Texans head coach Gary Kuibak and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips answered questions from the media on Monday at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on Wade Phillips being named defensive coordinator) "It's very exciting. He and I got started on the football part today. Just for me to sit in the room with him with all his experience, to hear some of the things and see some of the things that he's seen in some of our players, it was very exciting for me as the coach of this football team. We are looking forward to working with him and have a lot of respect for him as a person. We as a staff are all very lucky to be working with a man that has been successful and been in this league for a long time and can make us better."
(on how much it helps that he's known defensive coordinator Wade Phillip since his playing days in Denver) "We've never worked together. I was a player and he was a coach. We've always had a great relationship outside football. Just to sit down and talk football with somebody that's been doing it so long for me, it's exciting. It's just been a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to learn a great deal from him. He brings a wealth of knowledge that not only helps me, but helps the rest of the coaching staff."
(on what will be the biggest challenge to switching over to a 3-4 defense) "What's great about it is that he doesn't fret over it very much. He feels very good about it looking at our guys. Is it a big change? It sounds like it, but I think when you start talking about the way he plays his 3-4 it's reduced a lot of times which is a four-man front, so there is a lot of carryover there. But he sees a lot of different roles for some of our guys. Just getting the work and getting it all put in is probably will be the thing that we are looking forward to the most."
(on how soon does he want the defensive coaching staff put together) "I'd like it done right now, but I think it's going to take some time. The reason being, there are a lot of things going on around the league right now and a lot of guys are tied up that may become free. The one thing that we both agreed on this morning, we don't want to make a mistake. So we will take our time if we have to. There are some guys that we are very interested in and we will be patient with and see what happen with the other placed that they're at."
(on if defensive coordinator Wade Phillips thinks he has a nose tackle that can fit the 3-4 defense) "The biggest thing I think he said in the meeting was that everybody thinks you need a big guy to run a 3-4 defense. He played with smaller guys and has been successful. What (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) tells you all the time is that he'll find out what he has and he'll fit this defense for what he has and we'll find a way to stop people. So he's got a lot of confidence in himself."
(on determining if new players are needed to fit the new defense) "That's the biggest challenge right now. When we get through with this week and taking what we have and then him putting them in the right spots. We need to walk out of here at the end of this week saying, 'Okay, here is where we see these guys fitting.' Now, how deep do we have to go in free agency? How deep do we have to go in the draft to make sure that we got depth and we feel good about our starters? So I think we got to get this done first."
(on why he wouldn't want to invest heavily in free agency) "We got to get better. As I said, we definitely got to get better and that's across the board. In free agency, if there is a corner or a defensive lineman, if that helps us, we got to look at those options. I think we all agree we go to look right now at what we have and see where we are going to fit those guys before we start talking what our biggest need is."
(on what would he tell defensive coordinator Wade Phillips about the youth of Texans secondary) "I don t know if there is just one move. I don't think that there's one player. If I told you right now if we sign this guy will make us better right now. I think that we got to look at a variety of things. There are possibilities with some of our players that are in the secondary actually moving. That's something that we've talked about. Like I said, we've been at it one day. We've watched about five football games and I've got his opinion on those. I want to sit there and watch all 16 and we'll sort it out as we go."
(on where LB Brian Cushing may play in a 3-4 defense) "A lot of discussions about that. (Defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) sees a lot of different things, him doing a lot of different things, but nothing's locked in at this point."
(on what concerns him most with the labor uncertainty going forward) "Somebody asked this in the press conference about the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) stuff, is that a concern? I would agree with (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips): at this point right now, it's not. You hope it all gets worked out. If it lingers on and it goes all the way to mid-summer and we can't see our players, then it becomes a big concern. But the thing that I like, and this was a big selling point to me when I talked with Wade, is the confidence he has in his teaching, how he thinks what he does is simple and he can get it done fast. When he's got that much confidence in where we're fixing to go, that's good enough for me."
(on whether he asked for permission to interview other teams' coaches) "We have asked to talk to a couple, but have not gotten back word yet. I'd rather not talk about those guys."
