Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media during a Monday press conference at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak(on what moves he made today) "We've been checking out players. We did that all morning. I released four coaches today: (defensive coordinator) Frank Bush, (defensive backs coach) David Gibbs, (assistant linebackers coach) Robert Saleh and (linebackers coach) Johnny Holland. Obviously, we're going to go in another direction defensively. It's a tough day. I appreciate all the hard work they've put in, the job that they did and the effort that they put forth. It's a tough day from that standpoint. We're going to move forward and we've got some serious things to fix on the defensive side of the ball. We're going to move forward to try to do that as quickly as we can."
(on his reaction to Texans owner Bob McNair bringing him back for a sixth season) "It's a tough day, really, to be honest with you. That's a very positive thing for me and I'm excited about that. I probably don't show much excitement right now because of some of the other things I've had to deal with today. I appreciate Bob's confidence in me. We've had some great conversations over the past few weeks. As I told y'all the day before, I wanted to digest those conversations. I wanted to enjoy coaching the football team last week with the coaches and players and finish the season the right way. We visited today and decided on a new direction and obviously him giving me a chance to move us in that direction. I'm very thankful for that. I appreciate that, but I know I have a lot of work to do and have got some problems to fix and we're working forward to doing that."
(on why he let those specific position coaches go) "Our defensive side of the ball this year was not good. We've got some serious problems that we've got to address. It definitely was not all coaching in my opinion. We've got issues across the board and things. I had to make a decision on how I think we can get better. Doing that, I made that decision to make those four guys go. I've also retained a coach and I have to think about where we're going next. It's a combination of all those things. We'll bring in a new coordinator and we've got to be fair to him from a standpoint of how we put a staff together and how we go about our football team defensively, so all those things together led to those moves."
(on if the team has not drafted effectively on defense) "I don't know. I'm not sitting here with all of the draft choices in front of me but whatever we've done draft choice, free agency, whatever, we're not playing good enough defense right now to be playing in January. We've got to assess that across the board."
(on the current status of his search for a defensive coordinator and if he's contacted Wade Phillips) "I have talked to nobody. I know there has been a lot of speculation. My focus was strictly on Jacksonville and getting ready for the game. I have not talked to anybody from that standpoint, but I will be talking to people very quickly, probably as early as this evening as we get started. I think it's important that we do get started on this and make a decision so that we lock in which direction we want to go and we get the best possible coaches available, not only as a coordinator but to assist him as we move forward. It'll start for me when I get through with you guys today."
(on his thoughts on Wade Phillips) "I know Wade. Y'all know that I know him and have competed against him many times. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and a football coach. We'll talk to a number of people. I think it's pretty safe to say that Wade will be one of the people that we talk to and it will probably be very quickly."
(on whether he will interview several candidates for the defensive coordinator position) "I didn't say that. I said I will talk to several. We will talk to several candidates."
(on whose will decide on the defensive coordinator hire) "I think we'll all be a part of that process. Obviously there are a lot of names flying around and (Texans owner) Bob (McNair) has got ideas. (general manager) Rick (Smith) has ideas. My ideas will start today because I've been dealing with a lot of other things. Together we've got to come up with what we think is the best group of guys to talk to moving forward."
(on if he gets the final say on who he wants on his coaching staff) "We will all work together, but Bob has always assured me that he doesn't want me working with anybody that I don't think is best for this football team. We'll always work together."
(on whether he wants to hire a proven defensive coordinator) "I think that's very important right now. I think it's very important that whoever steps in our defensive room, as we get moving forward, comes in from a well-respected standpoint of a big background in this business, and we will do everything we can to get that best guy."
(on whether it will matter if the defensive coordinator he hires runs a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme) "You know what, it doesn't. I've been asked that a couple times today. I think what we have to do is respect the person that we hire, knowing that we're getting the best guy available; and we've got to say, 'Look at our personnel,' and I don't think it really matters what we play. Whatever he thinks is best and gives us the best chance to be successful, then we should adapt to him. So we're going to turn it over to him."
(on whether the potential uncertainty with the Collective Bargaining Agreement could affect the decision to drastically change the defensive scheme) "I don't think that factors into it right now. The only place the difficulty could come, to me, from something like that, and I've expressed this with (Texans owner) Bob (McNair), is if something lingers and we don't have our players in the offseason. If something like that were to take place and you do have change in your organization, then obviously that could get a little scary as far as moving forward. But let's hope that doesn't happen. That's also why I think it's important that we do do something fast and establish an identity real quick in which direction we're going so our players know."
