like what Mario (Williams) did, too. Even though the numbers weren't there, I thought he was definitely a factor in the game. He came back and played well this week. Our linebackers as a group played very well and then a guy to definitely mention from this performance was C.C. Brown. It's the best game I've seen him play since I've been here. He played very, very well.
"Special teams, we made a big play. And Joe (Marciano) talks about that all the time, making a big play in the game. Almost had a chance to make another one there late in the game with Jacoby (Jones). We covered well and our two kickers – our punter was exceptional, keeping them pinned, and Kris (Brown) continues to kick well. But like I said, it was an overall good effort. A lot of things we've got to fix and clean up, especially with this football team we're fixing to play this week. But very positive outing and a very solid team effort from everybody. A lot of extra effort on everybody's part."
(on the team's injuries) "Coming out of the game, I'll just go through our injuries real quick. Fred Bennett's got a little hamstring, he's kind of day-to-day. We think he's going to be fine. (Mark) Bruener basically has the flu, was very sick yesterday. Started the game playing on special teams and doing some things that just not feeling well at all, so did not play basically after the first 10 plays of the game. Earl Cochran, he just got banged up, has got a little abdominal sprain but he should be fine. Ronnie Dayne, just banged up, we expect him to be fine. The biggest one of course is Andre (Johnson). And you know, I'm going to let Kevin (Bastin) talk to y'all more about Andre. But the bottom line is Andre has a sprain, has a knee sprain. That's the good news and it's also the bad news. We feel very fortunate, Andre's going to be fine. Is he going to be fine in a week, or is he going to be fine in four weeks? We're still in an evaluation process right now. But he's definitely got a sprain and we'll know more here in a couple days, and I'll let Kevin discuss that with y'all. But we expect him back, no doubt, and just hopefully sooner than later. So we'll have to see."
(on if he's ruling out WR Andre Johnson for Sunday's game) "Well, I would say if I had to sit here and talk to you right now about next week, I would say that Andre's doubtful for that football game. But I think we're going to know more here in a couple days. There was no swelling, that's the good thing. But there is definitely a sprain there. And you know, we'll see, but we're concerned with Andre right now, and we can't answer all the questions right now to be honest with you."
(on if he is considering signing another receiver) "Well, we talked about that, but I like our guys. I think Andre Davis has had a fine camp. He's been down, he's been down because of us only suiting four guys, but definitely if Andre (Johnson) can't go, Andre Davis will be the guy that will be up. And we'll give those four guys a chance. They'll have to step up for the football team. We won't replace Andre (Johnson). If he's going to miss some time, you cannot replace him. The whole football team will have to pick up the slack and we'll all have to replace Andre in how we play."
(on the performance of CB Demarcus Faggins) "He had a couple moments out there where he can definitely play better, but he made some plays. He made the big play on the kickoff, that was him on special teams causing the fumble. He had his hands full. That kid (Panthers WR Steve Smith), he's got to be one of the top players in this league in my opinion. I mean, he is something. And when you go out there and they send him your way out of the huddle, you know you're in for a tough day's work. The kid's going to make some plays, but I thought for the most part we held our own. I'd like to see us tackle better late. But Petey (Faggins)'s got some plays he can get better, but for the most part he stayed in there and battled and ended up making a big play for his team on special teams."
(on what the week means for WRs Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter) "They practice a bunch anyway. Definitely if Andre (Johnson) is not able to go, then that picks up their reps. But as far as practice goes, they're not going to do anything any different. The question I think that we'd have to answer is if Andre is unable to go, how are we going to go about it? Are we going to start Kevin and Jacoby? Are we going to leave both of those guys at the Z position and move Jerome (Mathis) or Andre (Davis) up to the X? So that's something we'll address, but as a staff, as we talked about it before I came down here, all four of those kids are going to play. They're all young players and we're going to have to- you know one of the things we said during training camp, and it's funny how things work out, a lot of people wanted to know who our number two receiver is going to be. And my answer to you guys all the time was that I'm concerned about the group being good, not who's going to be number two. So we're fixing to find out if the group can pick up the slack if Andre's going to miss some time."
