The Texans spoke with the media after practice on Wednesday, discussing what many of them called a "must-win" game coming up against the Jaguars on Sunday.
Head coach Gary Kubiak DT Shaun Cody LB Brian Cushing WR Andre Johnson SS Bernard Pollard CB Dunta Robinson LB DeMeco Ryans QB Matt Schaub
Head coach Gary Kubiak(on any health issues) "We've got a few guys out today. (LB Zac) Diles and (LB Xavier) Adibi are sick. They're out here but they did not practice. (CB) Glover Quin, did not expect to practice him today, he's just beat up, we're just giving him a day's rest. (LB Brian) Cushing gets his normal Wednesday (off). (T) Duane Brown did do walkthroughs but did not do practice, so that's where we're at right now."
(on T Duane Brown's injury) "Really, basically a sprained knee."
(on if he's concerned about T Duane Brown being limited on Sunday) "I feel good about him. It was really scary – if you saw the play in the game, you'd have thought something really bad could have happened, so I think we're very, very lucky with him. His toughness, his frame of mind right now, he'd have gone today if I'd asked him to. But we'll rest him and probably practice him on Friday."
(on Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew) "He's a key. We've got to stop him, and it's not just stopping him running the ball. I mean they're throwing it to him on third down. He's going to touch the ball his 30 times in a game and as he goes their football team goes, so that's a big challenge for us."
(on what makes Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew hard to tackle) "Small, powerful guy. Hard to tackle. Sometimes, you think he's down and he's not down. Just very, very strong."
(on if Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew has good balance) "Excellent, yeah. He was the same way in college. You go back and look at his runs in college, I remember studying him coming out and he came out of a bunch of piles and made big plays when people thought he was down.
(on RB Maurice Jones-Drew breaking a lot of long runs) "Well, he's fast, too."
(on what San Francisco did against the Jaguars last week to slow them down) "Well, they (Jaguars) turned the ball over. I mean, if you go back and look at the game, I think they had two turnovers in the red zone. Like I've said, any time you come out of a game, there's probably something that didn't go right and I'm sure that's what they're talking about right now is their turnovers on the offensive side."
(on the mindset of the team) "Well, obviously, we need a win, you know, so I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat that, but we practiced good and just need to stay positive, stay strong, stay together and go find a way to win a game."
(on T Rashad Butler) "He's made a lot of progress. We went into camp concerned about who our third tackle would be. It wasn't a problem from camp on. He was very, very good, very positive. He has not played a lot of football, but if (T) Duane (Brown) can't go, he's the guy."
(on if possibly starting T Rashad Butler worries him) "Well, that's part of it. You lose players, you've got to replace them, so we'd find out. It'd be a good opportunity for him as a player."
(on neither team having many sacks) "I think both teams get pressure. If you look at them as a football team, they make you get rid of the ball. I mean, they're 3-4, 4-3, a lot of pressure, zone dogs and stuff like that. So like I said, sometimes it's not always sacks as it is, do they make you get rid of the football. They definitely do that."
(on if he's happy with the pressure the defense is getting on opposing quarterbacks) "I think that we have consistently had more pressure than we've had in the past. Now obviously, we don't have the sacks that we have right now but I think that we have been more consistent making people get rid of the ball."
(on DE Connor Barwin) "I think he's got a chance to be an excellent player. He has not played a lot of defensive football, but he's been pretty darn good. I mean, he's had some growing pains, but he shows signs of being able to be one heck of a player in the future and I think he will."
(on Jaguars DT John Henderson) "Well, he's a big, powerful man. Very tall, even when he doesn't get there he gets his hands up and can knock balls down. That was (G) Kasey's (Studdard) first start, I think, as a pro, so that was a heck of a start to get. He's been much better, he's been getting better, so he'll need to be better this weekend."
(on his message to the team about turnovers) "We went on an eight-quarter run, if I'm right, from Indianapolis for two, Tennessee for four and two here where we played as clean as we played all year. And then all of a sudden, in one quarter, we turn it over—I shouldn't say one quarter, one of them was at the end of the third quarter—but when you're playing a team of that caliber and you're talking about possessions being the difference in winning and losing, we only punted twice but we gave them the ball three more times. You're going to have a hard time beating people like that."
DT Shaun Cody
(on Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew) "I've been playing him for a while. We played in college when he went to UCLA. He's got incredible leg strength. He's got a strong lower base and he's tough to bring down."
(on the keys to bringing Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew down) "Be in your gaps, be gap sound and bring a lot of people to the pile. That's the way to get him down."
(on if slowing Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew is the key against the Jaguars) "No doubt. They've always had a good running game. They're passing the ball a lot more than we thought, but you definitely have to stop him to stop their offense."
LB Brian Cushing
(on Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew being a difficult guy to tackle) "Yeah, he's a real good runner. He's done a great job this year. He's already got over 1,000 yards rushing. As a defense that prides itself on stopping the run, we have our hands full this weekend."
