The day after their season ended, the Texans cleaned out their lockers for the offseason, and also answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
CB Jason AllenTE James CaseyRB Arian FosterWR Jacoby JonesFB Vonta LeachQB Matt LeinartQB Dan OrlovskySS Bernard PollardK Neil RackersDE Antonio SmithG Wade SmithRB Derrick WardDE Mario WilliamsFS Eugene Wilson
CB Jason Allen(on how his first season in Houston went) "I loved it here. I enjoyed it, working with a great group of guys, a great coaching staff here, and I think it was a great experience for me."
(on how he felt about the secondary's struggles this season) "I really don't think we accomplished, from an individual standpoint, what we should have done, but it's a work in progress. Any time you have a group of guys, it takes time to gel together. It is weird from that standpoint there, but the guys really work hard here, prepare, and just certain outcomes didn't come out the way we intended for them to come out or how we wanted them to come out."
(on what he saw from the young cornerbacks in the Texans secondary) "That's always the thing - guys get better over time. If you work at it and you're dedicated and you're disciplined, you take care of your body and learn how to be a professional and go about your work ethic in a professional manner, then you'll definitely get better over time."
TE James Casey(on the disappointment of the season) "It was obviously a very disappointing season, going 6-10 with what we expected to be at the start of the season. The problem when you really look back at it and see the close games, I think that we had five games that we were right there at the end and we could have pulled them out if we just made plays at the end. It's going to be very frustrating. Personally, it's two years down. I felt like I had a really good year; I played a lot of special teams and got in on offense here and there and had some time in the middle of the year when (TE) Owen (Daniels) went down. I felt like I really got a lot better as a player and I'm only going to get better as a tight end. I haven't had a ton of experience but this year was really good for me. I'm already really excited about next year and getting into the offseason and training and coming back even better."
(on not knowing if head coach Gary Kubiak will be back) "It's part of the business. Of course, I think everybody on the team wants him to be back. He's a great coach. He's an offensive coach and our offense has done very well this year. His job is to put us in a position to win. I think he has done that all year, we just haven't made plays in key times in games. But yeah, this uncertainty, it's a little strange. You win your last game and we have our physicals and our exit interviews today and after that, you're pretty much gone. You don't come back for months. I live in Houston, so it's a little different for me. I guess we'll find out stuff soon. I'm expecting Kubiak to be back. I hope he's back. I guess we'll see."
RB Arian Foster(on how special it was to have teammates and coaches come up to him to congratulate him on the rushing title) "It feels good, man. It feels good when your peers recognize the hard work that you've put in and the respect that gets you; it's more than anything monetary can give you."
(on how anxious he is about the impending new labor deal and how that will affect him monetarily next season) "This is the business side of football that favors some people and don't favor some people. You just have to deal with it and hopefully everything turns out well."
(on how he would sum up this season) "Bittersweet."
(on if he has done anything this season that has exceeded any of his dreams or expectations) "No, I haven't done anything. I set out goals at the beginning of the season. I never told anybody my goals, but my goals at the beginning of the season were 15 touchdowns and 1,700 yards. Those were my goals. So next year, I'm going to have similar goals."
(on the job the offensive line, fullbacks and tight ends did blocking this season in helping him win the NFL rushing title) "I mean, it's obvious that it was a collective effort. I get all the attention for it. Finally, (FB) Vonta Leach is getting some love for it. He's going to the Pro Bowl. I'm happy for him. It has been a collective effort all season. I'm just happy that the guys rallied behind me. This is just as much their accomplishment as it is mine."
(on his goals) "I set my goals high. I even told some of my close people in my circle what my goals were and they were like, 'Um, okay.' They weren't with me, up at 5:30 in the morning, I always say that, but I'm not just blowing smoke. I work hard for what I do. Sometimes things fall your way."
(on how he came up with his goals) "I started out at 1,500 but I just wanted a little more. I put in a lot of work this offseason, fine-tuning everything about my game and it's what I wanted."