(on if DT Amobi Okoye played with more maturity against Carolina) "Yeah, he did. But he still did some things a young player does. But he has the ability to rush the passer, and that's what he showed in the game. He's gotten better against the run. He's an explosive guy. When he gets off of a block, that space that he covers getting to the quarterback, he covers it awful quick. And you know I think he just played with a little more confidence his second time out. He was a factor and like I said, knocking the ball out, we could have gotten another turnover there. But he's only going to get better in our opinion, and he definitely made a lot of improvement from week one to two."
(on if the development of the entire defensive line is helping DT Amobi Okoye along) "Yeah, there's no doubt about that, because they're playing well as a group. Jeff Zgonina played well inside. Anthony Maddox has a sack. N.D. (Kalu)'s out there playing with the cast on his hand. Earl Cochran's doing his part. So I think they're just as a group getting better and we were able too move them guys around. It's not affecting them as much as it may have in the past when we move Mario (Williams) and some of those people around. So I just think the group's gaining some confidence and we can try to keep fresh people on the field and if we can do that, then we should have a chance to be effective."
(on what he has yet to see from DT Amobi Okoye) "No, we've seen everything that, the things we want to see as far as him being a consistent player and a capable pro. But to be a great player in this league you've just got to be consistent, doing it week in and week out, and so we want to hopefully it just continues to get better. But we know he's got the ability to rush the passer, just getting more and more comfortable with the pro game and what he's seeing every week and preparing week in and week out should only make him better."
(on the team's four-game winning streak dating back to last season) "You know, I don't know if you think about things like that. You just go from week to week and try to be as good as you can that week. A lot of credit right now has to go to the football players. I mean they're the ones doing the work. They've had a very good training camp and you know we came out of camp with some confidence, we got off to a good start two weeks ago. We know what we were facing yesterday when we went into Carolina. I think our kids just expect a lot out of each other. I tell y'all all the time they're very hard on each other. They're growing up as a group. There's a lot of young football players that are growing up in this league together and that's a good thing, and hopefully we can keep that group together for a long time. But I just think they're gaining confidence in what they're doing, and they expect a lot out of each other. I k now they believe in some of the things that are going on around them, and I think that the quarterback has to do with the poise of yesterday and what was going on with our football team because it's easy to get rattled when you're down by 14 on the road in a hostile environment. I thought he did a great job of keeping us under control."
(on the performance of T Eric Winston and T Ephraim Salaam yesterday) "We knew that our guys up front would have to play exceptional for us to win. Really, in calling the game, we have to keep those guys in good position. If we had long third downs, we were going to be in trouble. I think keeping our offense on schedule, being able to run the ball effective enough that we were not in third and long situations helped our tackles. But you have to give them credit, as a group they played well."
(on the importance of having ball control) "I think we have an attention to doing that. If we can keep our defense off the field and keep them fresh, we're going to play better defense. I think one of the keys to our offensive football team is being an on-schedule football team and making third downs. I think we held the ball yesterday for almost 35 minutes. I think we were 45 percent on third downs and actually the ones we missed were late in the game. If we can continue to do that and stay on the football field for that length of time, that should only make our defense better. I think it's something that we have to do week to week to be effective. It's obvious when we play that way, we've had a chance to win. We are going to have to continue to do that and even get better at that."
(on making ball control a high priority heading into the season) "Yes, that's the way our team plays best. When we went there yesterday, we preached to our guys all week that if it was second-and-10, we were going to get ourselves to third-and-five or third-and-six because if we were sitting third-and-10 with (Julius) Peppers and (Michael) Rucker and those guys teeing off on us, we weren't going to play very well. It was the way we wanted to play the football game and, fortunately, we were able to pick up some big third downs and stay on the field."
(on beating the Colts with that same strategy last year) "Everybody tries to play those that way. You're trying to keep Peyton (Manning) off the field, but that's easier said than done. They've been playing tremendous defense here. They're the world champs. I think everybody goes into a game hoping that they can find a way to keep them off the field. That's part of the process when you play Indianapolis."
(on knowing that you had to do this before the game last year) "Yes, you better do it or it's going to be a long dang day for you. I think everybody in this league has found that out. Just sitting there watching Tennessee yesterday, Tennessee was trying to run the ball and keep their third downs manageable and they were in position at the end of the game to have a shot. You better play pretty close to that way to have a chance against this football team."