(on whether he's concerned about losing offensive coordinator Rick Dennison) "I'm happy for him. He interviews tomorrow, I think; he flies out tomorrow. He deserves the opportunity. He's done a good job in this league and I know it's a big day for him, so we wish him all the best; and if he gets it, we're happy for him, and if not, we're lucky he's back."
(on how much it helps him to have defensive coordinator Wade Phillips around as a former head coach) "It's huge. I mean, all his experience, and y'all heard how confident he is in what he's doing moving forward, so with his confidence comes my confidence. To me, to have him to pull from in many areas of the game, not just in his expertise, I'm really looking forward to that."
(on whether he'll lean on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for help in personnel decisions) "I'll be leaning real hard. He's been to a lot more rodeos than me. He's been doing this a long time; he's been very successful. We as a staff need to all lean on Wade."
(on whether he expects to re-sign any of the Texans' free agents in the near future) "I don't know. We haven't really gotten to that point right now. Right now, we're still in a self-evaluation process and some of that will be sorted out here over the next few weeks."
(on what stood out the most during his interview with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "I go back to his confidence in looking at our players. Wade had looked at every game we had played before he came in, and to listen to him talk about our players, what he saw in our players, I mean, it was amazing. He had them all down pat. And just talking to us about what he could do, what he could bring to the table, and knowing what he brings to the table just alone from all his experience in this league, it was a very easy fit."
(on when he expects a new labor agreement to be reached) "You're asking the wrong guy. I have no idea."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips(opening statement) "I've always been a Texan. Now I'm a real Texan. Being a part of this organization is a dream come true for me. To be in Houston, it couldn't be better for me right now. I'm going to do my best and work the hardest to make this thing be where everybody here in Houston, I know, wants it to be. I'm looking forward to it and I'm ready to get started."
(on the outlook of his defensive staff) "Well right now we're trying to put a staff together defensively. We've still got some places to fill. (Head coach) Gary (Kubiak) and I are going to interview some guys and we're continually talking about it."
(on what he will do to improve the pass coverage) "That all fits together. I do think the pass rush has a lot to do with it too. It's easy to blame it on one end of the ball, but it's a whole group. I think all of our players know that. It's everybody's responsibility. It's the rush and the coverage. We're going to be real sound technique-wise in what we do and how we do it. That's the way I've always done it. I think you take it one step at a time. Our philosophy has always been to put in a coverage and work it until you really get it and then go to another coverage, rather than missing some of the details or the things you need to have to be successful in each coverage. Sometimes it takes a little longer and I'm talking about training camp and so forth, but I've had teams where we put in the coverage one week and we weren't ready the next week to go on. In others, in three or four days they were ready. A lot of these guys have played, certainly, different coverages and different ways of playing, but we really emphasize technique and fundamentals in each coverage."
(on how he feels about the youth and if they will be harder to teach given their experience) "One thing you have to do in this league is to play the best players. If they are young, you play them. If they're older players that are the best ones, you play them. Youth is really not an excuse in my opinion. It's playing your best players and making sure that they can play that coverage the way you want it played to utilize their abilities—that's coaching."
(on if he agrees with Texans owner Bob McNair when he says that there were little things to be done and it wouldn't take much personnel turnover) "Whatever Bob says is right. I agree with exactly what he said. I have been in this situation before, coming in with a new team and the questions about whether they had the personnel or not. Usually when I went to a new team, it was because they didn't do well the year before, in fact, in most cases. In my experience in that area is that yes, we have the personnel to improve and do better. Do we want more bigger, stronger, faster players? Sure. That's what you always want. You're not going to have all-stars at every position, no matter where you are. You have to make the average players good and the good players better. Also, turning good players to great players, that's part of it too."
(on his expectations for DE Mario Williams) "Well we have a few players that have been in the Pro Bowl and those guys certainly have outstanding talent and that's what Mario has. You want to utilize your best players. If you put the pressure on them to play well and you put them in positions that they can utilize their ability and that's what we plan to do."
