The Texans concluded minicamp Thursday morning at the Methodist Training Center and after, several members of the organization spoke to the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Chairman and CEO Bob McNairHead Coach Gary KubiakExecutive Vice President/General Manager Rick SmithOLB Whitney Mercilus
Chairman and CEO Bob McNair
(opening statement) "Well, I just wanted to announce to you that we have completed contractual negotiations with key people within our organization. We think stability is extremely important to the success of this team. I'm real pleased with the leadership group that we've got and we've previously had (President) Jamey Rootes sign a new contract, so he'll be with us on the business side. Cal McNair has been named chief operating officer, so he'll be helping out on the football side and we have just signed contract extensions with our head coach, Gary Kubiak and we've done the same with our general manager, Rick Smith.
We believe that this is an outstanding group of men and I think you're going to see a lot of success for the organization as a result of having them in place for an extended period of time. And as I've said earlier, I do think stability is very important and all of these people work well together and they are committed to bringing a championship to Houston. That's our goal and that's what we work for everyday. I'm real pleased that we were able to bring this about."
(on how long the contract extension is for Head Coach Gary) "Gary (Kubiak) is extended, it's really a new contract, but it's three years and that was his choice. It could have been four years but Gary has assured me that with the level of success he's going to have that he's going to be worth a lot more money if at three years instead of four and so I had to agree with him."
(on how long the contract extension is for Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Smith) "Rick's (Smith) is a four-year extension, so he'll be with us over that period of time. They've both done outstanding jobs. I think the coaching performance last year of Gary (Kubiak) was outstanding with the injuries that we had. I don't know how he could have done a better job. In terms of personnel, you've seen our personnel get better each year and Rick and the scouts have really worked hard to be in the position to find talent and to bring them in and bring in free agents. I want to point out that the way we operate, that even though Rick's responsible for personnel and draft, he works with Gary and Gary has his input into that. And likewise, Gary is the one who decides who's going to be on the field but he works with Rick in terms of the personnel we have and what players we need to bring in and who should be on the roster. So it's really a cooperative effort and I think that that brings about the success that we've enjoyed."
(on if Head Coach Gary Kubiak's contract extension is for 2012-14) "Correct. That's correct."
(on if Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Smith's contract extension begins in 2013 and goes until 2016) "That's correct."
(on the timing of the contract extensions and not letting negotiations drag on) "Well, we wanted to do it. We had other things that were more important because they wanted to be here and we wanted them here, so it wasn't a matter of extreme urgency. We did it when it was convenient for them and for us and when things had slowed down a bit."
(on Gary Kubiak's best quality as a head coach) "Well I think he treats the players fairly. I think sometimes you see instances where coaches play favorites and he doesn't play favorites. I think long-term that's important because it shows up after awhile. I think that and I think the fact he holds everybody accountable and treats everybody equally in respect to their accountability. It doesn't matter whether you're the quarterback or whether you're on special teams, you're accountable for performing your job and if you don't do your job, you're going to hear from Gary (Kubiak). It's a side of Gary that the general public doesn't see, but he's a very demanding coach. They see him on the sidelines calm, cool and collected most of the time. But in terms of practice, those of you who are out here and see the practices, he really stays on top of things and demands that people do it right and keep doing it until they do it right."
(on the progress Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Smith has made since they joined the organization in 2006) "Well, they both were rookies. I was a rookie owner at one time. Can't say that anymore. It takes a little time to learn your job and work with others and determine how things mesh and I think we have gotten better as we've gone along. I think they know each other well and they work well together and they listen to each other and I think that's extremely important."
(on what made him stay the course 18 months ago when fans were calling for a change at head coach and/or general manager) "Well, I heard all of that but ultimately I had to make that decision and I felt that Gary (Kubiak) was a good coach then and that we needed to strengthen our coaching staff and that if we did that that we would get the kind of performance we were looking for. In the case of the general manager, I felt that we were doing a good job, building a good, solid base. It takes a lot of players. It's not just two or three. It takes a lot of players, a lot of very good players and it takes time to put that foundation together. But I could see that that was happening and I just felt we needed to continue."