(on the thought that nobody can call his season a fluke) "Yeah, they can. They'll find a way. 'Oh, it's just a one-season wonder.' That's what you got to love about people; they sit in their comfortable little chair and judge. That's okay. Just keep blowing on the fire, they ain't putting it out."
WR Jacoby Jones(on whether he has had time yet to reflect on the season) "We're 6-10, but in 2011, we're 1-0. You can't beat that."
(on how he would sum up the season) "We fought hard; we worked hard. It's the NFL. We had tough losses. It happens. We have to rally back and bounce back."
(on what this team is lacking) "Nothing. Nothing at all. We don't lack anything. All we do is we work hard, we come to play, and like I said, we're going to rally and bounce back from 2010. We're 1-0 in 2011."
(on what it's like for the players to not know whether the head coach will be back next year) "That type of stuff, I let that play upstairs. That's their business. All I do is play, and like I've said, I love coach Kub (head coach Gary Kubiak). I've got his back like spinal cords and car seats. Think about it - spinal cords and car seats. They go way back. Whatever happens, happens, and I'm here and I want to ride with him."
(on his personal highlight this season) "I would say last game (in Week 16 at Denver), my first 100-yard game as a pro. That I had the opportunity to do that."
FB Vonta Leach(on how tough today is and not knowing what the future holds) "It's very tough knowing a lockout is coming up, knowing that I'm going to be a free agent, knowing that this is going to be my last time in this locker room or not, so it's kind of tough."
(on how concerned he is about a potential lockout) "It's very concerning. It's a time where a lot of players, the owners and the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), we can't come up with an agreement, so hopefully we can get a deal done before the season starts."
(on how disappointing the season was for the team) "It was very disappointing because we had a lot of high expectations going into the season, had a lot of good players. We're just disappointed in a lot of ways."
(on looking toward the Pro Bowl in Hawaii) "This is not an individual game but we had a lot of individual awards that went out. So I'm happy. It could sort of something I can go and celebrate with (RB) Arian (Foster) and (WR) Andre (Johnson). Hopefully we can just go over there and have a little bit of fun."
(on what went wrong this season) "There are a lot of things that went wrong. There is a lot of blame we can pass around the room from the top to the bottom of the organization. I guess when you analyze it, you sit back when you have time and we'll see what went wrong."
(on the possibility of head coach Gary Kubiak returning to coach the team) "This is a business where you never know what is going to happen and who is going to be back. We want (head coach) Gary (Kubiak) back. I hope Coach Kubiak can be back; he's a good coach. He's the head coach; he took a lot of the blame, which it shouldn't have been. But that's how this business goes sometimes."
(on how good it was to see RB Arian Foster win the rushing title) "Real good. Like you said, the season didn't go the way we wanted but I don't think we've ever had anybody here win the rushing title. What he did, he came on and was great all year. Not just one game or two games; he was great all year for us…It was a good feeling just knowing I was a part of that."
(on how much he wants to return to the team next year) "I want to be a Texan, I want to retire as a Texan but we'll see how this thing goes."
QB Matt Leinart(on what he learned this season) "I think it made me a better player. It helped me find myself again. In Arizona, a lot of stuff happened the last couple of years and getting released really opened my eyes. I came here and had a wonderful experience. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I think this year got me better despite not playing. Hopefully, I'll take this and continue to build from this year."
(on what he learned about himself after working with Coach Kubiak and QB Matt Schaub) "It's a completely different way that I've ever been taught playing a position. We all know how to play the position but there is ways that fit your set of skills. I think this system and the coaching fits what I think I'm good at as a quarterback. I really enjoyed the system. I was in the same system for about three years in Arizona. I was in Denny Greene's system. My offense at USC was very similar to this. That aspect, I loved it and I learned a lot. I think I just expanded my knowledge of the game. I learned a whole different offense in a few months. I felt like I was ready to play if I had the opportunity. That's all you can really do."
