The Texans practiced Friday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of the players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakCB Jason AllenOLB Connor BarwinTE Owen DanielsTE Joel DreessenCB Johnathan JosephILB DeMeco RyansDE Antonio Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on his response to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down his interview with Tampa Bay) "Actually I think I was the last one to know. I was so tied into my game plan and working last night. No, it's good I mean, it's great to have him, what he's done here and be a part of this organization, and you're always looking for stability in this league from a standpoint of trying to be successful in the long haul, so you're sitting here with (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Rick (Smith) and Wade and (special teams coordinator) Joe Marciano, you want stability in everything that you're doing. It's a great feeling when I found out."
(on if he expects other teams to pursue defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "You never know. I mean those things, they go through (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Rick (Smith) when people submit requests to talk to your coaches and I'll tell you like I always told you, you want the best for all your coaches. I mean, these guys work their tail off for you. This business is like any other business, guys want opportunities to move up and to do bigger things and when they're busting their tail for me and (Owner) Bob McNair and Rick Smith, then we should support their opportunities that they have in their career. But the fact that Wade has chosen to stay here or make that decision, that's a great one for this organization so like I said, it's part of the business, you deal with it and like I said, it was a good day."
(on the difference between the Texans defense now compared to their last game against Baltimore) "Yeah, I think, I don't know if I'm totally right on this, I want to say we came out of Pittsburgh and went to Baltimore, something like that. Those games were pretty close together. We'd lost Mario (Williams), we were going to work Brooks (Reed) at Will, then we moved him to Sam, so you're right. That was all kind of going on with our team and Baltimore played very well when we went there last time and we started playing pretty consistent defense from that point on. I don't know if that's the day we went on the next seven weeks to win. Am I right? But we went in there and played a good football team for three quarters pretty tough, but they got after us in the fourth and deserved to win. It's been a process in a lot of phases in our team as far as guys coming in and playing and us having to adjust so that's been part of why we're here today is because we've adjusted well."
(on the players saying the way they played against Baltimore was unacceptable) "Yeah, I agree with that. You know, we've had some times where we've watched the film together about where we're heading and our direction and what we're doing. I know one day I sat in the meeting room with the defense and when the meeting was over, when they got through, I remember standing up and I told them that I thought we had one of the top defenses in the game and that regardless of our issues and what was going on that we had the capability of playing that way and I think we've done that consistently throughout the season."
(on how QB T.J. Yates will handle the environment of Saturday's game and how much the running game can help him) "Well, it helps any quarterback. It's something that we have to do effective to be successful and win games. As I say all the time, you never know how a game's going to go, but T.J.'s got a lot of guys going with him and it's a big stage for a very young man, we all know that, but he's got a good football team to go play with so we just need him to focus in on his job, protect the football, and let everyone around him play and that boils down to us finding a way to run the football."
(on RB Arian Foster's season) "Yeah, it was not the best of starts, and he dealt with the hamstring through camp, and then, we were trying to figure out exactly when was the time to bring him back. I think we brought him back in Miami probably a little soon if I'm right. That seems like three years ago. Then, we sat him in New Orleans the following week, but once he came back for Pittsburgh, I think was his first full game back, he's been pretty solid throughout the course of the season. If you look at what he's done, and he's really only played in 12 football games this year, 11, 12 football games, it's been remarkable. He's a hell of a player, and he's a three-down player, never leaves the field. That's the most important thing."
(on the importance of TEs Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen) "Yeah, they give us flexibility offensively and what we can be – a two-back team, a one-back team. Owen and Joel both do a pretty good job on the line of scrimmage. They both obviously can catch the ball, make plays, and then James (Casey) has added to the group, so it's always kind of been a little bit of strength of our team here over the course of the time that I've been here. That group of players, I think (tight ends) coach (Brian) Pariani does a great job with them, and it's no different right now. We count on them big-time every weekend."
