A day after his team gave up almost 500 yards of offense in a 31-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, head coach Gary Kubiak said that changes are in store for the Texans' defense.
The Texans rank 32nd in the league in total yards (409.7) and passing yards (301.3) allowed per game. They rank 31st in points allowed per game (28.6) and have allowed at least 24 points in every game this season.
"Our standard as a football team is not being met right now, and that's all of us," Kubiak said of what he told the team during their Monday meeting. "We've got to find a way to meet our standard in all three phases of the game, and we're going to have to do a better job across the board.
"We're just searching right now for some answers on defense. We're going to have to do some things to give ourselves a chance to get better, because it hasn't gotten better in the last few weeks, so we've got to do some things… Something's got to change. It's not good enough right now."
The season-long defensive struggles have put coordinator Frank Bush in the crosshairs of fans and the media, but Bush will continue to direct the Texans' defense. Senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes, who has 10 years of defensive coordinator experience, will continue to work closely with Bush.
"Frank will call the defense," Kubiak said. "Ray's been sitting about six inches from him (during games) for the last two years. Ray is a part of what we're doing. They're all in it together. Do we need to change something? Yeah, we need to change something. We've got to figure out a way to do better, but it won't change who's calling it."
Kubiak was asked if any players or coaches on the defensive side of the ball are in danger of losing their jobs.
"I think we have to do everything we can to give ourselves a chance to improve upon what we're doing," he said. "I think we've got to (look at) every player we've got available. We may have to go about how we do some things coaching a little different throughout the week. But we have got to give ourselves some type of chance to improve. And we have been searching. We've played a few different guys, done a few different things, changed a little bit in what we're doing, but the result's been the same. So we have to keep searching. We can't sit still."
Against Jacksonville, the Texans played cornerback Brice McCain in a rotation with rookie Kareem Jackson. They also gave more snaps to second-year safety Troy Nolan and rookie middle linebacker Darryl Sharpton. Brian Cushing moved back to strongside linebacker after two games in the middle. He also played middle linebacker in nickel and had nine solo tackles, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit.
"That was a positive," Kubiak said. "He did play well and do some good things and become much more active in the game, but then we had some other problems."
Kubiak said that cornerback Jason Allen, whom the Texans claimed off waivers last Thursday, "will become involved right away" this week, adding: "We've got to give him a chance to help us out." A fifth-year pro, Allen started seven games for the Miami Dolphins this season with three interceptions.
Last season, Bush's first as a defensive coordinator, the Texans had the worst defense in the league through three games. They turned it around to rank fourth in the league over the final 13 games.
That turnaround has yet to come this season.
"I'm aware of some of the issues we've had, but it's not an excuse," Kubiak said. "There's no reason for it not to be improving somewhat."
The Texans have placed six defensive players on injured reserve this season, including Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans and defensive end Connor Barwin. Kubiak said "there should be some progress" nonetheless.
"Going to Indianapolis (in Week 8), I thought there was a little bit of progress," Kubiak said. "Then, we come back against San Diego and the big plays and the yardage all came back, and then yesterday, you give up 491 yards in a football game. I mean, that's inexcusable. It's trending the wrong way. We've got to figure out a way to stop the bleeding and get it going back the other way."
Players said that they took Kubiak's message to heart on Monday.
"The message was that we cannot, and he will not, accept any slack off, any slipping, any letdowns," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "He's going to hold us all accountable to being professionals and getting this team on the track that it needs to be on. You've got to respect that and you've got to understand that as players, that we're in a place now that you should never be in. I don't have the magic formula on how to get out of it, but we need to get out of it – by hook or by crook, any means necessary."