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on what it means to him to receive a contract extension) "It's an honor. It's a big responsibility, and since the day I walked in here, it's been a dream situation for me to come back home and to build a winner here in Houston. I am just very thankful to (Texans Chairman and CEO) Bob and Janice (McNair), and that their family has entrusted me with this situation and has done it again for a few more years. I'm just very proud to be a part of it and I've always told you guys I pride myself on fulfilling contracts, not so much signing them; and I've got another one to fulfill here and I'm looking forward to it."
(on why he agreed to a three-year contract extension rather than a four-year extension) "I don't know. I've always done my own stuff from a contract standpoint, so that's just something I felt comfortable with, and when (Texans Chairman and CEO) Bob (McNair) and I sat down, it didn't take any time at all. I enjoy working for him; he's a great man, he's got a great family and he wants to win and win the right way, so it's easy for me."
(on the importance of having a strong relationship with Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Smith) "That's really grown, because we were both so young when we got started, both our first time, and both have a big responsibility in various areas of the organization and the football team. I think Rick's (Smith) done a tremendous job of putting talent on the field for us to coach, and that's what it's all about. If you don't have players, it doesn't matter how good a job you're doing coaching, it's going to be hard. I think he's done a great job with our roster, and we've got a dang good staff, so we're heading in the right direction, but we've got a big, big challenge ahead of us this year, so we need to keep going."
(on if his contract extension is an example of the value in staying the course) "Oh, yeah. If you coach in this League, especially as a head coach, you're going to go through tough times. It's hard to win in this business, and when we got started, we knew we had a lot of work to do. (Texans Chairman and CEO) Bob (McNair) stayed the course with our program through a very tough time two years ago and as a coach, I've learned to stay the course regardless because I've been doing it so long, but we were rewarded last year from that standpoint. We just need to stay consistent. We're doing things the right way, but we need to stay consistent and keep working, and hopefully more good things to come."
(on the significance of everyone on staff and on the team knowing that he has job stability as the head coach) "It means a lot. I know it's a great message to the players and everybody from Bob that he believes in what we're doing and where we're heading. You're not going to be successful in this business if you're not all in it together, and I think that's why we've made the progress we've made. From top to bottom in the organization, we're all headed in the same direction, and that's been the key thing."
(on his thoughts about how the four weeks of OTAs and mini-camp went) "I think it's been good. I was frustrated yesterday, y'all know, I had the young guys out here for the last three days, but I think we've made a lot of progress. The core of our football team and the veteran guys I feel very good about. I think a big key to our season this year is do we find four or five more guys out of that group that just left the field that become big-time contributors to our team. That's going to be the key, so we have really got to demand that some of these young guys grow up very, very fast, so we're going to stay on them, we're going go to coach the heck out of them. I've always promised y'all this team will work hard and play hard, and like I said, big challenges ahead but we're looking forward to having a good team."
(on his feelings now as opposed to at the end of the 2010 season, when his job security was in doubt) "There's a lot of trying times in this business. We've been through a lot of ups and downs, and that's part of it; that's part of coaching, it's part of playing. The way I look at it, yeah, that was tough, but I felt good about what we were doing; I knew we were heading in the right direction. I love the game, I love to teach, I love to coach. I plan on doing it for a long, long time and I'm very, very happy that (Texans Chairman and CEO) Bob (McNair) continues to give me an opportunity to do it here."
(on whether he ever felt after the 2010 season that he might not be in the position he's in now) "I'm concerned all the time. I worry about how we play, how we're prepared, how we do things. Regardless of what I was doing, I would hope that regardless of what job I was doing, I would take that concern with me every day and try to be the best that I could be. So I was no different than I am today and you'll get the same effort from me all the time. Like I said, I've got a lot of good people around me and I'm looking forward to getting back to work."
(on the play of kickers Randy Bullock and Shayne Graham throughout OTAs and mini-camp) "They're both very capable of being our kicker, so it'll be interesting to see who wins the job, but it'll be very competitive."
