Texans coach Gary Kubiak addressed the media on Monday during his weekly press conference from Reliant Stadium. The Texans' surging young defense was a big topic of discussion. Also, owner Robert McNair was presented with the Lombardi Humanitarian Award.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak Owner Robert C. McNair Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on if he is worried about the kicking game) "No. I think (P) Matt (Turk) has punted very well this year. Yesterday, obviously, wasn't his best outing. He got one tough stop. He did a great job handling that snap. I thought (K) Kris (Brown) had been struggling on his kickoffs a little bit, but he kicked the ball much better yesterday. Our problem with the field goal is protection right now and that stems from this offensive line issue we have with some of these new young guys coming in. We've got to get some extensive work on that this week because that can obviously cost you a game. I believe in our kicking game. Our special teams have been good, but we definitely have some things to improve upon."
(on if RB Chris Brown will get more carries) "I'm going to continue with the role I see Chris in on this football team. Obviously, Chris responded yesterday. He was much better, especially good at the end of that game. In that fourth quarter and at the end of the game, I think he averaged five yards a carry, but when we get thirty carries in a game, you get a chance to get a couple guys going. (RB) Steve (Slaton), of course, made his big plays mostly in the pass game but Chris was very effective in what we asked him to do."
(on if the short passes to Slaton take the place of a running game) "He's got a hundred and fifty-something yards of offense yesterday in the game, so obviously he was very, very productive. It is a way of getting him more touches in the game, those type of things. As I've said, we have to continue to push our running game. Like I said, thirty carries yesterday—forty throws. There is some balance there even though yardage wise, it was all on the passing end. It just does something for your team. What it does, to me, is its time of possession. I think we've come out of the game winning the time of possession by quite a bit. We just need to keep working on it, keep pushing. We did it a little bit different yesterday in what we normally do, as far as some of the things we did in the running game. Obviously, the big plays Steve made in the pass game were big in the game."
(on Slaton's fumbles) "That's what concerns me, more than anything with Steve. Steve is playing hard. He's much better in pass protection than he has been, but he's put the ball on the ground throughout these first six games, so that's very concerning. We've got to do some things. (Running backs coach) Chick (Harris) has to do some things this week. We've got to get his attention from that standpoint, but obviously those things can get you beat."
(on how do you get a back's attention in practice) "Get everybody on the practice field yanking at the ball. Basically, working him over during practice, making him pay more attention to just protecting the ball. Throughout the week, Chick can do some drills with him, either before or after practice. He knows that and he had a big fumble there late in the game that could've put them right back in the ballgame, but it's something Steve has got to get corrected."
(on their success stopping the run the past three games) "Obviously, we've been excellent from that standpoint. What are we doing differently? I wouldn't say we're doing a whole lot differently. We've been more active up front these past few weeks. We've went small, from a lineup standpoint, as far as the A-guys we've been playing. I think the bottom line is that our defense is just getting better. I think we've eliminated some mistakes, some assignment issues and just been more sound in what we're doing and it's adding up to more plays."
(on if the line being smaller means quicker) "Yeah. Obviously, with those eight and you're sitting down some big guys, you're getting more athletic. But it does scare you because you are very small. They were a big offensive line, so some of (defensive coordinator) Frank (Bush)'s calls were a little bit different. Maybe some of his first down calls are different with stunts and some blitzes and those types of things. That's okay as long as you can handle them and we've handled them so far."
(on if staying small and quick gives him more confidence) "I think it goes week to week with who we're playing. This week, against Cincinnati, we felt like they would obviously try to run the ball against us. At the same time, you have to know that we're a little concerned about (DE) Mario (Williams). Going to five ends and three inside guys…that has been a factor also—not just saying we're going with five ends. With Mario's shoulder, how many plays are we asking Mario to play? I think yesterday, Mario played forty-something plays. Mario usually plays every snap in the game, so that's had something to do with it too."
(on how far is Mario, percentage-wise, from being healthy) "I don't know. He's close. I hate to put a number on it. I just know that it's been bothering him and it can be an any given day deal. One day it'll bother him pretty good, flare up on him. Next day, he's okay. We're keeping him out of contact in practice. He actually didn't even practice a couple of days but he's handled that. He's playing hurt for his team right now, but if he can continue to get through these games okay, he'll be fine."
(on how that affects the way you pass rush) "It depends on what happens on that particular play. Which way the protection is turned…whether he's trying to beat a double team…what type of move he's trying—it probably would change every play."
(on the linebackers involvement in stopping the run) "They've been excellent. Up front, I think we've done a good job of keeping the guards and centers, those types of people, from getting to the second level. (LB) DeMeco (Ryans) was excellent in the game. He was a double-digit tackler. (LB Brian) Cushing was our defensive player of the game. He was excellent in the game. (LB) Zac (Diles) only played twenty-something plays, if I'm right, because we were in a lot of nickel. The group has been a strength. They've played very well."
