During his weekly press conference, Texans coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media on Monday following Houston's 13-12 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on what he thinks the key is to the defense's improvement) "I hate to give you the same answer; I just think it's consistency. We've had the same people in place now for a while, as I've said. We've been more consistent. Have we been more aggressive? We have. But we've just been more consistent in our play, been more consistent with the people that have been on the field. We've had some new faces come in here and help us. Looks like we may lose one of those this week with (LB Xavier) Adibi, but (we've) just been very consistent in what we're doing."
(on what is wrong with LB Xavier Adibi) "He's got a groin issue. We'll know more about him tomorrow. He'll be day-to-day throughout this week, but there's a good chance this week could be a problem for him."
(on if he sees a swagger with his team as the more they win the more confident they get) "Obviously, yeah. In this business, when you find a way to win two, three, four in a row, you gain some confidence in what you're doing. I think that the month has looked the same in a lot of ways. All of the games, we've played much better on the defensive side of the ball (and) we protected the ball better, even though we did turn it over more than our share a couple of weeks ago. But we have protected the ball better than we did earlier in the season and we're just making plays in crunch time. That's the difference between winning or losing in this league. We've just done a better job of that."
(on if the key to taking the next step is to play on an even level with Indianapolis and Tennessee) "Yeah, naturally, you're not going to get out of this division without having one heck of a year. And this division is not going anywhere anytime soon. Those football teams are young, for the most part, and have all been very consistent, the other three teams in our division. So we're going to have to continue to grow and get better. We're going to have to play better within our division, and those games that we were in like you're talking about right now, we're going to have to find a way to win those games instead of not winning them. So it's very important. It's important to the confidence of our group that we were able to get it done yesterday against this very good football team as they move forward. So I think it's very important. You can always get in as a wild card. There's other ways to get into the playoffs in this league. But it's always got to start with your division."
(on CB Dunta Robinson coming back and now the defense is playing better) "You're exactly right. I think when he went out there, it gave us some confidence just as a group that, 'Hey, he's back at his old spot.' (CB) Jacques (Reeves) has really grown up as a player and has played extremely well throughout the season and is playing his best football. (DT) Amobi (Okoye) makes a big play yesterday, and like I said, I just think if you look across the board, the group has settled down. But you've got to give Dunta a lot of credit. Since he's come back, they've obviously played with a lot more confidence."
(on DE Tim Bulman and DT DelJuan Robinson coming from the practice squad and playing well) "You're right. That's fun as a coach. In this league, you get to coach a lot of players and of course, you coach your first-rounders, your second-rounders, your big free agents – those types of guys. But there's something about these players that walk in your locker room and they're free agents trying to make their way in this business. They weren't drafted, and you watch them find their way on the practice squad, then find their way to suit up for a game, and then all of a sudden they're starting and they're on the field. When these guys are successful, it's really a joy for us as coaches and it's really a joy for the players in the (locker) room, too. I remember when I first suited Timmy (DE Tim Bulman) up and put him on the active roster. They gave him a big hand in the room. I can remember the same thing when we did the same thing with (DT) DelJuan (Robinson). The players root for guys like that because they come up the hard way. When they're successful, I think it means a lot to everybody."
(on DT DelJuan Robinson still referring himself as a temporary and saying he didn't want to change his number because he wants to remember where he came from) "DelJuan doesn't talk much, so evidently, you got a lot more out of him than we do. But no, he's a young kid with a lot of ability. I remember (former Mississippi State head coach) Jackie Sherrill telling me when he came out, 'You give this guy a chance, he's going to make it in your league.' So that's where I kind of first found out about him. But he's worked extremely hard for (defensive line coach) Jethro (Franklin) and (senior defensive assistant) Frank (Bush). He's had his spots where he's done some good things, but I think yesterday was obviously a big bright spot in his young career so far to step up and play the way he did yesterday. He was our defensive player of the game. He played extremely well."
(on if the defensive line or the linebackers were the key to stopping the run) "I think it was everybody. If you look at it, they had 100 yards rushing yesterday, and I think 30 something of that came in two out of the first three plays. So the way we settled down after that was very good. But it happened as a group. Our secondary tackled well, too. I can think of some big tackles that (CB) Dunta (Robinson) made, a drive-stopping tackle. Also, (S) Eugene (Wilson). So it's involved everybody. We've talked about that over the course of the last month. We've all been committed to tackling and doing our job, and we've tackled much better."
(on RB Steve Slaton at the end of the game having the presence of mind to stay inbounds) "You're right. He's done that other times this season. I think we've talked about this other Mondays about how he actually gets stronger as the game goes for a small player. But you're right. Good teams find a way at the end of the game when you're up by a field goal, you're up by whatever and you're trying to close the game out. And everybody knows you want to run it to close the game out, you find a way to do it. That run he made on first and ten when we first got the ball back was just tremendous effort, and then being able to stand inbounds on the last one it tells you how smart his is. You go back to Green Bay, he catches the ball right before the half, he goes out of bounds with one second left so we can try a field goal. So those are some things you can't teach. You can talk about them, but players have to have a presence about him, and he's a very mature young man."
