A day after his Texans beat the St. Louis Rams 16-13 on the road, head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media during his weekly press conference at Reliant Stadium.
Head coach Gary Kubiak(on T Duane Brown's knee injury) "They did an MRI. We don't see any more than we saw the first time. Obviously, he has an issue that's causing him not to be at his best. Hopefully, he can play through it. He's been struggling, playing for us hurt. We'll take it a day at a time, but there's nothing new that developed coming out of the game. He's just really having a hard time sticking that foot in the ground."
(on T Rashad Butler's replacing Brown) "He played good. He played very well. He hasn't played a lot of football. He got an opportunity to go in there and pass protect a great deal and really gave us a lot of confidence if Duane is not able to go as we move into this week against the great pass rushers he's fixing to play against. It was very encouraging."
(on LB Brian Cushing's status) "His knee is bothering him—the one that's been bothering him. He got a pretty good shot to the ribs. X-rays were all okay, so it's really just day-to-day with him. He's just beat up. He's been pretty reliable as far as us counting on him and probably this week will be tougher than any, but if he can go, he'll definitely be there."
(on some of the players speaking up at halftime) "It wasn't like somebody got up and held a conference or something up there. It was one of those deals where if you've got the right guys on your team and you go in there as a coach, I didn't have to say much. They were on each other pretty hard about the mistakes they were making and talking about playing with more emotion coming out for the second half. They were disappointed in how they had played in the first half but they knew they had a game to win, and that was the most important thing. It was encouraging for me to hear what was going on in there and how important it was to them."
(on who stood up to talk) "I couldn't really tell you. Between our quarterback and (LB) DeMeco (Ryans), those are a couple guys, but I think a lot of guys were very vocal at halftime in what we needed to do to go out there and win that football game."
(on what he would say to the fans that say the Texans played down to the level of their opponent and it was an ugly win) "Well, there's no such thing as an ugly win. A win is a win. I don't think we played down to anything. I just think we played sloppy. We gave our opponent a chance. Statistically, we outplayed our opponent very much so, but when you go out there and drop a couple big balls or turn the ball over on the 10-yard line or jump offsides three times in one drive—which is the only drive they really scored on—those things add up. We were sloppy as a team. We weren't very sharp, but it's hard to win in this league and we had to figure out a way to do it yesterday and regardless of how it happens, we were able to get it done."
(on what the chess match will be between defensive coordinator Frank Bush and Miami offensive coordinator Dan Henning on Sunday) "Well, to start off with, we're going to have to stop the run. They're a very physical football team. I'm sure they're coming out of yesterday's game with Tennessee saying, 'If we wouldn't have turned the ball over, we're going to win that game.' They had three turnovers. I'm not sure if they had a fourth, but usually when that happens, the teams go right back to what got them there. With these guys, that's running the ball. We're going to have to stop (RB) Ricky (Williams). We have to stop the run, and then our big challenge on offense, it'll be the best pass rush we've faced in a few weeks. So we've got our issues on both sides."
(on if TE James Casey will get more opportunities and how the tight ends performed against the Rams) "(TE) Joel (Dreessen) played 50-something plays. James played about 12 plays. Joel struggled, he dropped a couple balls early but came back and played very well in the second half. James did his job. What I think you're seeing from us is the fact that we only have two healthy tight ends. Some portion of some of the things that we normally do, we've kind of gotten away from because let's face it, if you go spend a lot of time on a two-tight end offense in practice and you go in a game with two of them and something happens to one, you've wasted a lot of time. I think that James' time on the field has just been more warranted from how many guys we have at the tight end position, but he's doing his job on special teams. He did a good job when he went in there."
(on if the red zone struggles yesterday were related to struggles running the ball) "When I look at the red zone, not an excuse, but if we don't fumble and we catch ball, then we're probably sitting here saying, 'Boy, we were pretty good in the red zone.' We should've been three-of-four the way I look at it, but we weren't. Does the run game contribute to that? Yes, it does. We're struggling to run the ball and then field gets smaller down there, so coverage gets tougher. So yeah, that's adding to it, but I don't think it was the deciding factor on why we were one-for-four yesterday. I think we still could've been effective."
