The Texans beat the Redskins on the road Sunday, and head coach Gary Kubiak met with the media the day after at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on injuries to TE James Casey and WR Andre Johnson) "(WR) Andre (Johnson) has a mild ankle sprain. He'll be day-to-day throughout the week. We feel better about it today than we did yesterday coming out of the game. He'll be day-to-day as we head into the weekend. (TE) James (Casey) is a little bit more severe, but they both are going to be fine. It's just James has a longer road back than Andre."
(on what type of injury TE James Casey is suffering from) "It's a more-than-mild ankle sprain."
(on the health of the rest of the team) "Yeah, we've got some bumps and bruises. (QB) Matt (Schaub) is beat up a little bit. (FB) Vonta (Leach) is beat up a little bit, but I think all those guys are going to be fine. It's just a matter of getting them through the week and getting ready to play."
(on QB Matt Schaub's performance despite being beat up physically) "The thing that was impressive, to start a game and the third play of the game you throw an interception, a lot of guys have a hard time overcoming that stuff. He let that go real quick and you look at the rest of the football game. In the first half, I think he was 15-of-18 and we busted a few protections. He went down more than we want him to go down, from that point, too many sacks. He never got frustrated and really manned up late in the game. They came after him many times and he stood in there and made some great plays. We just have come to expect that out of him, but it was a really gutsy performance on his part."
(on how this game ranked with others he's coached) "I was just saying it was such a great football game. There were so many big plays in the game, on the behalf and we made our share too. To have that comeback that we had and then you're in overtime—there was just some good ball going on from the standpoint of basically five quarters of good NFL football. For us personally, we didn't play real well as a team, but what we did was we had about four or five guys put the team on their shoulders and be exceptional. (DE) Mario (Williams)'s performance, (WR) Andre (Johnson)'s performance, (QB) Matt (Schaub)'s, (WR) Kevin Walter's, (SS) Bernard Pollard, what he did late in the fourth quarter. Those guys really just carried the football team. There were some special efforts from that standpoint, but from looking at the film, golly, it was not one of our better football games. But to still find a way to win playing in a tough situation like that, that was impressive."
(on what it meant to have Mike and Kyle Shanahan come visit him after the game) "It meant a great deal. I have so much respect for Mike from working with him for years and respect for his family. In a lot of ways, I've been a part of his son's life for a long time too. I've known him as a kid and obviously gave him the chance to get started here as a coach. The job he did for me and y'all see the kind of job he's doing as coordinator yesterday, they were outstanding offensively. It meant a great deal and I told him that. There is just a lot of respect on our behalves toward each other."
(on Mike Shanahan saying how proud he is of Kubiak) "That tells you what kind of person he is. We battle. We have a lot of friends in this business and we go against each other all the time. You're game planning each other, scheming each other. When it's all said and done, it's about respect and how you do your job, how you go about your job. It meant a great deal."
(on the contributions of TE Joe Dreessen) "He continues to play well on special teams. I think O.D. (TE Owen Daniels) probably played three snaps to his one at tight end yesterday as far as the numbers go. He comes in there and makes the biggest play of the game to get us in field goal position right there. He's been solid as a rock all preseason and we need to keep him involved with what we're doing offensively and he's turned into a fine, fine player. I wouldn't have expected anything different, but it's amazing how guys like that just work so hard, the ball seems to come their way. (WR) Kevin Walter is a great example too. He did a heck of a job."
(on what QB Matt Schaub has done over the years to pick up pass rushes and/or take hits) "I just think he's played. The more football he plays, the better he's going to get. He's got great pocket awareness. He has a total command of what we're doing. Our game plans that we carry, they're massive. It's because of Matt Schaub, not because of the coach. He can handle it. He can get everybody in the right spot and a coordinator from that standpoint. He deserves a great deal of credit. I just see him continuing to get better. He understands our offense and what we want to do and how we want to do it. Super. The more he does that, I think you're going to see him continue to put up good numbers."
(on if he plans on changing the kick return after RB Steve Slaton's struggles) "Well, there are a couple things. We need to get Steve to get a better jump on the ball. If he goes back and watches the film and watches the approach of that kicker, he should know where that ball is fixing to go. That's going to help him. Number two, once you get that out of control on the football field, the bottom line is just get away from the football. We didn't need to start on our half yard line. But he had shown some flashes as a kick returner. We weren't real good for him as far as the blocking scheme goes yesterday. I think Steve will make some plays for us. I know that he'd like to have that one back, but I think he will make some plays for us. I'm not disappointed in Steve's effort and what he's doing; it's just obviously one play he'd like to have back."
(on if he expects any fundamental changes to how football is coached or played due to head and neck injuries suffered in the sport) "Well I think you're starting to see that now. People talk about the target from a tackling standpoint, when you're breaking on the ball, all the targets for d-linemen, everybody; your targets have been lowered as players. I shouldn't say lowered, but they've just changed. When you get in the hitting position, you have to understand that everything is happening from the neck down now or it's going to get called. For years in football it hasn't been that way but that's the way it is now. I think it's changing for everybody."
