Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions at a Monday press conference at Reliant Stadium, and before that, some of the players met with the media in the locker room. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews. * *
Head Coach Gary KubiakLB Brian CushingWR Andre JohnsonFB Vonta LeachWR Kevin WalterRT Eric Winston
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on his feelings now that the team is officially eliminated from the playoffs) "It's just very disappointing because I thought we had a good football team coming out of training camp. I knew we were going to play a tough schedule. We were missing some players early in the season, some very key players. We weathered that storm pretty good and got to 4-2 missing (LB Brian) Cushing and (LT) Duane (Brown). Since then, it's been very tough. We've lost some tough football games. It's just very disappointing. We still have a lot to play for these last two weeks, so we have to find a way to man up and play better."
(on what they have left to play for these last two weeks) "The same thing you play for every week in my opinion. You play for your pride. If you're a pro football player or you're a coach, you're paid to do a job. Obviously the stakes change for you, but that is what it is. It should not change how we go about our business or how we do our job."
(on if he is more worried now about his job after the way they played yesterday) "No. I'd answer it the same way."
(on Mr. McNair saying he thought the team was on the right track) "It's like I told y'all when you asked me about that. Bob can say what he wants to say, but I know Bob wants us to win games. My job is to get this team in position to win games, so that's my reaction to that."
(on how he is when he discusses the games alone with Mr. McNair) "I'm never really with Bob by myself to be honest with you. I'm always sitting with (General Manager) Rick (Smith) and (Vice Chairman) Cal (McNair) and Bob. That's something that I will do here when I leave this right now. That's the way I spend my time with them on Mondays, basically reviewing the game and where the football team is at. They have their suggestions to me and my answering their questions. That's how it goes."
(on his thoughts regarding DE Antonio Smith's comments that the defense did not necessarily have each other's backs and if that's why there has been inconsistencies) "I don't think so. I think that's just guys in the heat of the battle. If you go back and look at the play, you can see obviously why Antonio was mad. You'd be mad if you were a player out there and somebody went at you—at your knees—that late in the play. He's just upset. He's got one teammate just trying to keep him calm and keep him out of harm's way from a standpoint of hurting the team with a penalty or getting himself thrown out of the game. Antonio is a very emotional young man, much less a player. It doesn't surprise me, his emotion. Nobody plays harder than him."
(on what an example would be of not having another player's back) "I think that's just an emotional moment for him. I can't answer questions for (DE) Antonio (Smith). I see this guy every day. He's a great teammate. I think he thinks a lot of his teammates. He'd have to answer that question for you. I don't see it as a problem."
(on what has been different game planning-wise from a coaching standpoint this year compared to last) "Game plan wise, you do the same thing. We've done it for five years. I have a routine that I follow and how I put together game plans. A couple of years ago, we were a great first quarter team and a horrible third quarter team. I think that wasn't very long ago. I think we all remember that. I think it's always something in this business and you're always searching for perfection, but obviously, we have not played well in the first quarter and I think it has been a combination of things as a football team. It's not one area. It hits all areas. When you go four-and-out and three-and-out and you give up three touchdowns in the first three touches of the ball, the team is not going to play well. You can say the offense didn't play well, the defense didn't play well, but the team is not going to play well. I think we've been outscored three-to-one in the first quarter of football games this year. You're probably going to be down in the first half and that's been the case for whatever the reason. We're searching. We're really searching to try and do some things differently. Last week, obviously, they didn't work, so we'll keep searching again."
(on how being down all the time changes what he wants to do) "Well it throws your game plan out the window real fast. It's happened quite a bit this year. Obviously, you go into a game and you've got certain ways you want to attack people and personnels you want to play with. If you get down 21 points at halftime as we have been and were yesterday, now all of a sudden you're in a hurry up mode and probably stuck in one personnel, be it three-wides, four-wides, whatever you choose to do. From a game plan standpoint, the way you wanted to attack their base defense or what you wanted to accomplish against them, you kind of throw it out and say we've got to go get some speed and get some plays run and see if we can get back in this football game. That's how it affects you."
(on if he plans to start Dan Orlovsky or Matt Leinart at quarterback, given injuries Matt Schaub has suffered this season) "No. If (QB) Matt (Schaub) can go, he'll go. He's obviously beat up. He got hit way too much yesterday. If he can go, he'll go. It's important that he plays."