(on if he will look for the situation to start again) "Yeah, I want to be a starter in the league. I feel like I've paid my dues. I've sat for three and a half years now. I've played behind a hall of fame quarterback (Kurt Warner), which I think a lot of people don't remember. Coming here, obviously, was not the way I had planned it, but I think Matt Schaub is a great quarterback and he's had two great seasons back-to-back. So for me, I just want the opportunity. I want the chance to compete and play. I don't know what's going to happen obviously, but I think my mindset is I know I can play in this league and I just want the opportunity."
*QB Dan Orlovsky *(on how important it was for him to do the extra work after practice) "It's huge. It's the only work you get. (QB) Matt (Schaub) takes 99 percent of the reps in practice and rightfully so. Obviously, that's beneficial for him, but I have to stay out there and get some type of semblance in timing down in my feet and making throws that I would need to make in a game. You get some work when you're on the scout team, but it's not the same. So just going over our scripts and running our plays and saying our plays. Staying out there is huge and I'll continue to do that."
(on what he improved on this year) "It's tough because I don't have any film. Just running our offense and being more comfortable in running our plays. I think next preseason I'm just excited to get the opportunity to play those games. I'm starting to already think about it just because that's my only time playing so far in the past two years. I look forward to those, but it'll be a long off season."
SS Bernard Pollard(on the state of the team) "For this team, at this point again, we're packing our bags and getting ready to go home. No playoffs. It's just to the point where you say when is enough, enough from being an almost team? We almost got the job done. Yet again, we're at that point where we're packing our bags and going home."
(on DE Antonio Smith saying this season was driving them insane) "It's been one of those seasons. It really has. You look at the way things have gone and you look at the way we've started and looked at the way we finished, it's been one of those things where you have to continue to question yourself, your play. You have to question your teammates. You have to question the coaching staff. That's just what this game does to you. It's one of those things where it's over. I think a lot of people have to understand that this game, you have to figure out if you love this game. Or do you love what this game offers you. We're at that point where I think a lot of people didn't think we would get to but now they're questioning if this coaching staff can get it done. Or can this coordinator get it done? Can this head coach be the man? Now, we're at that point so as far as the players here who have never seen another head coach and have never been around anybody else and never seen a different practice schedule or offseason schedule or anything else, now we're at that point where you have to question what they're going to do. What're we going to do on defense next year? What're we going to do if Kub (Gary Kubiak) is not back? What're we going to do? Change is not always good. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not, but we'll figure it out."
(on if he sees change coming) "It's inevitable. I think obviously we're going to see some on defense. As far as the head coaching position, we don't know. I think for some of the guys, it's going to be rough. It might be rough and it might be easy to get used to, but I think at the same time, whoever comes in here if there is change with the head coach, they're going to establish themselves."
*K Neil Rackers *(on the disappointment of clearing the lockers today and not getting ready for a playoff game) "That's what you always strive for, to get to the playoffs and we didn't get it done, but if you ask me we've got all the tools in place to make a run like that. We just didn't get it done. So hopefully we'll get that opportunity again."
(on the uncertainty with the CBA and where that lies right now in March) "I haven't really thought about it. You just assume that things will get worked out and you'll be coming to work and if it doesn't, you got to come make other plans. I'm excited to come back and get to work and we'll see what happens."
(on a kicker does in the offseason) "I knock the soccer ball around a bit with my left foot to kind of even the body out because all season you've been swinging the right leg and planting the left one so it's nice to even things out a bit. Go do a bit of golfing and fishing and just make sure you're training at my age and diet. I'm just going to enjoy my family and get ready to roll for next year."
DE Antonio Smith(on adjusting to potential changes in personnel or coaches) "It can happen several different ways. If it doesn't suit you, it doesn't suit you. I think that sometimes players get a bad rap in making a decision that best suits them and the longevity of their career, and half the time they're looked at and seen in a bad light because they want to keep their career going on the same course that it was going on. And with a change of defense that doesn't suit you, you're going right on the road to ending your career if you don't perform at that position. Now, if it suits, it suits. And if it's feasible, I can do it, but if it's not, it's just not."
