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McNair/Capers press conference

Dom Capers

(opening statement) "I'd like to begin by thanking Mr. McNair and the Houston Texans organization for giving me the opportunity to be their first head coach. We've had some very good times over the last four years and we've had some that aren't quite so good. One of the things that I did understand when I took this job was that our responsibility was to win football games. We made good strides over the first three years, but unfortunately this year was not we wanted or expected. Because of that the Texans will have a new head football coach this coming year."

(on his future) "Well this obviously has been a long, tough year. I'm going to step back and look at what options I might have. I feel like there will be some options out there, so it's just a matter if they fit into what I'm looking for. Having been a head coach twice and a defensive coordinator twice, I'm looking for a situation I think I can be comfortable in being able to go in and contribute to and organization and help them win."

(on his emotions) "I'm disappointed that things had to end this way. I understand this business and I understand your job as a head football coach is to win games. Obviously when you put your heart and soul into something and it doesn't work out the way that you wanted and anticipated, then you're disappointed. But I also know that there are a lot of variables; some of those variables you control, some of those you don't control. I've always worked under the premise, and I tell the team this, that as long as you give it everything you have you can hold your head up and move on, and you can look people in the eye. One of the things I can say here is over the first years our approach hasn't changed. If you talk with anyone of our players, even through the difficult second half of the season, that we've stayed consistent in terms of the demands, work ethic and preparation. We were able to play close in a lot of games. We put ourselves in position to win those games, but unfortunately we didn't make the plays to win those games. That's the way it is. If you don't put the effort into it or take shortcuts and cut corners, then I think you have a harder time of living with yourself. I can tell you this: we didn't change our approach. We worked as hard as we could, did everything we could but unfortunately it didn't work out for whatever reason."

(on what he told the players) "I came in and basically told them they were going to have a new head coach next year. I told them that I appreciated their effort and approach through an extremely difficult season. They stayed the course and I think they continued to compete extremely hard. I don't think that you saw any of the characteristics of losers in terms of playing the blame game, pointing fingers, making excuses and many of those things that you see losing teams do. I think that they were accountable and accepted responsibility, and handled themselves the way you should handle yourself. Really what I left them with was to take the experience that they had from this year and commit themselves to never having another year like this. I think many of these young players will grow from their experience because they realize maybe now more than ever what a fine line it is between winning games. When you look at the five, six, seven games that we had that were so close – the two overtime games, the three straight games we had and lost in the last minute – that's the difference from one team to the next."

(on how he felt about the ovation from team) "Well you get to know each other. You practically live with each other from the time you start training camp. One of the things I always tell them is that it's hard to be a phony in this business and last because you're evaluated on what you do and not what you say. Your credibility is tied into your actions not your words. I've had a chance to watch them in extremely difficult situations. I've challenged many times in terms of can we bounce back from the frustration and a hurt of a tough loss, and I've seen them do it. I think that will be a real benefit to the young guys on this team as they move forward into next year."

(on if team lost confidence after first three loses) "I think confidence is a fragile thing. This is a game of confidence; it's a game of momentum. When the momentum goes against you, you have to try to do something to get it turned back around and heading in the right direction. I think it's especially true if you have a young team, and you put the number of young players on the field that we did. You always look to your veteran leaders, the guys that have made the journey before when things are difficult, to step up and set the tone and show those young guys what you have to do. You can probably make an argument for the number of games that we had right there to where we just had to make a play to close the game out – we weren't able to do it. Was confidence somewhat of a factor? It could have been yes."

(on what situations could have avoided this outcome) "I think hindsight is always 20/20. With all of us, if we look back, there are obviously things you might do a little bit different. But I think it's counterproductive to sit and go through any of those things now. Sure, there are always areas that you look back on. Hopefully that's the value of experience that you learn from those experiences, and I hope that's the case with this team. I think they'll learn from the experiences they had this year, and I think it will enhance their chances of having success next year."

(on if he remained hopeful throughout the season) "I think you always do. I'm somewhat the eternal optimist, and I think the only way you can be effective in terms of leading people is to feel that there's always a chance. If you didn't take that approach, we would have gone into the game yesterday feeling we had no chance. I challenge anybody to talk to our players and think that those guys didn't go into that game thinking we were going to win that football game. All the talk of the number one pick and all those things didn't make any difference to those guys. They wanted to go to San Francisco and win that football game so they could finish out with a win. They fought and played that way, and took the game into overtime. Unfortunately, they made a key play and kicked the field goal to win the game in overtime."

(on how tough it is to leave players) "You develop relationships, and to me the relationship you have with the players is the great thing about this business. You have a different relationship as a head coach than you do as an assistant coach. But it's rewarding when you see these guys develop, especially young guys, and when you're starting a new team you have a lot of young players and a lot of turnover in your personnel. So that's just the process that you go through. But the advice that I gave them was to learn from our experiences this year. I think if you handle it the right way, no matter how tough things are, it will make you stronger and more resilient. When you're in those situations a year, two years from now, you'll find a way to win those close games."

