Texans quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp was an NFL offensive coordinator for the past nine seasons.
New Texans quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp has been on the job for two weeks now after being hired on Jan. 27 to join Gary Kubiak's coaching staff.
Knapp was an offensive coordinator for the past nine seasons, including three in Atlanta with Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (2004-06). He was the Seattle Seahawks' coordinator in 2009.
Knapp has known Kubiak since 1994, when Kubiak was the 49ers' quarterbacks coach and Knapp went to 49ers camp as an extra arm behind Steve Young, Elvis Grbac and Bill Musgrave. In 1995, Knapp began his NFL coaching career in San Francisco as an offensive quality control coach. He replaced Texans tight ends coach Brian Pariani, who left the 49ers with Kubiak to go to the Denver Broncos with Mike Shanahan.
In this Q&A with Knapp, we asked him about subjects including his relationship with Schaub, his thoughts on the Texans' backup quarterbacks and his specific role with the passing game on the Texans' coaching staff.
When did your interest in joining the Texans' coaching staff begin?
Greg Knapp:"This has been a place that I've wanted to come coach at if I ever got the opportunity, because I believe in what the organization stands for. The reputation outside this building and in the league is that it's a very stable and sound football organization. It's not run off emotion; it's run off of sound football advice. With the look of the organization and from knowing Gary for so long, it made this a really attractive place. And my wife is from Texas [Muenster, Texas; north of Dallas], so she's very excited about coming back to her home state."
You coached Matt Schaub for his first three NFL seasons in Atlanta. How excited are you to work with him again?
GK:"Very excited. That was obviously a very appealing part to me, because I was Atlanta as the offensive coordinator when we drafted Matt in the third round out of Virginia. Really, a lot of my work was spent with Mike (Vick) and Matt getting their development going, and that was about it."
What sticks out to you about Schaub from your time together with the Falcons?
GK:"I was trying to teach a brand new offense to Mike Vick, so Matt kind of had to listen and follow without as much attention from me on him. And yet, you still saw the performances he was capable of. He had a game his second year against New England – Bill Belichick's defense when they were rolling, back in '05 – where he threw for 300 yards and had three or four touchdown passes. They were blitzing a young quarterback like you would expect from Belichick, and Matt never got fazed. And that was kind of an indicator to me that, 'This guy's got something special.' You can't coach all the intangibles, and he showed in that game he had a lot of good quarterback intangibles."
You've stayed in touch with Matt over the last few years and followed his progress from afar. Does anything surprise you about how he has developed to this point in his career?
GK:"Not really. Like I mentioned, I saw something special in that game in his second year. And even in the other times he got to play in Atlanta, which were limited, he made the most of those opportunities. So I saw a guy improving despite the fact that he wasn't having a whole lot of reps, and that's hard to do. When I saw him come here to this offense, knowing what Gary's background is as far as teaching great quarterback play, I was very happy for him. It was a natural fit, and he's really grown with it. He had the injury bugaboo for those two years, but other than that, he's made great progress in his career."
After spending the last nine seasons as an offensive coordinator, what do you hope to bring to this offense?
GK:"Hopefully, the fact that I've been around some very good coaches and quarterbacks. I don't know how many guys can say they were lucky enough to be in a room with Bill Walsh, Steve Mariucci, Mike Shanahan – I was in training camp with Mike for three years. I coached Steve Young. I was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for Jeff Garcia, who went to the Pro Bowl three times when we were in San Francisco. Mike Vick, a different type of quarterback, we got him to rush for 1,000 yards for the first time in history. So I've been around some very talented and unique guys and tried to coach through their traits, and so hopefully I'll be able to do the same thing here and know my role is to help develop the quarterbacks."
What do you think about backups Dan Orlovsky and John David Booty?
GK:"I'm glad you brought that up, because it's not only Matt that I'm here to help develop. It's also the two younger quarterbacks who are on the roster. I know some coaches who had Dan in the past and really liked him when he was in Detroit, so I'm excited to get to work with him. He had a couple of mistakes last preseason that made you go, 'Alright, he wishes he had that one back,' but you saw good improvement through the four games. And then John David Booty, I coached him for a week at the Senior Bowl two years ago when I was with the Oakland Raiders. I've talked to both, and they're both excited to get going here. It's going to be good to work with them."
Kyle Shanahan obviously had a lot of responsibility with the Texans' passing game as offensive coordinator. His replacement, Rick Dennison, has a strong background in the running game. What do you see as your role in this offense in terms of how involved you'll be in the passing game?
GK:"I'll assist Rick, like any other assistant coach. The area of emphasis for me will be helping out in the passing game, but whatever Rick wants me to do or Gary wants me to do, I'll follow the lead on. It helps that I have a pretty good knowledge and background of the same type of offense, so we can talk the same talk. I was with Alex Gibbs for three years in Atlanta, so the zone run game was very similar, and the play-action and the movement plays off of that are very similar. So it'll be my area of emphasis to help out a little bit in the passing game, but I'd like to say that I've got some background in the run game, too."
Schaub led the league in passing yards this season and won the Pro Bowl MVP award. What are your hopes for him in 2010 and beyond?
GK:"I don't care how many years a guy's been in the league or how much success he's had, I learned a great lesson early in my coaching career when I was about 32 years old in San Francisco. Steve Young was the quarterback coming off a Super Bowl MVP game, and he made sure to pull me aside at one time and he said, 'Greg, I don't care if I'm older than you, I don't care if I've played more ball than you. You're the coach, I'm the player. You need to watch me and critique me and make me better.' And that's what my role here is, to make sure that I can improve Matt's game, whether it's through footwork, decision-making, timing, accuracy. So with Matt, along with the other quarterbacks, that's what I'm excited to get a chance to do."