(on having confidence in the offense because of QB Matt Schaub if WR Andre Johnson can't play) "It gives us a lot of confidence. I think the thing that we talked about as a football team we continue to talk about ourselves about worrying about our football, cleaning up our football, worrying about being a team effort every time we go out. Let's be honest, to replace Andre (Johnson)'s contribution to this football team, that takes a lot. It'll put the emphasis on the team if he's unable to go, and everybody will have to do something a little bit better in their areas to make up for that loss, if there is a period of time there. But we're only going to win if we play good as a football team. Even if Andre was out there, he's not going to beat them by himself and he'd be the first one to tell you that. We'll have to play good team football, in all three phases."
(on WR Andre Johnson) "I'll tell you, he's been something. He really has and to be off to the start that he's off to right now is exceptional, so I know it would be disappointing for him if he's unable to go this week. But one thing I know about him, he's such a worker. He'll get back as quick as he can. He'll make up for lost time. That's what he's all about. He's played really well. I really like he's running after the catch. That's something that we talked about, him taking another step as a player, and I think he's started to do that this year."
(on how he is going to tell the team about WR Andre Johnson) "Just like I just told you all. It's not about replacing Andre or who's playing go to play X. If Andre can't play, it's about everybody in this room doing something better. It starts with me, the coaches, the players. We will all have to make up the slack for Andre. Not one guy can do that."
(on if the team can respond to WR Andre Johnson's injury) "I think good teams respond to those types of situations. Our guys will know what that's like. We'll dig down deep and we're going to find a way. We're going to find out. That's part of this league. Everybody loses key players. You have to move on. It's an opportunity for someone else to step up and do a job. It is what it is. The players will be able to look at each other. If Andre is unable to go, they know that we will have to play great team football this next weekend to have a chance against the Colts. I don't think I have to tell them that. I think they understand that and they will expect to do that. I can tell you that."
(on if he spoke to WR Andre Johnson today) "You know what, I haven't. I talked to Kevin (Bastin) a couple times. He was in earlier this morning. The bottom line right now is the fact that he did not swell. They immobilized him today and tomorrow and they will take another look at it on Wednesday morning and then we decide where we go from there."
(on how impressed he was that the team kept its composure after being down early) "I was very impressed with how they were able to do that. But I could feel it. There's been something different about them. We talked the night before the game that this is an emotional outing. The first time on the road, the fans, it would be a tough environment. We said if they start fast, we won't panic and if we start fast, it won't be enough, so let's play all day. It's something we had addressed and talked about. We were the reason they started fast. We were pretty sloppy early in the game. I think our guys had it under control on the sidelines. To come back and answer, Andre (Johnson) makes two big plays after we go down 14-0, I think that gave everybody a lot of confidence that, 'Hey, let's just keep playing and let's play for 60 minutes.'"
(on why the plan was not to put CB Dunta Robinson on WR Steve Smith the whole game) "No, I can't say that it was. We believe in both of our guys. They have basically the same issue with Steve Smith that we have with Andre Johnson. You've got to move him around to find ways to get him the ball. They are going to play him all over the place, so we felt like it was best for us to go into the game and just play sound defense. You know he's going to make some plays. Hopefully, you don't give him any big ones like we did late in the game. We believe in what we're doing from that standpoint, we've just got to be a little better."
(on FB Vonta Leach's performance) "We're a team that you never know from one week to the next if we're going to be a lot of two back or a lot of one back. It just kind of all depends on who we're playing that week and how we feel is the best way we can beat the football team. We knew we were going to play a lot of two back offense against Carolina. We knew Vonta (Leach) would be a big part of the football game. He was a factor catching the ball as well as leading in the run game. He's done a good job since he's been here. That's the most we've called on him to play this year as far as his reps, and he responded and played well. It was close to his hometown so I knew it meant a lot to him and he played well for us."
(on keeping a methodical approach after being down 14-0) "Yes, it's very hard to do. I learned this a long time ago, if you're down 14 or you're down 20, you can only score seven in one play, so you're not going to make them up. I think our approach of playing all day long and not panicking one way or the other has been something that has made our football team better, and I think it showed yesterday."
(on WR Andre Davis) "Andre's got speed. That's what he can do. He can run and he can stretch the defense. He's played and been successful in this league before and we know this is his kind of second go around or his second chance. So it's a big opportunity for him as a player and he's knows he's going to be out there on the field if Andre Johnson cannot go. So I expect him to take advantage of his opportunity."