(on if personnel is good enough to win) "Every team in the National Football league has strengths and weaknesses. As a coach, your job is to take the personnel that you have, figure out what they can do and then go out and do it to the best of your ability and win football games. That's the challenge for every head football coach in the National Football League."

(on 3-4 defense) "I've been involved with the 3-4 defense and I've been involved with the 4-3 defense. I think there's a lot of carry over in terms of what you ask people to do. I think what it comes down to, no matter what defense you're in, it's a matter of players going out and making plays. I think many times (the scheme) is overrated."

(on losing his job) "It's never fun. Because you come in with expectations and you set goals, and to go through this is not a lot of fun. But I've been around the business that I understand it. I understand your responsibilities and what you're hired to do. When you've been in the business a long time you understand that."

(on one game that could have changed momentum) "I think there are probably a number of games. I look back to the Cincinnati game, the third game of the season. We played against a playoff team, a team that won their division; we're sitting there in the fourth quarter with opportunities in their territory. A key play here or there, the ball being knocked out of David Carr's hands the ends up being a 16-10 game. We had the ball in their territory with the score tied 10-10, and we just didn't make the plays."

(on if he wants to coach next year) "It's been a long season, obviously. But if I took a year off I might drive my wife crazy. I don't know. This is what you do. You've been doing it for 30-some years. I'm sure you step back, take a little time and probably that competitiveness comes out. We are what we are, and we are what we do many times. We'll see. I really don't know right now. We're going to step back and evaluate the possibilities, and if there is one that's appealing we'll sure look at." 

(on what his best memory from the past four years) "I think we've had some really good ones. Probably the opening game was as good as it gets in terms of going out and doing something that nobody in the country gave us a chance of doing. I think that's always rewarding. We've all had people tell us we couldn't do something, and when you can go out and prove them wrong, to me that's rewarding."

(on Houston fans) "I think they're excelled fans. When we've given them things to cheer about, they've come out and supported the team and gotten into the games. That's a big part of our job to try to make the games as exciting as we can. Again it's part of the process that you go through when you're starting from scratch. I think they've probably shared in our disappointment this year. When you're really into something and it doesn't work out the way you want it to work out, then you share the frustration and hurt that goes along with that."

(on what the team needs to get to the next level) "The future is good. I think the possibilities are excellent for this team. Before this season started, of course there's obviously all this talk about the playoffs, we hadn't had a winning record yet and there were three teams in the AFC that had winning records that didn't make the playoffs. You look at this year, there's a 10-6 team in Kansas City and a really good 9-6 team in San Diego that didn't make the playoffs, and so that's a big step. As I look back over our season, we had a legitimate opportunity to win six games. We were in position to win those games and we didn't. But had that taken place, we would have been kind of right in the mix of things. Unfortunately that didn't happen."

Owner Bob McNair

"Thank you for coming out.  This is not an easy day for me or for the Texans organization.  Since I bought this franchise, I've said all along that we want to provide a winning team for our fans and a team that played hard every game.  And after four seasons, I think we have had a team that's played hard.  And I think for the first three years, we've made a lot of progress.  People have asked what standards I've had in terms of our record, and I've said I want us to make progress every year and I want us to improve every year.  And if we keep improving every year, we'll reach that point where we're a winning team.  This year we didn't do that.  This is a performance business so today I met with Dom, reviewed the situation and told him that I thought it was in the best interest of the Texans to go ahead and make this change.  We will keep our strength coaches Dan Riley and Ray Wright.

"I want to say something about Dom Capers because he's been such a loyal and trusted member of the Houston Texans organization.  I believe that he has handled himself in absolutely the highest fashion and represented our organization in such a way to command respect and admiration.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate the way he has conducted himself as being our head coach.  He's been a professional and has always worked with the highest standards throughout.  Part of this whole drive is to put together an elite football team that can perform and be competitive in the NFL.  This is a collective responsibility of everyone in the organization, including me.  I've been assessing this whole situation for a number of months.  I have looked at our whole organization and what we're doing.  I didn't want to rely solely on my own judgment and that's why I asked Dan Reeves to come in and act as an advisor and to look at our team.  We have been diligent about this as I've gone through this whole process.  Our fans are very passionate and they love their team.  I've talked to hundreds of them and I know they're disappointed and I know they're hurt now after the disappointing season we've had.  But I'll tell you no one is more disappointed than I am.  I just want to assure all of you, speaking directly to our fans, that I'm totally committed to producing a winning team.  And I'll do everything in my power to see that we do that.  I think we are very close to being a good team.  We have work to do and we are already about that task."

(on the rest of the coaching staff) "The other coaches will be given an opportunity to interview and seek other jobs around the league.  And we'll certainly help them do that."