(on if he plans to give RB Arian Foster another chance this week) "Oh yeah. Yeah, I definitely will. Like I said, after the game I was disappointed because I had really big plans for him as far as getting on the field and doing a lot yesterday. It did not stem from one play. It stemmed from some practice and a play. He's a young player, but he'll go right back to his duties this week. He's very talented. He can help us win this weekend, but he has to have a good week and be ready to do his job."
(on if they talk about their slim playoff hopes) "Not really. I mean, they know. They listen enough. If we don't win it doesn't matter, so bottom line, we're in an elimination game, really, this weekend because whoever doesn't come out of this game victorious has no chance. Our guys understand that, so it's a very, very big game and Christmas week, a lot of things going on, so we've got to keep our focus and get ready to go down there. We're going to have to play very well as a team. This is a good football team."
(on why the Texans have been successful on the road this season) "I just think we've been more consistent. I don't think we've been on the road but once this year and really just played real poorly on both sides. We've been pretty consistent, we've been in every game, our defense has been very solid and they have been for the last 10 weeks. Good defense keeps you in every football game. So I just think we've been more consistent as a group."
(on how you keep S Bernard Pollard focused but still passionate) "That's tough. He and (Rams RB Steven) Jackson went at it for about three plays in a row and it just kind of came to a head there, but he knows he's got to keep his poise. We can't lose him as a football team; he's got to stay on the field. I brought him over to me and talked to him about how important it was that he continue to do his job and keep his poise, and he was able to go back in and do that. I want players to play with emotion. I want players to play with that type of want-to and that type of fight, but at the same time, you've got a responsibility to not hurt your team."
(on if it's a distraction that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been rumored to leave the Texans in the offseason if his father, Mike Shanahan, gets a head coaching job) "I don't think so. I think we all know that's part of football, and as far as Kyle – (or) any coach I have, I want what's best for them in their coaching career. But I think we've all known all along that if Mike (Shanahan) gets back in the business here in the next year, which it looks like he will, that his son coaching for him someday is very important to him. I've known that, and that's fine. Kyle has done a great job and will continue to do that. We'll see what happens. You never know what happens in this business, but we all want the best for each other."
(on if it would be tough for the team to have four offensive coordinators in five years) "It's just another adjustment. That won't change what we do offensively or what we teach or what we want to be. It'd just be another adjustment. That's part of coaching."
(on why the team has been good at protecting QB Matt Schaub) "I want to say he's thrown like 90-something passes without a sack now in a row, so that's been pretty impressive. We've protected him pretty good all year. You've got to give (RB) Chris (Brown) a lot of credit in the pass protection on the job he does from a back standpoint, but I just think Matt's playing really well right now. He's in a groove, he's seeing the field, the ball is gone. We're doing a lot of quick stuff. He moved around really good yesterday. I think it's a lot of credit to how he's playing. Obviously, we're helping him up front, but I think our quarterback's probably playing as good as he's ever played."
(on if QB Matt Schaub's ability to get rid of the ball is part of why he hasn't been sacked recently) "Yeah, just getting rid of it. Like you saw him yesterday, he must have thrown the ball away three times just avoiding hits. When you've got confidence that you can come back the next down and make the next play, that's usually where you get to as a quarterback, so I see growth from that standpoint in him."
(on how he evaluates the team's return game this season) "Our punt returns have been pretty darn good. Yesterday, there were no opportunities for (WR) Jacoby (Jones), the way the ball was punted, basically. I don't think he fielded any of the four, if I'm correct. Our kickoff return has been a weakness for us on special teams. It has not been up to what we'd like it to be, but I think we're very capable. I think we have two returners that are very capable of big plays, so I'm all for one of them having one this week, I'll tell you that."
(on if he and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have talked about the possibility of Shanahan's leaving) "No, we don't. You know that's part of the business, you hear what's going around or this or that, you can't help but know stuff like that, but we don't talk about stuff like that. He's doing a tremendous job for us; he's done a great job with (QB) Matt (Schaub). Those things work themselves out. I'm just happy to have him right now, he's doing a heck of a job."
(on if WR André Davis will see more balls thrown his way) "He's going to have to put a rope around No. 80 (WR Andre Johnson) to get him off the field. I mean, he won't come off the field. He happened to sneak off the field for a couple of plays and André (Davis) got himself a catch. But no, André's been doing his job. There haven't been many balls to go around with all five of those guys, and I think probably if Andre (Johnson) knew the ball was coming to him on that play, he probably wouldn't have come off the field on that one, but we got him. We snuck one by him."