(on how he would sum up this season) "Disappointment, let down, depressing, all of the above. Nothing about losing is fun; nothing about losing is good, in my opinion."
(on how the Arizona Cardinals changed their mindset from a losing one to a winning one while he was there) "The thing that I remember the most is it became a point when we all came together collectively, believing in each other and believing in winning. It took, in my opinion, a mindset breakdown all the way from the bottom and build you up to the top and knowing that you can win games. Once you see that you can compete against some of the top teams and have belief in that, I think that in my opinion, what happened in Arizona was just the Lord manifesting Himself. If you believe, you can get it done."
(on welcoming anyone if it helps turn around the team's fortunes) "I'll welcome anybody if winning is what it brings about. I can humble myself to whatever needs to be done for my team, as long as it fits with the longevity of my career."
(on whether he would fit in a 3-4 defense) "I played in the 3-4. It just depends on the 3-4 that you play."
(on what he means by "It just depends on the 3-4 that you play.") "It means it depends on the 3-4 that you play, whether or not it suits the players that you have. I don't see (DE) Mario (Williams) two-gapping. I don't see me two-gapping. I lost a lot of weight; I'm 272 pounds. Two-gapping, I don't see that happening. I don't see us having a nose guard big enough and stout enough to two-gap. You can always go get players, but I just don't see it right now."
*G Wade Smith *(on how much the performance of RB Arian Foster was a reflection of the offensive line executing this season) "I think it's a reflection of us as a whole offense. I think we have an offensive line that we try to put our footprint in the game plan and you have (FB) Vonta Leach and you have our tight ends blocking. (RB) Arian (Foster) makes things happen on his own, but I think as an offense and offensive line we wanted to make sure that he got that rushing title. That's something that you kind of hang your hat on a little bit on a down year and so we are really happy for him that he got that."
(on if he surprised how quickly he was able to make the transition from Kansas City to the Texans system this year) "I thought coming in I knew that I would fit this offense pretty well. It really just fit a lot of my strengths. I think that the last couple of years in Kansas City we started doing things very similar to things that were done down here. So I don't think that it'll be too much of an issue of fitting in. I just thought that getting in with my guys and learning what they're thinking and how they're doing things and us repping things and the more we did that I thought we were able to be successful."
RB Derrick Ward(on the concern that next season may be threatened because of a labor dispute) "It concerns me a lot. I mean, this is the only thing I've been doing for the last seven years. If we reach a lockout, it's going to be up in the air."
(on if the players talk about the possibility of next season being threatened by a labor dispute) "We really try not to. It's really pretty much out of our hands. We just got to worry about football, the football aspect of it and let our union guys handle it and go from there."
(on what happened this season) "Just a lot of bad, misfortune stuff. I've never been a part of a season where we had so many things go wrong against us. It was a disheartening feeling throughout the whole year. That's the game of football; you've got to make the plays when you have the opportunities. We didn't do that this year. We'll have a whole offseason to think about that and hopefully get ready for next year."
(on his performance this season) "I felt I did pretty good coming in here, helping (RB) Arian (Foster) and (RB) Steve Slaton become better football players. This is pretty much Arian's first year playing. The kid doesn't even know how good his future can be. He's still at a plateau. He doesn't know half the things he can be. I just try and stay on both of them and keep them on the straight and narrow. They've been doing a great job this year and I'm proud of both of them."
(on how much he enjoyed his role as a veteran this year) "I enjoyed it a lot. A lot of guys asked me for my experience throughout the league. I've won a Super Bowl, I had 1,000 yards rushing, I've had the big contract, so they're very interested in what I've done in my career. I try to pass on what I've been taught from other guys like Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan and stuff like that. I'm glad I got to play with these guys because they listened. They didn't just hear me. They actually listened to what I had to say, so I felt like I helped both of them out this year."