(on Charley Casserly) "Well, there are two separate functions within the organization.  I looked at both in terms of the job that was done in terms of the draft, in terms of trades, free agents and the expansion draft.  I evaluated the whole situation and felt we made a lot more good decisions than bad decisions.  There were some decisions that were made that we'd like to do over again.  But I think that will always be the case.  When you make a lot of decisions, some of them might not be the best.  I also compared our record in terms of draft and performance of players we took in the draft and compared them with other teams in the division and certain other elite teams in the league and we were on par with them.  Some of them have done better than we've done; some of the clubs have done worse.  So we were really about in the middle in that regard.  I want us to do even better than we have in the past and I'm committed to seeing that we do that."

(on possible changes in the scouting department) "I'm sure as we go along, there'll be changes, but wholesale changes, no."

(on interviewing coaching candidates) "It is a complicated process because of the playoffs and because of the different rules as to when you can interview.  I would hope that by the end of the month we pretty much would have concluded our interviews.  We can interview people who are in the playoffs; there are certain windows during which time you can do that.  It just makes things a little more complicated.  We'll be interviewing probably six or eight different prospects."

(on Dan Reeves' role in the hiring process) "Dan will be an advisor just as Charley will be an advisor but it's going to be my decision as to who we hire."

(on possible candidates) "Right now we're lining up interviews but until such time, as we get our schedule firmed up, I'd rather not say anything.  But most likely, after we've interviewed, we'll make those people available to you."

(on if Dan Reeves is a candidate for the head coaching job) "Dan is not interviewing for the job."

(on if anyone whose team is currently in the playoffs will be interviewed) "We have asked for permission from a number of people, including some teams that would have a bye week."

(on the importance of the next coach being suited to help develop David Carr) "Well, David Carr is critical to our team.  We want to get the best football coach we can get, whether he be offens[iv]e or defens[iv]e [minded].  Certainly, we would like to give David better tools than we've given him so far and we would certainly like to see him continue to develop.  And we want to make sure he has the necessary resources to allow him to do that."

(on picking up the option on David Carr's contract) "We will be talking with him about that and certainly that's our intention."

(on a more animated coach being sought for the position) "I don't think so.  There are different personalities in the NFL.  There are some of them that scream and holler and win.  [And there's] some of them that don't say anything that win.  I think that's just a reflection of their personality, it's not necessarily an ingredient for success."

(on if fans should be excited about next season) "We're going to be an exciting team next year.  We'll have four picks out of the first 67, I believe, if I've counted it correctly.  So we're going to get some quality players out of the draft.  We're not that far away from being a good team.  We're going to be exciting.  I know the fans here love good football and it's up to us to give them good football.  When we do that, they'll be there."

(on low attendance figures toward the end of the season) "I've said that coaches are judged based on the performance of the team, the players are judged based on their performance on the field and I'm judged based on how many people are in the stands.  That's a quick judgment.  We need to have fans out there, because not only is it important to us from a financial standpoint, but also if you don't have fans out there, you don't have a home field advantage.  But I'll say this, I think our turnout was every bit as good or better than the other teams we've played over the latter part of the season.  Our fans have been very good and very loyal."

(on last offseason's decision-making process) "I wouldn't say all those decisions didn't work, number one.  I think what we have to do is find the very best coach we can.  Part of that search will center around what their schemes are and how they plan.  What is their offensive scheme?  What is their defensive scheme?  We just have to make sure we agree upon those schemes and that we're ready to go forward on that basis.  And then we can tell our scouting and personnel people what kind of personnel we need.  Our coaches can do that.  And we need to stick to those schemes at that point in time.  Certainly the changes that were made during the season did not help.  It's difficult any time you make a change during the season."

(on at what point he decided to dismiss Coach Capers) "I didn't make that final decision until this morning.  I've said all along that I was going to evaluate the situation and that I'd make that decision when the season was over.  And now the season's over and I made that decision. The old adage that you prepare for the worst and hope for the best [applies here].  Certainly, that was it.  I did a lot of studying and preparation all during the year in looking at our situation and trying to evaluate it as we went along.  But in terms of the decision with the coach, we met this morning."

(on the possibility of switching to a 4-3 defense) "We'll let our coaches decide that.  That's certainly not out of the question.  They'll have to come in, look at the personnel and make a determination as to how we'll be most effective.  The 3-4 is not played by that many colleges so it takes a little time to really become proficient in that system because you're drafting players who haven't played in a 3-4.  You're projecting how they're going to do when you switch them from a 4-3 to a 3-4, from a defensive end to a linebacker.  It takes them time to develop.  We'll just have to see what the coaches think."

(on what he told the team this morning)  "I did address the team.  I thanked them for playing hard and never quitting.  I also told them they should feel proud that they played for Dom Capers, that he's a great person and a great coach and they should be proud to have been associated with him.  And I thanked Dom and the staff."

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