(on how DE Mario Williams might fit into a 3-4 scheme) "Well I would imagine there's always going to be a few players that have a thought one way or the other, but I think Mario just wants to be successful, and if we do end up going to a 3-4, then we've got to convince Mario that that's the best thing for this team and the best thing for Mario. If we don't, then so be it. I think right now it's about getting the right guy, and then we make the players fit. It's our job to make sure we do what's best for our players, too. We're not going to go to a 3-4 just out of spite. We're going to do it because we think it's the best thing for our football players and our team."
(on which players on the current roster could play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense) "That's the cart before the horse. Obviously, if it's something we would do, we've got some holes because we have been a 4-3 football team, and that would be one of the things that would have to be addressed. So, a lot of questions like that if that happens, but that hasn't happened yet."
(on how hard it is for him to fire people) "It's very difficult. It's a brutal day. I don't know how to describe it to you, to take away something like that. But one of the great things about my job is I get to give people opportunity, too. So I try to take as much satisfaction out of that, because the few times you've got to take it away, it hurts very bad. That's part of what I do for a living, that's my job, and my job is to do what's best for the Texans, and that's what makes it a very difficult day today."
(on how he feels about getting the opportunity to remain as head coach) "I'm very lucky. I know that. After our process that we've been through, and then this year, the big letdown that we had, I work for a great man that believes in me, and that means a lot to me. I know I'm very, very fortunate from that standpoint in this business, and I don't want to let him down. I've got a lot of work to do to make him proud, and I plan on doing that. Like I said, it's a tough day today, but we'll move forward tonight and we will do everything we can to get it corrected real fast. I've got a lot of confidence in myself and a lot of confidence in what (Texans owner) Bob (McNair) wants me to do, and I'm looking forward to getting started on it."
(on whether there is a sense of relief to have this decision out of the way) "Not today; not yet, because I've had to deal with too many other tough things today, like I said. The tough outweighs everything right now, but obviously I'm very appreciative of my opportunity that I'm getting."
(on whether he talked to SS Bernard Pollard about his free agency situation) "You know, there were a few guys like that today. I met with every player today and visited with them briefly. There are guys that are listed as unrestricted free agents; there are guys that could be restricted depending on what happens with the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). I think that's a very open book right now, so we don't know, but my conversation with Bernard was good. He did not play yesterday with his shoulder bothering him, but he has done his job for us, he has always played hard for us. Bernard is sitting, I would assume, in a good situation. He's been a good football player, he's free, and we'll see what happens."
(on whether he wants SS Bernard Pollard back with the Texans next season) "He's done a good job for this football team, but we have to go back and what we'll start doing tomorrow morning is go back and evaluating our football season and looking at our players, and we've got to decide which direction we go, but Bernard has always done his job."
(on how important it is to re-sign TE Owen Daniels and QB Matt Leinart) "I think all of those things are important but there is so much work to be done between now and those things happening. I think I spoke on OD's (TE Owen Daniels) behalf yesterday and what I think of him and what he means to this team and how far he's come. Great visit with him today. I can tell you OD wants to be a part of our team and we want OD. You know, as far as (QB) Matt (Leinart), first off, I'm very proud of Matt. I had a great visit with him today. I went through this situation before with Brian Griese and watched how tough that can be; taking over for a great quarterback and what you can go through and what Matt went through. Matt came here and this year was about Matt getting his confidence back and regaining his form, so to speak, for his career moving forward. I hope that's with us, but if it's not, I'm very proud of him and I think he's got a bright future and I like what he did for us. He's a fine young man and he's going to be a fine player in this league."
(on QB Matt Leinart's upside) "It's huge. He's got the 'it' factor. People follow him and just watching him come here with us, where he was when he walked in the door, what he had been through and watching the confidence that he's walking around this building with this past week as we prepared to play our last game, either we're going to get him or somebody else is going to get a hell of a quarterback. I think he is going to be a fine, fine player."
(on if the new defensive coordinator will have input into defensive personnel) "No doubt. We need to do everything we can to support that guy. Like I said, we've got a problem. We have not played good defense. This year was very, very poor. We've got to go out there and sell our program to a top-notch guy and we've got to let him know we're going to totally support him and what he doesn't think he has, we need to go get it for him and whatever we can do to get better. This football team needs to see us be totally committed to getting better on that side of the ball and that means supporting whoever we bring in."
(on if Texans Owner Bob McNair indicated that general manager Rick Smith's job was secure when he met with him) "I talked to Bob (McNair) about my situation. I visited with him today. I've been visiting with players and now I'm here with you guys. I can't speak for (general manager) Rick (Smith) and Bob's conversations."
(on how he will approach hiring a defensive coordinator for the third time differently) "It's got to be different, I guess is a good way to answer it. You're right. I've had two opportunities; gave two first-time guys opportunities to be coordinators and I'm proud of the effort they've put forth and everything. They're both fine coaches and great guys. What's going to be different this time? Like I said, it's got to be different. We've got to be successful. It cannot take time. It's got to be quick. So we've got to do everything we can to get the right person and get it going very quickly."