(on if they are looking at this as a five-game season) "We know we have to win out. That's the biggest thing. Of course, you want to win every game, anyway. We don't really have that option of giving a game away here or there. We put ourselves in this hole and we're going to have to get ourselves out."
(on what makes Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew so tough to tackle) "He's a strong guy. He's low to the ground. He runs real hard. There's no question about his talent. He runs with passion."
(on what they've noticed about the Jaguars red zone turnovers recently) "A lot of guys are getting after the ball and getting in the quarterback's face, making him uncomfortable. They're making the running backs uncomfortable. You just have to find a way to get the ball back and get it back to your offense.
WR Andre Johnson
(on needing to rally the troops) "The biggest thing is just trying to go get a win on Sunday. No one's down. Of course, we're very disappointed about what has happened so far this season as a football team. You know, we've had bigger expectations than what has happened this season but everyone's very positive and we just have to go get a win on Sunday and hopefully we can win out these last couple of games that we have."
(on Sunday being a must-win) "Everyone knows that. You don't have to just keep beating it up. Everyone knows the situation and like I said, everybody's very positive. We could very easily as a team go in the tank and be down because we didn't live up to our expectations but no one has done that and we're just going to try to do everything we can to get a win on Sunday."
(on how he refocuses) "Like I said before, when you play—any sport you play—you can't control a game after it's over with. There's nothing we can do about what happened in our first 11 games. So we only can control what's left in the next five. We just have to take them one game at a time and everyone knows that, and like I said, we're just going to try to do everything we can to get a win on Sunday."
(on if getting the win is easier said than done) "I think sometimes guys, you can put that extra pressure on yourself rather than just going out and approaching it like any other game because of the situation. But I think we'll be fine. We know what's at stake and we just got to go out and play to the best of our ability."
(on how important it is not to turn the ball over) "It's very important. When you turn the ball over and things like that it's very rare that you come out winning football games. In order for us to go into Jacksonville and win, we know we can't turn the ball over and we know we have to play a full 60 minutes. That's something that hasn't happened around here. Every week, we come in here saying that we didn't play a full 60 minutes and things like that so like I said, we know the situation. We know what situation we're in as a football team as far as accomplishing our goal and these last five games we have to play the best football we've ever played around here. So like I said, everyone knows what's at stake."
SS Bernard Pollard
(on RB Maurice Jones-Drew) "He's a wrecking ball. He deserves everything he's gotten from the Jaguars and he's one of the top running backs in the league and we're going to go in there and we're looking to shut down the running game. I really believe they're a good team but we're a good team too and we have to get back to our roots. We've been off for the last three games and I think we all realize what's at stake because it's been horrible around here. It really has been horrible. Nevertheless, we're going to get back to it and we're just going to get ready to play football."
(on what he means when he says it's been horrible) "Nobody likes to lose. Nobody likes to be in the position we've been in. The three games—we've been in all three games and we just lost it. Some way, somehow, we found a way to lose it, but we cannot make this contagious. We have to find a way to get over that hump. And until we find a way, we're going to stay in the positions that we've been in every Sunday. We have to figure out a way to win a game."
(on how they can get over the losing hump)"I'm speaking from a player perspective and I really believe that we have to fix up some things. I kind of went on the field today saying this the whole time, every time I go out on the field, we have to find a quick fix to get to 6-6. We've got to find any way. Every man has to take it upon himself because we cannot get comfortable. We're all collecting our checks. We're all having a good time and we're enjoying the life, but at the end of the day this is a career. This is our job. This is something that our fans and the management and everybody look forward to, for us to be in every game, for us to go far. And I really believe we have a team that can go, but we have to accept everything that comes with everything that we're getting. We have to win."
(on how players respond to what he's saying) "Everybody's responding well. Everybody understands what's at hand and like I said, this is a game, but this is a career, too. It can make you or break you, and my biggest thing is, we really have to realize that we have to go and play ball. Because I don't care what's been done, change is not always good. And I speak from experience: Change is not always good. I try to let the guys know that we need to go out there and we need to fight. We've got five games left and there's no reason why we can't win out. None whatsoever. I don't care who you put in front of us. We play with the Colts. We play with the Titans. Could we have won the games? Yes, we could have. But we found a way to lose them. We've got to come together and we got to fight. We've got to keep tramping."
(on why he's saying change is not always good) "I speak with change because if something doesn't go right with one player—if someone decides to get rid of him, then you're sitting on the street. It just doesn't matter because it falls in every area. From the players, from whoever, we've got to, like I said, we cannot keep finding a way to lose because when the families watch, they're going to try to pinpoint whoever. And like (head) Coach (Gary) Kubiak said, we cannot point fingers. And we're not looking to point fingers; we're looking to get better. And I really believe our team is very capable of that but like I said, it starts in practice. If we practice great habits and practice finishing, we can win games."