(on his biggest concern going into this) "I don't know that I have a concern. We have a plan of what we want to do. You still have to see what they can do and try to utilize their talents. I've only seen them on film. So getting to know how smart they are, how quickly they learn things, what kind of strength they have and what weakness each player has, I still need to learn those things. It's all part of the process."
(on if he definitely will play a 3-4 defense) "Yes. I think so. I've been successful playing in a 3-4 for a long time. I've gone into situations where they played 4-3 before and we've been successful very quickly. All it is, is your front seven. The coverages are all the same, whether you're in the 4-3 or 3-4. We had problems in coverage here. That really doesn't affect the coverage. What I think you get more in a 3-4 and I think our record bears it out that you get more pressure in a 3-4 and that should help your back end."
(on their biggest needs to fill a 3-4) "I don't know exactly. Gary and I are looking at film now to go over what the players can exactly do and what they can't do. Until we get them out on the field, we'll have an idea right now and then get them on the field and see what they can do."
(on the expectations to win right away) "I haven't been in many places where they expected to win quickly (laughs)."
(on what he thinks they need that isn't here) "Again, I think I have to know the players better to specifically say each position because it depends on where you put them. We went to San Diego and they had the first pick in the draft and they expected to do better and we did. We went 12-4 and won the division. We used some players, in fact one of them came from here, (LB) Steve Foley played here and didn't play a whole lot. He had 10 or 12 sacks or whatever he had and we had a pretty good football team that year. I just don't think you can say definitely what you need right now until you know for sure what guys can do. I do think you always need to look for good players, whether that's through the draft or free agency."
(on his relationship with defensive line coach Bill Kollar and if he plans on keeping him on his staff) "Yeah, he's definitely a part of this staff. I've had a lot of coaches that I've come in with that have only coached 4-3. In fact, the whole group in San Diego had only coached 4-3 before I got there. A good football coach is like a good player, you can fit them in."
(on what he was able to do in Buffalo to help DE Bruce Smith transition from the 4-3 to 3-4) "I told him to 'sic 'em'. You know? 'Go get 'em Bruce.' Your real good players, that's what you do with them. It's not as easy to do as it sounds, but actually you've got to let them go. You've got to let them use their ability, give them opportunities to go and make plays where somebody else has to cover for them in some cases. Your best players, you have to feature them and you have to try and put them in situations to succeed. That's part of the chess game I guess and part of how you set it up. When you have a great one, you try to utilize their ability. Bruce was a special, special player. I've had two of them. (DE) Reggie White and Bruce Smith, who were by far better than any of the guys I had coached before or after, but I'm hoping to coach one here."
(on how similar DE Mario Williams' transition to playing in a 3-4 is to Bruce Smith's) "We're not talking about a three-technique. We're talking about a guy that we're gonna let rush the passer, penetrate. Movement-wise, I think he's (DE Mario Williams) got really good movement. We'll probably move him and that's what we did with Bruce Smith. You can look at a 3-4, where a guy plays inside all the time and you look at one where they play outside and go all the time. He's going to be one of them. Elvin Bethea we had way back here, did a pretty good job here, was a pretty good 3-4 defensive end. I think he's in the Hall of Fame now. He was a similar guy to Bruce in that he could rush up field really well, but he had a lot of great movement. So whatever Mario can do, we're going to try and utilize that."
(on the personal significance of returning to work and live in Houston) "Houston is special to me. I grew up in this area, I went to college here and my first NFL coaching job was here. At that time, when we were in the playoffs every year and going to the AFC Championship game, I thought I was a great coach and that we'd be here the whole time, but it didn't work out that way. But I went 360 and came back to where I really wanted to be."
(on if DT Amobi Okoye will fit his system, given that he has coached some larger nose tackles) "Well, I've coached some small ones, too. Greg Kragen made the Pro Bowl at Denver, was real under-sized and Jay Ratliff isn't that big either. Jay Ratliff is probably (DT) Amobi's (Okoye) size. Again, we played different techniques with the different guys. Ted Washington, who was huge, we played him more in the middle. Some of the other guys we played on the edges more and some of them we had them stunt a lot and others we made them play more of technique player. It depends on what they can do."
