Texans head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media on Monday during his weekly press conference. Kubiak reviewed the Texans' 35-6 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and discussed the Texans' next opponent, the Minnesota Vikings.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on facing Minnesota) "They're a heck of a football team. We've got a start on them early this morning. They're a very physical football team. (They) run the ball as well as anybody in football. Defensively, (they) have two of the biggest inside players in the game, so we've got our work cut out of us. We spent most of the morning evaluating what happened yesterday and then we're well on our way to Minnesota, but we understand what we're facing. That's a tough place to play."
(on if RB Adrian Peterson is the best) "Well, if he's (RB Adrian Peterson) not, he's right up there with the best. He's very capable. What was it last year he set the NFL rushing record for a single game? (He's) very explosive. He's going to be fresh. They're coming off a bye week, so we've got our work cut out for us from that standpoint. They have a chance to make big plays. I think (QB) Gus (Frerotte) has played really well for them. I had Gus in Denver. He's done a good job, and then defensively, if you go back and especially paying attention to their home games this year, they've been very dominant. We'll have to play extremely well, and it's a tough place to play, too. So, we'll have to play with a lot of composure."
(on what does it say about this team to start 0-4 and then come back to 3-4) "I think it says a lot about their character. It was very difficult. You go through a stage like that, it's very easy to go the other way and not be able to dig you're way out of it. But, as I told you guys, the kids always kept working. They always kept battling and believing what they were doing and never waivered on what we're asking them to do or how we're asking them to do it. They've been fortunate now. They've been rewarded through that hard work. It was nice to be home, but now we've got to get back out there on the road and play some very good football teams. This is a tough league, and you've got to understand that from week-to-week, day-to-day and just go out there and do you're best and, like I said, have belief in the direction you're heading. Some good things have happened the past few weeks. So, hopefully, we'll just keep going one day at a time."
(on where he is at with who will start between S Will Demps and S Nick Ferguson) "Well, (S) Nick (Ferguson) will start again this week. We gave him an opportunity. We gave (CB) Eugene (Wilson) an opportunity. As I told you guys yesterday, I don't feel like it was anything against (S) Will (Demps), to be honest with you. We're searching for some identity on defense. We haven't been playing the way I think we're capable of playing. We need to communicate better. We had a couple of veterans who've played a lot of football games and done a lot of good things in this league, so we gave them an opportunity. They've been working for it, and they went out and took advantage of it yesterday. We'll need everybody before this thing is said and done, and that's Will included. He was very professional yesterday. He went out and played special teams. He did his job, which I would have expected. But we had a couple of guys take advantage of an opportunity also. So we're going to continue to give guys chances to play and opportunities with our football team, whether it's (T) Ephraim (Salaam) helping out or however we're doing that. If it makes us better, we're going to take a shot at it."
(on if CB Eugene Wilson is going to start against Minnesota) "Well, he (CB Eugene Wilson) played in nickel is what he did. He started at safety in nickel, but he did rotate with (S) Nick (Ferguson) a little bit during the game. We like that combination of those two guys just because of how much football they've played and how smart they are. I think they also help (S) Brandon (Harrison). Brandon is a very young player who's trying to become a big-time player right now at a very young age. When he's out there with them, I think he's very comfortable with them. So, they're going to all play. To sit here and say, 'These two guys are the starters,' they're going to all play."
(on if CB Eugene Wilson will start in the nickel) "Well, he (CB Eugene Wilson) was playing on the back end. (CB) Dunta (Robinson) plays the star position, the nickel position, but the two starting safeties in nickel were Eugene and (S) Nick (Ferguson). And of course, this football team played us in a lot of three wide, so our nickel was on the field a great deal."
(on if he is closer to starting CB Dunta Robinson) "I don't know. He (CB Dunta Robinson) played, I think, 39 snaps yesterday. Going into the game, we were a little concerned because he was sore coming out of last week. But in all honesty, he was much better this week, so we're very encouraged. There was progress there. I think what he's doing is going through training camp, so let's see how he comes out of this week. Let's see how he comes back Wednesday. But to play 39 or 40 plays, you're only 20 to 25 plays away from saying you can play the whole football game. But we'll continue to do what's best for him. We won't push him to the limit too quickly. We'll let him kind of dictate to us on how he feels and where we go from here."
(on if there was ever a point where he was worried that CB Dunta Robinson couldn't come back and be productive) "I never doubted that he would come back. I don't think any of us knew that when he came back, how quickly he would adapt to playing again. It's been a long time since he's been on that field and to get out there in a competitive environment and get knocked around a little bit. The key thing has been the response has been very good. He's come out of each practice, each game feeling very good. Yesterday, (he had) a lot of confidence. Played extremely well, too. He tackled well, gets a big interception. So I think the progress that he's making is very surprising, but the fact that he's back playing, I was not surprised."
(on if it provides a boost of confidence for a player like CB Dunta Robinson to come back) "It's a boost for mine and everybody's, I can promise you that. (It's) just great to have him out there. His teammates really respect him. He brings a lot to the table. He makes our team more physical just by the way he plays the game, and he's brought a lot of energy to the group."