(on how remarkable RB Arian's Foster's accomplishments are in the last year) "Man, I've been in the league for a long time and I've never seen a guy play like he played this year. I've played behind Tiki Barber. I've played behind Curtis Martin when I was with the Jets. I've been around a lot of great backs. For him to have a season like he did this year, it was amazing. He can have an even better year next year if he puts his mind to it. But I'm proud of him."
(on what this team lacked) "I don't think we're lacking anything, we just have to finish. We didn't really finish this year. That's something we're going to have to work on individually and collectively as a group. All NFL games pretty much come down to the fourth quarter. We just didn't get it done in the fourth quarter. We'd be in it up until the fourth quarter and then the fourth quarter comes and we just couldn't finish. That's just something we're going to have to work on."
(on not having any official information from the club about what's going to happen with the coaching staff) "You're in the dark. You don't know. It's like a wait-and-see game. We're just waiting and seeing what happens. Me, personally, I think Coach (Gary) Kubiak is the perfect fit for this team. He gets all he can get out of us. He's a great leader and just being able to play for him this year, it helped me learn a lot more, as far as offense goes. Like I said, he's just a great fit here."
(on if he plans on being in Houston next year) "The team is great. The organization is great. Front office is great. It'd be nice to end my career here but that's not up to me. That's up to the guys upstairs, so we'll see."
(on if he gave RB Arian Foster advice on how to get a big contract) "Stay humble, keep doing what he's doing and it'll come for him. It'll come to him. He won't have to work for it because he'll be doing all the right things he needs to do already to get it."
(on his personal highlights from the season) "Beating Indianapolis. I came three days before that game. To come out here and see the crowd that's going crazy, wearing all white, and then to have the game that we had against the team that just played in the Super Bowl the year before, was a tremendous experience for me to have. I felt at home here once the season started."
(on what separates head coach Gary Kubiak from some of the other head coaches he's played for) "He's a player's coach. He understands where we're at. He used to be a player himself. He went from being a player to being a coach, so I think that kind of works in his favor because he can associate with what we do on the field, off the field, in the locker room, so he's pretty much down to earth when it comes to that. He'll still get on your butt though if you mess up. But he's fair, to sum it up. He's very fair."
(on what he's going to do with his time off) "I'm going to go see my daughter. I haven't seen her in a couple months, so I gotta go pick her up right now and then go back home to L.A. and just relax and spend some time with my daughter."
DE Mario Williams(on how he is feeling after having surgery on his sports hernia) "I'm moving around pretty good, so I'm pretty excited. We got that out of the way and now I've got to get back and go to rehab. It's like six to 10 weeks, but I'm feeling really good right now, so I think I'm ahead of the game. I'm just going to take it slow. I've got nothing but time."
(on whether he expects to be 100 percent at the start of next season) "I'm hoping by the end of this month. I'm kicking it - moving around, running around a little bit."
(on how he feels about the way the season went) "With the way things ended up, I'm glad we got the win at the end, but with the overall picture with giving up so many yards and not coming away with the wins that we wanted, that we should have had, having the lead in the fourth quarter and then losing the game multiple times, definitely that's devastating for us. We have to really take a look at it and figure out what it is."
(on whether it's hard to believe how many different ways things went wrong for the team this season) "Yeah. For a minute, it just seemed like, 'How many ways can we lose a game?' When you're winning, especially, or right there for it. It's like every week we were on TV being seen as like, 'Oh, wow. This happened. We thought it was over, but this happened.' So that's definitely tough to swallow and it's something that nobody could ever fathom that it could possibly happen."
(on how he would fit in a 3-4 defense if the Texans changed to that scheme) "I don't know. Hmmm, I don't know. That's really tough. I can say I don't see me playing a head-up four-technique. So I can say that, but who knows? If it happens, obviously we've got to make adjustments, but I don't know about seeing me as a defensive end at that point."