(on if he has talked to general manager Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak about what his role in the draft is going to be) "I haven't talked about that, but I've always participated in the draft and given my opinion. I'm sure I'll be able to do that here."
(on how many years his contract is for) "We really don't go into contracts and what those things are. But I'm happy to be here and they took care of me money-wise, so I'm happy. My wife is happy."
(on if being a defensive coordinator was something he wanted to do next after leaving Dallas and if he feels like he'll have another opportunity to be a head coach or if that is still a desire) "I didn't know. Usually when you get fired, and I was 29-19 at Buffalo, which I think they would take right now, but at the time I was fired from there. I didn't get many opportunities then and I think it's similar. It's perception sometimes more than reality in that I've won a lot of games in this league and have a real high winning percentage. But I don't see me being the head coach again because of the perception overall."
(on what he thinks his perception is overall of him as a head coach) "Again, when you get fired, it's usually, 'Hey, he was fired because he can't win.' Well, it wasn't because I couldn't win, maybe couldn't win enough. I didn't win enough at Buffalo. I didn't win enough at (Dallas). You know, 34-22, or whatever it was, a lot of people would take as head coach, but that's the way it is."
(on what he's seen from the Texans' defensive line) "I was happy with the defensive line. When you play a 4-3, you have more defensive linemen. I don't think we have enough to play a 4-3 and rotate all those people and have enough good players but I do think we have enough for a3-4 group that you could have all pretty solid players. That's what you're looking for."
(on DTs Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell playing nose tackle) "I think they can play football and if you play over a guard, usually you can play over the center. The center has to center the ball. It won't be a big change for them, I don't think; any of those guys, (DT) Amobi's (Okoye) the same way. I mean, they played over the guard. Nose guard is a little easier to play than playing over a guard all the time."
(on the challenge of playing in the AFC and if he'll bring a more physical attitude to the defense) "When you lose, they always outplayed you or outcoached you or whatever. I see a pretty physical team. I see some good licks, defensively. I saw some really good hits in the games I watched. The one thing I saw, and I want to compliment those guys for, is those guys played hard. They pursued the ball, they were after the ball ever play. I realize the results weren't great, but that's the first thing you're looking for as a coach, is great effort. I thought the staff here did a good job with that, defensively."
(on if he has spoken with any of the players) "Not yet. Well, I did see (LB DeMeco) Ryans this morning and I talked to him a little bit. But I will talk to some of them."
(on his schedule moving forward and having to coach in the East-West Shrine game) "I'll be here the rest of the week working on specific things we need to work on as far as working on our defense and starting that process. But also, I'll be going to the East-West Game next week. I'm coaching in the East-West Game. I'm committed to doing that, so I'll do that. But the East-West Game does give you an opportunity to work with college players. I think, sometimes working with the Senior Bowl, you get an idea on some of those players of the insight of how smart they are, what kind of competitors they are. I get the same opportunities with the East-West Game. So I think it will help us some, as far as scouting the players, knowing them. I know the times we coached the Senior Bowl, we found out a lot of things about players that you probably wouldn't know in the draft or some other teams would know, so I'm looking forward to this."
(on how implementing a new defense will be affected if there isn't a full training camp because of a labor dispute) "Not as much. We've always been able to teach things quickly. I believe the players that have played for us will tell you that we can implement it pretty quickly. Part of it's being a player-friendly defense in that we want them to know their assignments quickly. I take care of all the complications. I take care of the complicated stuff as far as how we get it done and teach to them pretty quickly. It hasn't been a problem and I don't foresee it being one."
(on working with head coach Gary Kubiak) "I'm excited to work with (head coach) Gary (Kubiak). I've always admired Gary as a player and what a tremendous player he was in that he was always ready to play and how smart he was. And then as a coach, the same way. Like I said, his teams, they're going to play hard and they're gonna keep fighting the whole time. That, and I think his offense is as hard to stop as anybody we played in the last few years. Those things put together, I'm looking forward to being with Gary."
(on how Nnamdi Asomugha would fit in his scheme if he came to Houston) "We're really not allowed by the League and I will not talk about players under contract with another team. I have some money in my pocket, but I want to keep it."