CB Dunta Robinson
(on the next five games) "These next five games are all must-win games and we can win them. We can go 5-0, and every guy in this locker room believes that. We just have to go out there and make it happen."
(on the keys to winning in Jacksonville this Sunday) "Playing 60 minutes. Playing a full football game. We've played for a half a lot of this season; we haven't played two halves. If we can put a complete game together, as we've done in some games and come out victorious in those games, we won't have any problems coming back home with a 'W.'"
(on if the players understand the enormity of the task at hand) "I think they do. We have enough vets on this team. We have enough guys on this team that understand what's at stake here. I think guys understand and they want to get the job done. I think we will go down there and get it done."
(on DT Jeff Zgonina saying that Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew is capable of running both by you and over you) "He's five-foot-seven, 200-and-whatever and he's hard to bring down. He's already got the leverage on you. As a defender, you can't get as low as he can when you're that powerful and that strong and that short. It's always tough hard to tackle a guy that small."
(on if you have to gang-tackles Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew) "You just run into him full-speed. That's what I do. I can't speak for nobody else, but I know what I would do to try and get him on the ground."
LB DeMeco Ryans
(on how impressed he is that no one is pointing fingers) "It shouldn't be. We all, everybody, you step out on that field, everybody has a hand in the outcome of the game. Everybody has a chance to step up and make a big play at one point or another in the game, so finger pointing—there's no need to point fingers. Everybody just look at themselves and see, 'What can I do more to help the team win?'"
(on what they can fix after looking at the two different halves of the Colts game) "It's guys just being consistent. That's the only thing. Just doing the same thing we do in the first half, just continue to do those things. Don't change up and do anything different. Don't play a different technique. Just everybody do what you're supposed to do."
(on how they can become consistent) "It's just everybody has to be accountable. It's all personal issues, it's not just all, 'Something's wrong with the defense,' or, 'We're not in the right calls.' It's none of that. As players, we have to step up and be accountable to each other and know that we're playing for each other and guys are counting on you. You've got a guy in coverage, the guys are counting on you to cover him, and the guys who are covering, they're counting on the guys up front to go get after the passer. So it all ties i, in the end."
(on if he looks at the next five games as a five-game season) "Yeah, it is a five-game season. Starting in December, starting now, like I said, we've got to start out going to get number six."
(on this game being a must-win) "We all understand that point. We all understand where we are in the season and we understand that this is an important game for us. All of our focus, all our preparation is we're just focused on getting win number six."
(on why the team is better on the road than at home this year) "I don't know. I can't pinpoint one reason. I think there's a lot less distraction when we're on the road. You can go out a lot more focused when you're on the road, just going in. It's 53 guys going to play."
(on why Jacksonville has been better at home than on the road) "I'm not sure. You want to win the games at home. That's the key in the league, whether you can go find a way to win games on the road. That's big for you and we've got to find a way to do that."
(on if this is the biggest game in franchise history because they still have a chance to go 10-6 for the first time) "It's the next one. All of them are big games. I feel like all the games are big. This is another big game for us. It's important, and we've got to get this win."
QB Matt Schaub
(on the mindset of the team) "Good. We've got a new week and a new challenge ahead of us and we're excited to go play Jacksonville. It's a team we know well, and so our team's in good shape. Everyone's positive and just hanging together."
(on the Jaguars) "They do multiple things defensively. They've shown a little bit of 3-4 this year and especially to us early in the season and they mix in their 4-3, the stuff they've done in years past. They have a big, aggressive group and they're physical and they present some challenges for us."
(on getting back to the "old ways" of doing things) "When I think of that, I just think about going to the basics and just doing our Day 1, Day 2-type instillation stuff, the stuff we know best. And not try to scheme too much, just go out and line up and beat the man across from you."
(on how he can get back to playing turnover-free football) "We just go back to executing and just doing what we do best and just taking care of the ball. Just taking what they give us and not try to do too much."
(on how hard it is not to get frustrated) "I think you get frustrated with the way the game turned out, but in this business, good or bad, if you don't let that stuff go whether you win or lose, by Tuesday when you wake up and move on to the next one, that's where you get yourself in trouble because then your focus is on the past and not on what you can do in the future to continue on a good note or pick up and get better from a disappointing loss."
(on needing to be 10-6 to compete in the playoffs) "We're trying to remain focused on this game, but it's definitely a must-win for us. Our back's against the wall and we've just got to come out swinging as a team, and our guys are prepared to do that. We're ready to go out there and play a hard-fought football game. But it is a must-win game for us."
(on if they look at the remaining games as a five-game season) "Absolutely. Really, a one-game season. We just take them one at a time. We've got to go out and get a win this week and then we'll look for the next one, but right now we've just got to go get number six."