(on if there is a deadline to hire a new defensive coordinator) "No, I don't see it that way. But it's not like we're going to sit here and wait for everything to pan out over the course of the next month. I think we've got to get started tonight. We've got to start deciding who we're going to talk to. We've got to get a plan of action real quick."
(on the importance of making an immediate improvement on defense next year) "I don't think we're sitting here talking about a three- or four-year building process. Whoever we go get, we've got to get him the people and expect to be successful next year. We've got to be ready to go real quick."
(on if it's time to win immediately next year) "There is no doubt in my mind. We felt that way going into this season. We thought we were there as a football team and we thought we were there six weeks into the football season but we found out over the course of the last 10 weeks we definitely were not. We need to improve as a football team but we obviously know where our biggest problems are and that's what we've got to go fix right away."
(on how difficult it was to fire Frank Bush and Johnny Holland) "It's very tough. Those are obviously my friends that I've known for a long time and now that I've coached with for a long time and like I've said, it's the greatest feeling in the world for me, coming here, giving those guys opportunities. That's a great feeling for me. But at the same time, I had to sit across from them today and shake their hand and move in another direction. I don't know how to describe to you how tough that is. I know it's part of my job."
(on LB Brian Cushing's performance this season) "First off, (LB) Brian (Cushing) missing the time hurt Brian. I don't care who you are as a player, when you do not play, when you miss four weeks or something, you don't just bounce right back on the field and do things the way you've done them in the past. The suspension hurt Brian. (LB) DeMeco's (Ryan) injury hurt Brian a great deal because we had to move him. That's on us. We had to move him around, got him uncomfortable for a couple weeks but I still think we had to. So I think you take a combination of those things, him missing DeMeco's presence; it doesn't add up to the same season he had a year ago. But his effort was the same. He still made big plays in games. But as I've told all you before, we need him to be huge. When you look at the whole factor of the defense, it just didn't happen and he's part of that. His effort and everything is the same as it was the year before."
(on whether he'll change his own role on the coaching staff) "I'll evaluate myself too. I'll listen to (owner) Bob (McNair). I'll listen to (general manager) Rick (Smith). I'll listen to the coaches. Obviously I'm sitting here talking about hiring a guy who's got great experience on the defensive side of the ball and who possibly could have head coaching experience. I like that. That's why I have (senior defensive assistant) Ray (Rhodes). That's why I had Mike Sherman with me. I want people like that around me that I can lean on and ask questions. I don't see this hire any different, but yes, I do need to take a good look at myself also, if that's what you're asking."
(on whether senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes will return next year) "I can't speak for (senior defensive coordinator) Ray (Rhodes) , but at this point right now we have talked a little bit and he has talked about retirement. Ray's contract is up I think March 1. He's been going year-to-year with us. So he and I will discuss it more, but today Ray is helping me do some evaluation. So we'll go from there."
(on whether he wants to bring back DE Mark Anderson next year) "Yeah, he did some good stuff. We had a good conversation with him today. I think he helped himself in his career. I thought (assistant head coach/defensive line) Bill (Kollar) did a good job with the crew that he was having to put together throughout the back half of the season and (DE) Mark (Anderson) was part of that."
(on whether he'll look for coaches he's worked with before) "I really don't know. I couldn't tell because I don't have that list in front of me right now."
(on how to fix the slow starts on offense) "I've got to go back and look at them. We had a good fast one yesterday. We played pretty good the first half at Denver. We played pretty good in the first half early this season. We just have to go back and look at that just like we do everything."
(on how to fix problems in the return game) "Yeah, we got to evaluate that just like everything else. Who is doing the returning? Who is doing the blocking? How we went about it. We evaluate that just like we do everything else."
(on reasons not making coaching changes in defense during the season) "I don't think it called for that. I don't think there's any one coach who was not doing his job. If I thought the problem was one person throughout the season and all of a sudden it was going to change we would've done what we had to do. I think there was a combination of problems. I didn't see that as the fix so to speak."
(on why he decided to retain assistant head coach/defensive line coach Bill Kollar) "First of all, I think (assistant head coach/defensive line coach) Bill (Kollar) has done a hell of a job. I think the job that he did with the group he had. He had four guys that suited up yesterday that weren't on our team when the season started. I just like the way he does his job. It has a lot to do with what I see us going forward without getting too advanced with that."
(on whether his contract status will hinder his ability to hire assistant coaches) "I hope he (owner Bob McNair) gave me an extension because he thought I was a good football coach. I think that's part of our business. Hiring coaches and having them believing where you're going and what direction you're heading. That's all part of what we do. That's our job to convince who ever we're going to bring in here that we're going to do it the right way. That we're going to win. We are going to make him successful. That's something that we'll have to do."