(on Bruce Smith's success at defensive end in a 3-4 scheme) "Yeah, that would be cool, but traditionally, I guess now most of the time they're head-up guys, so I don't know. Yeah, if things were tweaked around, yeah, that would be fine, but the whole four-technique thing is something I've never been accustomed to doing."
(on DE Antonio Smith's comments that neither he nor Williams are two-gap linemen) "Yeah, I can say that Antonio, he's more apt to grinding on the inside from the positions that he's played. He's played three-technique and nose and shaded and stuff like that; but me, if I have to do it, I have to do it, but it definitely would be a huge change."
(on whether it worries him that the defense might change so dramatically) "No, I can't let it worry me because I've got to have faith in everybody that we'll be put in positions to make plays and positions that we're used to being in."
(on whether he agrees with DE Antonio Smith's statement that he would welcome change if it meant winning) "If it definitely put us in a position to go out and be more productive and have a chance to go out there and win things on defense for a change consistently, then definitely, I would be apt to doing that."
(on what the biggest adjustment would be for him if the defense changed to a 3-4 scheme) "For one thing, we would need a huge nose tackle most likely. We've got big guys, but it's just a totally different animal whenever you've got a head-up nose technique basically on top of the center. I mean, for example for that, he has to play both A gaps kind of, play backside sometimes, hunker down in the run being head-up on the center. For a defensive end, you're up on the tackle; if a pass develops, you're pretty much rushing the guard. So I mean, it's just a lot of different things. It just all depends on the scheme of things and how things turn out, like you were saying about how we would do it and implement it."
(on what all of the speculation in the media might mean for defensive coordinator Frank Bush) "You know, I have no idea. I guess we'll figure out everything pretty shortly here, but I don't know. All I can say is us as players out there, us playing, we didn't get the numbers and the productivity that we should have or we wouldn't be having this discussion. So best wishes to anybody and everybody, including myself."
(on whether this was the toughest year since he was drafted in 2006) "Yeah, definitely. Definitely. With just everything that's been going on, it was hard to swallow this whole year."
(on whether his surgery went better than expected) "I think so, but it's a pretty highly successful surgery, so I never really had a worry about it. It's just one of those things that you have to get over the initial hump of having to do it."
(on whether he had the surgery in Philadelphia) "Yes."
(on whether he went to the same specialist that he visited after the Baltimore game on December 13) "No."
(on if he saw a different doctor) "(Laughing) It's classified. No, I don't know if I can say all of that."
(on whether his contract status is on his mind) "It is what it is. All I can say is I'm just excited about fixing my groin or whatever and coming back and working hard and just looking forward to next year, and whatever happens, happens. That's pretty much what I said this year with the whole groin thing was whatever the cards turn over, then they turn over."
(on the possibility of a work stoppage cutting into next season) "Yeah, that's true, too. We don't really know if we're going to play a season next year. Don't know if it's going to count or whatever, so who knows? We've just got to go and see what happens."
(on when he expects to return to training at full strength) "You mean like running? Like I said, hopefully at the start of February. Hopefully, February we're out running around. I'm kind of slowly doing stuff right now for core starting this week. This is two weeks out, starting tomorrow, from surgery and actually I'm going to start doing upper body right now as long as it's not bothering my groin."
(on what type of core strength exercises he has been doing) "Just the physio ball, sit-ups, just anything to do core stuff, basically. We have a big program in there that we're doing and just pretty much working through that."
S Eugene Wilson(on his hopes going forward for him and the Texans) "That we could just get this fixed and next year just come back strong. Especially defensively because we got the guys to do it and if we could get that right, we should really be good."
(on if he's concerned about a change on staff on the defensive side of the ball) "It's possible. It's a real good chance. It's got to be some change. If they keep everything the same we will just have the same results. Most definitely there will be some changes."
(on how hard it would be for him to see changes affecting his teammates and coaching staff) "Well everybody understands it's a business. Whether you're here or not, it's a business. You just got to go with what they are going to do upstairs."