(on how much of an impact FB James Casey's absence had on the running game in the regular season game against Baltimore) "I got to give them credit from that standpoint. We were in an adjustment phase there because we had just lost James, and I can't remember which game that one was, Pittsburgh if I'm right, so we were adjusting with Vick (Lawrence Vickers), but Vick came on and played extremely well for us throughout the course of this season. Going in there, the run game against these guys, you know it's going to be tough, but I keep using the word effective. That's the key. We've got to be in a type of football game where we stay committed to running the football and find a way to be effective before the day's over."
(on this week of practice) "Well, first off, we made practice very difficult on our players this week. I think that was important. We're going into a very tough environment, so we made our environment very difficult. We showed them a lot of looks, so from a preparation standpoint, we really challenged them. They've been excellent this week. They've been great in the classroom. Our effort's been very good on the field and the focus. They know what they're fixing to face, so I think it's been very good. I mean it's as good as it was last week. New challenge, going on the road, but it's just as good as last week."
(on how different the team looks now compared to earlier in the season) "I think if when we started Matt (Schaub), had we said, 'This is what it's going to look like at the end of the year,' we would have thought we were facing some very difficult times, but what has happened is we've overcome adversity. We believe in each other. We found a way to win. We found different ways to win as a team, offense, defense, special teams, and that's what has given us confidence in my opinion moving forward. I think we show up on Sunday saying, 'We don't know how we're going to win today, but we're going to find a way to win,' and there's a lot to be said for that. This week will be no different, and we got to go in there and play well in all three phases, and I don't know how it's going to happen, but we got to find a way to make it happen."
(on the importance of the kicking game) "I think it's huge. It really is, and we got two kickers that kicked a lot in this league, and they've been darn good the last month for us. Return game, you never know how many returns you're going to get your hands on, but if we do get our hands on some, I think Jacoby (Jones) and Danieal (Manning) will give us a chance to make some big plays."
CB Jason Allen
(on the team responding well to injuries) "Well adversity has definitely made us stronger as a group. The defensive unit had a lot of guys go down, playing with a backup quarterback all the way down to our third quarterback, so it's definitely made us stronger, made us come together as a team and as a unit. Guys are playing confident and we're playing very well right now."
(on his reaction to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down the interview with Tampa Bay) "I don't think anyone's been really paying attention to it that much. I think our main focus has been on Baltimore and the job that we have at stake there this weekend."
(on if there's one concern in particular he has with Baltimore) "Well we feel like Ray Rice, the offense is really predicated around him. We feel like if we stop him, that can limit a lot of our problems, but they also have a good quarterback and some good wide receivers as well that we have to keep under control and limit their catches and limit their yards after the catch."
OLB Connor Barwin
(on if he was surprised about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' decision to cancel his interview with Tampa Bay) "I guess I was a little bit surprised because I think from what you guys were talking about, it does sound like he does want that opportunity to be a head coach again and I was a little bit surprised, but I'm happy about it."
(on how he feels about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips being with the Texans again next season) "I'm really excited about that. With the defense we have, what we're able to do this year to have another year with him, the system to get better, have an off-season with him and (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) is obviously very exciting for this team and this defense."
(on if it helps to know that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips isn't interviewing anymore and if that ever was a distraction) "No, I don't think there ever was a distraction, I think we're all adults and understand the situation. I don't think any of us were distracted, so I don't think it makes a difference, but I think we're all excited that he'll be back."
TE Owen Daniels
(on what it means to him to have ILB Ray Lewis say how talented he is) "Well, it's all about respect and to have respect from that guy who's been do it so long, that's good and we have a lot of respect for those guys, him especially. So, it's good that he sees that out of us."
(on how critical the tight ends are in the upcoming game) "I think it always is and this week especially. They've got two really good linebackers in (Jarret) Johnson and (Terrell) Suggs and a lot of our plays, running plays, typically go out there and we're going to have to hold up against those guys in protection and be able to get open in the pass game too. It's always, we're always involved in the offense whether we're catching the ball or if we're having to block for Arian (Foster) and Ben (Tate), but this week it's magnified."