(on if those changes will have to start at the lower, youth levels of football) "I would think that would be very important. Every phase of football is going to have to do things different, ultimately. If this level of ball is doing it that way, then I think everyone would have to."
(on the pass defense being a concern coming out of Sunday's game) "Yeah, we gave up some big plays. They did a great job. They schemed us up pretty good. We really, really struggled. But we did have some good stops in the fourth quarter. (DE) Mario (Williams) just revved his game up I think he kind of took over and made sure (Redskins QB Donovan McNabb) was having to get rid of the ball. Yeah, we've got some things we've got to clean up there. I know we're young back there, but that's no excuse. We've got to get better and get better quick because people are going to throw it on us until we step up and stop it. We've got to improve from that standpoint."
(on if he was surprised that the Redskins weren't rushing the ball that often) "Well, when you're having the success that they were having in the play-pass game, I can see why they stayed with it. They were having such big chunks of yardage. (Redskins QB) Donovan (McNabb) was playing so well. I know (Redskins head coach) Mike (Shanahan), he was trying to put the game away, so to speak, and make another big play to put it away. They actually ran the ball a little bit in the next-to-last drive, when they got themselves in field goal position; we blocked the field goal. I think he was going with what he thought was a hot hand yesterday and that obviously was his quarterback."
(on his decision to punt rather than kick a field goal on the Texans first possession of overtime) "Yeah, I think it would have been a 53 and a half-, 54-yard field goal. I think the ball, it looked like to me, it might have been a hair inside the 35 or just outside the 35; one way or the other. What I was watching, the game goes, it was obvious that every kicker wanted to go the other way. We kicked off the other way (K) Neil (Rackers) put the ball in the end zone. Their kicker put it in the end zone. If you watch Neil's kickoff in the fourth quarter, I think when we made it 27-20 if I'm right, his kickoff hit about the 10-yard line. It just raised some red flags for me. The place we were trying to get to is the 32-, 30-yard line, where we felt comfortable. If you miss right there, like I said; I just like the momentum of the football game, what we were doing, just a gut feeling. I thought we would pin 'em. We didn't do that with the punt. But we did get the initial sack, if I'm correct, and then we got the big penalty. But I loved the momentum of the football game in our favor. Like I said, it worked out."
(on his initial thoughts about Dallas) "We played them just recently, so the only thing we're really looking at different is their last preseason game, which they didn't play many guys, and their first two (regular season games). I mean, they're two plays away from being 2-0. That's typical of the National Football League. They're the same football team that's loaded with talent that was starting the season and obviously they're in a situation right now. I know they're going to play great football when they come in here. We'll have to be ready to go. We'll have to play a lot better than we played yesterday, I know that. But I don't have to tell our players that. I think we knew that when we left the field yesterday."
(on how worried he is about the defense's struggles against the pass) "It concerns me, because it's like anything else – if people see you struggling in one area, they just keep coming after it. So we're going to get tested. That team (Dallas) can line up and pound on you, too; y'all know about the backs that they have. But obviously, when you're struggling in one area statistically, you seem to get tested very, very early in the football game, so we're going to have to stand up and we're going to have to get some pressure on (Dallas QB) Tony (Romo), and then our young kids have got to continue to grow up and play better."
(on whether turning his back on field goal attempts is his standard procedure) "It seems to be. I think it's just, I don't know, something I've done my whole career. We line up for a field goal, I know if it's good or not; I can hear the crowd. I'm usually looking at the book, trying to decide what I'm going to do the next series when we get the ball, so it's just kind of habit. I don't know if it's a good habit or a bad habit, but it's a habit."
(on whether the team is more confident now than in the past) "I think it's calmer. We go in at halftime and, let's face it, we had gotten pushed around about as good as you can get pushed around and there was some uneasiness in the locker room, let's say. There were a lot of disappointed people and guys frustrated with each other and talking – coaches and everybody – and yet once that was over, there was a calm about, 'Hey, we're 13 points down. Let's go win a half of football.' So it wasn't like we took any frustrations or any panic to the field in the second half; once we got our frustrations out of the way and the talking was done, so to speak, we just went out there and said, 'Let's go play a good half of football and see what happens.' So I think we've matured from that standpoint; we've grown up. And also I think I've told y'all many times, I think we've come to expect to play in great football games—that is this league—and get in them and be willing to make a play and be the difference maker. So I think we've grown up from that standpoint."
(on the performance of RB Arian Foster) "He played pretty good. What did (QB) Matt (Schaub) throw it, 52 times? Am I right? And Arian has become excellent in protection, so we trust him so much from that standpoint. The play he made on the screen is something we've been after. We caught the perfect zone dog and he and Matt made a great play. I thought he ran the ball—he had some very good runs in there. He had a couple I know he can do better, but like I said, whatever we have to do to win that week. If we feel like we've got to run it to win it, then we're going to do that, and if we've got to line up and throw it, we've got the guy that can do that. So you never know when you're number's going to get called, but he did his job yesterday. He did a good job of protecting Matt."