(on if he and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan changed the style of calling plays) "No, I don't think we've done anything different game plan-wise. We've handled (QB) Matt (Schaub) a little bit different in practice. I mentioned that yesterday. As far as our offense, I think we've kind of attacked people the same way. We're being very aggressive. We're throwing the football pretty darn good right now. The two backs (RB Ahman Green and Steve Slaton), the way they've played the past two weeks has definitely helped us. We're going to continue to be aggressive. We weren't on the field much in the first quarter yesterday, but we made up for over the course of the next three quarters. But Matt's leadership and the way he's playing right now has definitely got us moving in the right direction."
(on the reason for QB Matt Schaub's success) "I think it's a combination of everything. Our young offensive line is becoming a heck of a group. The two running backs staying healthy have a lot to do with that. O.D. (TE Owen Daniels) has a lot of confidence, and No. 80 (WR Andre Johnson) is playing as good as I've ever seen a wide receiver play the game right now. So all that happening around Matt is making Matt better, and he's obviously playing extremely well himself."
(on the wide receivers blocking well downfield for the run game) "Well, that's a mentality, and really that starts with (assistant head coach) Alex (Gibbs). If I could bring you in here and you could watch a run meeting, what he demands from wide receivers in the run game to do their job, he sends a sense of responsibility in. 'Hey, when we run the ball, you have a job to do because when you're out there running routes, we have a job to do for you to catch the ball.' So it just kind of filters throughout the group. They're very unselfish. We go into the game yesterday with four wideouts. (WR) David (Anderson) has to step up. He steps up. (WR) Jacoby (Jones) steps up as a player. He gets more touches with (WR) André (Davis) out. So opportunities for players and guys taking advantage of opportunities."
(on WR Andre Johnson playing as well as he's ever seen since his rookie season in 1983) "I've been around a while. I've been around some good ones. I've been around (former 49ers WR) Jerry Rice in San Francisco, (former Broncos WRs) Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey. I've been around some very good ones, and right now, he's special. I mean, he wants the ball. The plays he's making after the catch. He took a pounding yesterday. Obviously, they were going to make sure he got hit after he caught the ball, and he popped right back up. The month that he's had has been extremely special. And people are trying to do some things to take him away but, as I've told you before, we're really moving him around. He's responded to that. He responds to the mental pressure we put on him to get him open. He's doing a great job."
(on how the offense is clicking right now) "Well, I think one of the things that comes up to me when I think about it, it's funny in this league. You could be struggling doing something and just keep working and then all of a sudden over a two-, three-, four-week period, you can flip the tables. We weren't very good on third downs the first two weeks. We were ranked in the bottom of the league, and all of a sudden we start playing better. And all of the sudden we're sitting here today, you're number one. I talked to the defense about things like that. We've struggled in the red zone, you know, 'Hey, let's start over today and let's improve from here on.' We go out there yesterday and we hold them 0-for-2. So, it's a long season. I don't think you ever get caught up when you're at the bottom of something or think you've got it figured out when you're at the top. You just keep working and stay focused on what's going on and, obviously, focusing more on the things you're doing poorly."
(on RB Steve Slaton's touchdown run) "It was a heck of a run. He got some great blocks from O.D. (TE Owen Daniels), cracking. (WR) Andre (Johnson) made a great block. Forty-four (FB Vonta Leach) made a heck of a block on the linebacker. It's a play that we had set up for short-yardage situation. We extended our snap count. We had a few different motions going on. I think that's the one you're talking about. But our players handled it very well in that situation, and the kid made a guy miss. He ran better in the second half than he did in the first half, but he's getting better each week."
(on being one step closer to solving the turnover problem) "It's never solved. We had a good week, OK? We had a good week. We protected it. Our defense went out and got three (turnovers) for us. Any time you're plus-three in this league on Sunday in the turnover margin, you're going to have an excellent chance to win. So that had a lot to do with it, and now we have to go out there and do it on the road. It's a very difficult place. It's a loud place to play. So it will be just as important this week as it always is."
(on an injury update) "We just have the normal bumps and bruises. (RB) Ahman (Green) cramped up yesterday. He is a little beat up today. I think he'll be day-to-day, but I do expect him to be OK. He was pretty sore today. (TE) Joel Dreessen has got a jaw… a sprained jaw. He took a shot in the jaw, but he'll be OK. Won't be able to talk much. He'll be OK."
(on how DT Amobi Okoye played) "You know what? It's the best he's played this year. I said that, I think a few weeks ago. The thing that (DT) Amobi (Okoye) did in this football game, and he's very young still, he played with the best effort he has played with. He played from the snap to the whistle. We're trying to get his effort level up. The key to his game is quickness and getting up the field. He was exceptional yesterday, so whatever we found yesterday, we need to bottle that and keep working. But I was very pleased with his outing."
(on Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams) "Well, they are up the field, those tackles, very difficult to handle inside. They get you running away from them sideline to sideline. They pursue extremely well. One of the keys to their defense, too, is when they're running the ball well, they keep offenses off the field. And you go in there and play at that place – I've been there many a time. It's about as loud a place as you'll play in this league, so snap count's a problem. They're beating you off the ball. But they're very effective. They're good across the board defensively."