(on what it would be like to win this upcoming game) "That would be another week, a chance to play in the championship, and one step closer to the ultimate goal. It's just, we're all in this, we're ready for it. We know it's going to be a big challenge for us, but I think we've prepared as well as we have, as well as we could. Coach has thrown everything at us so we're ready going in on Sunday."
TE Joel Dreessen
(on if he is just thinking about S Bernard Pollard) "Nah, there's a lot of stuff I'm thinking about. I might mix it up with Bernard a little bit, but I'm thinking about one play at a time really. That's what it's going to take."
(on how the team looks different than when they played in the regular season game against Baltimore) "Yeah, and a lot of guys have been hurt. A lot of guys have been put on injured reserve, and all season long, people have been telling us we can't do it. We can't keep winning with all these injuries. We can't win a playoff game with all these injuries. Well, we're not supposed to go to Baltimore and win a playoff game either, but we're going to go there and we're going to put up a fight to say the least."
(on his experience with cold weather games and how it's changed for him) "I don't think it changes all that much. When you start mixing in wind and some precipitation, that can change a little bit as far as ball handling and trajectory and that sort of thing, but football's football."
CB Johnathan Joseph
(on how the team looks different than when they played in the regular season game against Baltimore) "Yeah, that almost seems like it was last year, it was so long ago, but we've improved some since that game, and I'm sure they have as well. I think this time around, it'll be a different look from both of us, and we're just looking forward just going out and being 1-0."
(on his feelings about the media hype over Baltimore's defense despite Houston having the second-ranked defense) "Well, they did it for the last ten years or whatever, so that kind of speaks for itself. This year, we made a jump of the difference from last year to this year, but for us, none of that really matters. All of that is out the window. The only thing that counts for us is the game, who has the best defense on Sunday."
(on the difference having OLB Connor Barwin on the edge makes) "I think overall, those guys have just been applying pressure all year long, whoever's been in there. Just for us, we have to hold up in coverage and just getting that extra half a second, whatever it may be, just so that they can get to the quarterback. Those things work hand-in-hand and step together."
ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on if the defense is upset that they're not getting the same attention as Baltimore's defense) "No, it doesn't matter because at the end of the day, the game has to be played. We continue to go out and have to prove ourselves each week and we don't expect any of that to change. We're excited, we're always the underdog. That's fine. I like being underdogs. I like people not counting on us to go get it done. It really fuels the fire of this team and it keeps us motivated, keeps us hungry to go and get it done, prove everyone wrong."
(on his reaction to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down the interview with Tampa Bay) "Like I said, I'm excited that he's sticking here with us because it was selfish but we wanted to keep him here. He's done a great job here for us. We love him and he's great to be around, great person, great coach, so we were excited to keep him here."
(on what he said to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "I didn't say anything to him. He didn't bring up the job to us, so it was nothing to say. It was just good news to hear in passing, he turned down an interview. It's great news to hear."
DE Antonio Smith
(on his reaction to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down the interview with Tampa Bay) "I'm happy about it. You don't want to say it and everybody just walked around like it wasn't a reality, but nobody wants him to leave, especially not yet. We still got some winning to do. On the other hand, I can't fault him for wanting to take his game up another level. I think everybody knows that Wade is a head coach at heart and that eventually he's going to want to go do that. So, when it's time for that to happen, it's going to happen, but for right now, I'm going to take what I can get."
(on what it will mean if the Texans win on Sunday) "It'll mean that we just took another step closer to our goal. It would mean a lot for this franchise. I think it'll just pull us closer together, the city. Probably all the naysayers, they'll probably jump on the bandwagon and start fueling us and things like that. But this win will probably be, no, will be the biggest win ever in franchise history."
(on if he mind tricked defensive coordinator Wade Phillips into staying) "Yeah, when he was asleep, he didn't even know I was there. I spoke very silent ninja words to him. It shoots and hits right at the top of the medulla oblongata and it made him do exactly what I wanted him to do."