(on if he would like to evaluate QBs Dan Orlovsky and Matt Leinart in some fashion) "Yeah, I'd like to, but I don't think this calls for that. I don't see things that way. I think we got a game to go win and we need to play our best guy. So if he's available, he'll play."
(on if RB Arian Foster was forced out of the game against Tennessee with back spasms) "No. His ankle was bothering him. I don't know anything about the back."
(on reports that the Texans are a team Bill Cowher would like to coach) "Well, he's a damn good coach. I can't do (anything) about what he says."
(on if there is a code between coaches to not angle for a job that someone else has) "I don't have a handbook that has a code. I don't know. I have no idea."
(on QB Matt Schaub drifting when he rolls out) "Well, I would drift, too, with the protection we had yesterday. It wasn't good enough. He got hit very much. We did not do a good job on the edges and you're right, he did drift some; some of it very warranted, some of it probably natural reactions because we have not been protecting well. I've got to get him to set his feet. We got to protect better than we did yesterday."
(on a perceived lack of leadership on the sidelines among the players) "I don't feel that. I think we're kind of a rut right now, or a situation right now where we've had a lot of games start the way yesterday's game started, so I think there's a lot of, 'Oh, no. Not again.' I see some of that. But as far as guys being into what they're doing, trying to give the ultimate effort to get it done, I would disagree with you on that part."
(on how FS Eugene Wilson gets lost when a rookie receiver goes for a 39-yard gain on fourth down in the first quarter against the Titans) "First off, we pressured (the quarterback). They went to a max protection mode. In this league, when a guy's got a chance to run an out and up, you know, you've got to get to the quarterback at some point. So, he's got to cover better, but we've got to get there, too. We had a blitz on."
(on what he tried to do differently on offense to open the game against the Titans) "It didn't work so it doesn't matter."
(on if he also gets the "Oh, no. Not again." feeling that he's seen some of his players get) "No, I mean, I don't want to. But when you look up and it's 21-0, you better do something to get yourself back in the football game. It's not 'Oh, no.' for me. It's like, 'How do we get some snaps here and find a way to get back in this game and cut it down?' We did. We cut it to 24-10. We were on the 33-yard line with third and three and five minutes left in the third quarter. So we had every chance to get right back into this one but we got a big sack, so like I said, it's been an ongoing thing, but we've been finding ways to battle through it and still having our opportunities to win games. Yesterday was not the case; we never had the opportunity."
(on the impact of moving defensive coordinator Frank Bush down onto the field a couple weeks ago) "We did that, obviously because we're searching. We had struggled, so we looked for some things that hopefully can make us better, could calm us down a little bit on the field. We are playing a lot of guys, I think, from a young standpoint, that (defensive coordinator) Frank (Bush) being down there helps with guys like (LB Darryl) Sharpton, players like that. Getting (CB) Jason Allen in, a new player like that or our defensive line has got a bunch of new faces on it, so I think that it's helped. But still, the bottom line is that we've got to play better."
(on if rookie LB Darryl Sharpton might be better suited at middle linebacker) "I don't know where he's suited, but he needs to be out there all the time. He was as good a football player as we had on this field yesterday and I'm sure you all saw it, too. Boy, he really, really played well and he played well on special teams."
(on how the injury situation has impacted the Texans special teams) "We've got some starters that we've got playing, from that standpoint. Yesterday, we got a nice return that gave us good field position the first time. We did not punt well. That hurt us; I think we punted four times and only really had one good punt. Covering, we had a big penalty that hurt us to start the game with us being called for going low when a guy slipped. But we're playing some starters there. (TE Joel) Dreessen played well yesterday, from a special teams standpoint; (FS) Troy Nolan played well. So it has been tough on (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano). I think I have mentioned that to y'all numerous times because it has been a revolving door from the standpoint of who's available and who's not, but that is part of the game, too. That's part of what we deal with every week, so we've just got to keep dealing with it."