(on WR Andre Johnson doing his job) "Well, Andre is going to always do his job. There's nobody that works harder. Our job is to move him around and try to find ways to get him free when people are paying a great deal of attention to him defensively, trying to take him away. We actually see some coverages that I've never seen before sometimes. We'll see the way they're trying to rob him or make sure that he doesn't touch the football. To his credit, he plays through that. To his credit, moving around helps him play through that. And then, to (speak about) the rest of the guys, whenever people have done a good job on him, we've had other guys step up like (WR) Kevin (Walter) against Green Bay. So he's a special player, and people are going to do everything they can to take him away. But you're right, that's our job, to find a way to make sure he stays involved and find a way to get him the ball."
(on not getting away from the running game yesterday) "Well, I think the thing that has helped that has been the fact that we've played much better defense the last month. You know, say you're not running the ball well and all of the sudden you're looking up and the next time you touch it, you're down by seven or you're down by 10 or you're down by 14. If that's the case, then it's hard to stay patient. But when you feel good about your defense, which I felt very good about them yesterday and have for the past month, you knew they were going to keep us in the football game. You knew that it was going to be that type of game, so you try to stay patient. The one thing that gets you beat against a team like Tennessee is if you drop back too much and put your quarterback in a bad spot. They're going to knock the ball out or something bad is going to happen. So I think the play of the defense has helped us be patient."
(on if QB Matt Schaub found more arm strength in his time off with injury) "I'm sure he's fresh. I know that's helped. He got a little wild yesterday. We had some long drives within the course of the game and, of course, he was taking some shots. But that was a big game for him. He needed to play through that. He knew he was going to take his pounding, so to speak. But he manned up, as everybody on the football team did, and he made some great throws along the way."
(on the information he got when he challenged a play in the game) "I got good information, I just didn't listen good enough. They felt like that it had hit Petey (CB DeMarcus Faggins) in the head, and it did. They told me that. But yeah, Petey came off the field and we asked him, (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) and I were standing there, and he said, 'I don't know.' So I should have listened better. Bad decision."
(on Houston Rockets forward Shane Battier's advice to throw to WR Andre Johnson on every play) "I tell you what, he's (Battier) a sharp guy. I met him this summer over at the golf course across the street one day. I tell you what, we will listen to him. I don't know if it will be every play, but I believe in him. I love watching him play."
(on if he feels like the culture has changed around the Texans' organization) "Well, it has to change over a long period of time, not one football game. You know, people have asked me, 'Did you turn the corner? Did you do this?' You know, I don't know when that day will come when we say we've turned the corner. We all know what our goal is. We're going to fall short of that this year – we're not going to be a playoff team. But there's no doubt in my mind that we're a better football team right now. There's two very important football games to play. Yesterday was a big step in the right direction. We played a very physical, very good football team that we knew we would have to go toe-to-toe with them for four quarters if we were going to win, and we found a way to do that as a football team. So it was a big step."
(on the Pro Bowl selections being announced tomorrow) "Oh, that's very important. You know, my point was I'd like to be the first one to tell them. Sometimes we're not. That's just the way it works nowadays. But we've obviously got some players very deserving of that opportunity. You know, as a coach, you want to see them get that opportunity or get that recognition. But at the same time, you have be honest with them and let them know that, 'Sometimes, it doesn't happen right away. When you've had a good year, they make you come back and do it again the next year.' (DE) Mario's (Williams) a good example. Last year, he had a Pro Bowl year but didn't make it. So we'll see what happens from that standpoint, but it's one of those things where you'd like to be the first one to talk to them. But we'll root for all of them either way."
(on if he talked to DE Mario Williams last year when he didn't make the Pro Bowl) "Yeah. I said, 'You know, there's going to be some guys out there, some players who are going to make you do it again.' That's the way this league works. It kind of did that to (LB) DeMeco (Ryans). DeMeco had a tremendous rookie year and didn't make it. They made him do it again, (and) he came back and made it. So this thing is about respect, and players make you earn that respect the hard way. The good thing about (DE) Mario (Williams), he never flinched. He came back this year, he's been even better, and I would think his chances should be pretty darn good."
(on if he was ever concerned over QB Matt Schaub's play after the first two games) "Are you talking about from the start of the season? It's easy after 14 weeks right now to look back and see what type of two teams he played those first two games: Pittsburgh and the way they've played defense this year and of course Tennessee and the way they've played. You know, it was concerning for all of us because obviously, we didn't play good in those games. We kind of go as he goes, but the one thing that he's done is he's continued to battle. You know, this league is very difficult on quarterbacks, and being able to be consistent is the key. He's had two good weeks, and I want to see him finish the same way."
(on if he talked to QB Matt Schaub after the second game any differently than he would after a normal game) "That's so long ago. I don't know that I talked to him any different. I expect so much of him, which y'all well know. I want him to be a great player, not a good player, so I'm very difficult on him from that standpoint. He's hard on himself, too."
(on if the fact that it hadn't have been for Hurricane Ike, they would have opened with the number one, two and three rated defenses in the league) "Yeah, at the time you didn't know that. But I'll tell you what, coming out of the preseason, we knew those would be three very good defensive football teams."