(on what is most impressive about what Cushing has done) "I think the fact that he had basically no training camp. Not going through camp, starting opening day. We knew what the lineup we had defensively on opening day, starting Cushing, starting Dunta, that there was a big risk from that standpoint of them not going through camp. For us to get to where we needed to be, down the road, we knew those guys need to be there. I think the way he has responded and how fast he has responded has been very impressive."
(on what he has done to get better each week) "He's just a playmaker. He's very sound in what's he's doing. He studies football very well. He diagnoses things, like he got beat on the play he ends up intercepting, he was kind of out of position on that same play earlier in the game. He comes back, makes the play. When you get in crunch time, he tends to make even more plays. He's playing like a veteran, playing like a four or five year player right now."
(on the challenge of 49ers RB Frank Gore) "This team is very physical. I had a brief look at them before I came down here today, but very physical. (49ers head coach) Mike (Singletary)'s team is going to be that way. They've got two backs. The Coffee kid (RB Glen Coffee) has played really well too. We're going to get challenged again up front, with the run. We know that."
(on if SS Bernard Pollard has improved the defense) "Yeah, he's played very well. The group is playing. We could go through all of them. They've all stepped it up and played much better here over the course of the past few weeks. His presence, that was his third outing for us if I'm right, just being here for about a month, he's obviously added a new dimension to our defense. He's played very well."
(on if it is realistic to continue their success against the run) "We've got a lot of ground to make up after that start but it's been encouraging. Hopefully we can keep it going and we'll have to. Like I said, the team we play this week and Buffalo coming who's got (RB Marshawn) Lynch. We're going to face some good backs and some big teams and they're going to test us every week until we do stop."
(on the chances the team will make a trade) "I don't know. You'll have to ask (general manager) Rick (Smith)."
(on if he believes the commitment to the run opens up passes like in Jacoby Jones' TD) "The run made that play. Our play action continues to be very good for us, even though our run has been spotty. We pride ourselves on being a good play action team. One of the things (QB) Matt (Schaub) is doing a great job of, is if we don't have a play, checking a down. (FB) Vonta (Leach) has made some plays for us. Steve (Slaton) made some plays for us yesterday, but that was something we had talked about at halftime. It came off just like we thought and Jacoby made a heck of a catch there too because that was a tough ball to handle."
(on the difference on third down for the offense) "Just making plays. Matt (Schaub) moves and makes two great plays. The play he makes to David (Anderson) when he scrambles, comes out to his right, that was a big third down. We get max blitz the time he hit (TE) Owen (Daniels). When you come out of a game and you're fifty percent, usually the players are doing something special and we did. We did it across the board and Matt made some big, big plays on third down."
(on the team's pass protection the past two games) "It's obviously been better. To have these young players in there with these two young guards, which is a concern and a growing process for us, it's been exception considering we've thrown it 90 times in two weeks. Hopefully we continue to protect Matt. When we do, he's usually doing pretty good things."
(on G Antoine Caldwell) "He played like a first-time guy, first time out I should say. He had some very impressive plays, had some tough ones too. The thing that he showed you is he can be very stout. He's got a bright future. That's why we brought him here and he's going to have to grow up real quick. Between him and Chris (White), I thought they did a good job and we just need them to get better."
(on what Dunta Robinson is doing to make him play his best ball) "I just think he's through camp now. He's six weeks into this thing, so he's basically been through training camp now. He's going into week two or week three, so he's getting locked up against some good players, so he's having to play pretty darn good in the position that we're putting him in. He's playing his best right now, like I said, hopefully he continues to get better."
(on if they had any injuries on Sunday) "No, we came out pretty clean."
(on if CB Jacques Reeves is 100%) "Yeah, he's fine. I would say that he wasn't as fresh this week as he was last week. Last week was his first time out and he played thirty-something plays. We wanted to pick it up this week. He played forty plays on turf. I would say his legs probably weren't as fresh. We're probably going to see that here for a couple weeks. He played well. He's going to be fine."
(on what it means to win this game and be at 3-3 rather than 2-4) "It was a big game. We all knew that. I think I told you that after the game. There wasn't much said about it. We all understand what's at stake every time we go out. We needed to get ourselves back in this position. We had to go there and beat a dang good football team yesterday, so we rose to the occasion. Now we've got to go correct those mistakes and get ready to beat another good football team this week."
Mr. Robert C. McNair(on being award with the inaugural Rotary Lombardi Humanitarian Award) "Thank you so much. It is indeed an honor for you to select me and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it because I had such respect for Coach Lombardi and all that he stood for. I recall being at the very first Lombardi dinner and have always appreciated what the Rotary Club has done in creating this Lombardi award to honor the outstanding linemen. I've watched with great interest as the award has grown in prestige over time. I'm just delighted to be a part of it and I look forward to the ceremony this year and seeing who the four finalists will be. They will be announced November 10th, so that will be an exciting time and I understand (former Packers QB) Bart Starr and (former Packers G) Jerry Kramer are coming to town. That will be a nice opportunity to visit with them also. They are great heroes in the world of football and fine people, so I look forward to seeing them. Thank you very much. I look forward to participating."