(on whether he questioned the team's effort over the last couple of weeks) "No, I don't. I told them today when I met with them that if I have a question about something like that, I'll tell them and we'll talk about it. We watched the film today and we had guys playing hard, we had guys doing some good things, but we were so sloppy as a team in the first quarter of the football game that it was just something that couldn't be overcome. I didn't like the way we played offensively throughout the game. I thought there were points that we recovered defensively, but I didn't like the way we played on the line of scrimmage offensively."
(on whether the players playing slow and lacking concentration could be a sign of lack of effort) "I think we gave our effort yesterday. I said I thought we looked slow. I thought we looked tired. I don't think they were out there trying to go slow; my concern was did I have them fresh coming off the Monday Night Football game. That's why I made those comments."
*LB Brian Cushing *(on if there is any truth that the team quit against the Titans) "No, there is no truth to that at all. If they think that, they could come and watch the film with us and I'll think they'll agree that it wasn't. There are 11 guys playing hard on both sides of the ball. There's no question about it. We got beat yesterday. We got beat pretty good. There is zero quit in this team, not at all."
(on if there is any solution as to why the team comes out so slow week-in and week-out) "No, there is not. But there is no excuse for it. We have to play better football at the start of the game. You could talk about it and give all those reasons why this and why that. The bottom line its football and when the whistle starts you have to play right from the beginning."
(on if he patched things up with DE Antonio Smith after the game) "I patched things up with (DE) Antonio (Smith) right after the play. I think that you guys are running with it a little bit. It was just one of those things where we are very competitive people and just trying to get to the next play and win a football game. We talked at halftime, we talked in the third quarter, and we talked in the fourth quarter. We both had our mindset from there on out to try to get that win up there."
*WR Andre Johnson *(on how disappointed he is ) "It's very disappointing. We had expectations and we didn't live up to them. That's pretty much it. When you set goals for yourself and you don't achieve them you're pretty upset about them."
(on what does the team have to do in the last two games to avoid the type of performance against the Titans) "The biggest thing is going out and making the plays. That's what we need to do. The whole team, not just offense and not just defense. Even special teams, we all need to make the plays for us to win the game."
(on how does he feel about being 5-9) "It's not a good feeling. I don't know. It's not a good feeling."
(on if he's worried if the team go 5-11 for the season head coach Gary Kubiak will be fired) "That's not my call. I've said that before. I think (head) coach (Gary) Kubiak is a great coach and I can't really speak on that."
(on when he looked at the film this morning did he see enough fight coming from the team) "I don't think the fight is in question. I think it's just the little things. Just being in the right spot at times and guys just making mistakes. That seems to be the same things that happen every week. We just have to be harder on ourselves as players and take responsibility to make sure that you're in the right places where you need to be."
(on how important will it be to start fast in order to win the last two games) "That's very important. That's something we've been talking about for the past couple of weeks. When we do that and go out and play well. We just dig ourselves in such a big hole at beginning of games. Somehow we got to find a way on not to do that."
*FB Vonta Leach *(on if he's analyzed this year's slow starts in the first quarters of games) "No we haven't analyzed. We tried a lot of different things. We start practice on the same schedule. We started to do different things on Fridays. We haven't found out what we need to do to get a faster start. I guess at the end of the season they'll analyze and see what the things that we need to do."
*WR Kevin Walter *(on if "shocked" is the best way to describe the outcome of this season) "I wouldn't say, 'shocked'. I would say disappointing. We prepare hard during the week. We go out there and do the things right to get ready to go out there and be successful. It's just disappointing because we put in the work and we deserve to go out there and win these games. It's just not happening. That's just the fact in the matter. I would say disappointing is the word."
(on how the team goes from a 4-2 to a situation to where it is just desperate to get a win) "It's executing the game plan and going out there and executing as a team and playing together; its three units (offense, defense and special teams). I think that's the main thing. We just have to go out there and do a better job than the other team."
(on what could be done to try to finish the season strong) "We have to get a win. We have to. It's not fun coming in today and watching the film. It's just not fun when you lose. We got to focus on Denver and we have to go up there and get a win. We have to do our job better than the other team. That's the main goal. We got to start fast. We got to play consistent. We just got to do a better job."
T Eric Winston(on what is he playing for these last two games) "We are professionals around here. We are going to do things the right way. No matter what, they're keeping score so we got to go out there and win."