(on what concerns him while the players are on their own for the next six weeks) "It's a self-motivation deal. That's all you can do is preach to them. I think last year is a great example. I think our guys really handled their business very well and guys don't know what you've been doing until you show up on the 27th (of July). I think we've got the right guys and they'll continue to work; and we've got some players that have got ground to make up like Schaub and Johnson and people like that, so it's a very, very important time for them."
(on the status of rookie G Brandon Brooks) "He's fine. Brandon is fine. He's doing OK. He's alright."
Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Smith
(on his contract extension) "I have been and remain eternally grateful for the opportunity to help this franchise build a champion and I stay that way today. We come to work every day committed to doing what we need to do in order to make that happen. Bob (McNair) is committed. Cal (McNair) is committed. Gary (Kubiak) and Jamey (Rootes), all of us are. I'm just excited about the opportunity to continue that. I think we've set the foundation for success and we've had a little bit of that last year and I think we're in position to continue that."
(on what it means to have the stability from a contract extension in the NFL) "Well, it is significant. It is significant. I think it speaks to Bob's (McNair) belief in continuity and consistency. He's a patient man and he proved that and sometimes it really is a virtue. In this case, I do believe that, as I said, that we're positioned; and one of the things that is important to us is that we're a consistent winner. It takes time to put processes in place and to get players and coaches. That's the one thing I'm really excited about. I think we've got a fantastic coaching staff. People talk all the time about our talent, but our coaching staff, it's one of the best. You've got to have that in order to develop players and that's a big part of sustained success. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to win on a consistent basis. I think, again, that we're set up to do that."
(on how he thinks he has grown in his job) "You guys don't have enough time. It's too hot out here for me to tell you how much in all the various ways that I've grown. That's something that's important to me. I do a lot of self-evaluation on a daily basis because I think that it's important that every day, you try and be as good as you can be. In doing so, I think there has to be a lot of self-analysis and evaluation and I try to do that. I'm always checking in with myself to make sure I'm learning or at least attempting to learn all the lessons that are out here for me to learn. I do think I have grown in the position. There's a long way for me to continue to grow and I look forward to that."
(on the importance of stability with the organization) "I think, first, if you don't see it in your mind, it won't happen. I've seen it before and it's coming fruition. I do think that we have made strides over the last few years and while we saw the success on the field from win-loss and playoff qualifying standpoint, I do think there has been a lot of good work that has been done over the years. I do think that what we've done in the past gives us a chance to continue that."
(on signing OLB Whitney Mercilus so early) "I tell you what, that's a nice relief for us. In some respects, it's better for (Vice President, Football Administration) Chris Olsen because he's the guy in the trenches doing all the contract negotiations. He does a fantastic job and again, is doing another fantastic job with our draft class. We've got two more guys to get signed and I'm confident that we'll get that done before we go to camp."
(on the chemistry and synergy between him and Head Coach Gary Kubiak) "That's something, I've never known Gary (Kubiak) to use that word, but it is a synergy that we have between us. I liken it to horsepower. If you link a horse to a chain and you go out to the field and you've got one horsepower. But if you link two of them up and they know what they're doing and they've been trained, it's not two horsepower. It's exponential. Gary and I, we know each other. We're comfortable with each other and so we support each other. We can disagree and come to agreements when we do disagree. The thing about the two of us is that we have the same goal and we have the same goal that Mr. McNair has and everybody has. That's to do everything we can do to win championships. That's what I tell every player. When we sign every player, I'll sit down with them and tell them that I wear a lot of hats as GM. I've got a lot of responsibilities, but the main thing that I do is every decision that I make is predicated on doing everything I can do to make sure that these coaches and players have everything that they need to be successful. That's at the core of what I'm responsible for."
(on what he's seen from the team thus far) "I'm pleased. First of all, you see right away that our guys are far along in the systems and schemes. The other thing that just jumps out, and this has been pretty consistent over the last few years, is the effort. Guys are working hard. It's hot out here and that's a part of what makes our football team because we are well-conditioned. I have seen the group of men that are working and coming together. I see a lot of belief in what they're doing and in each other and that's important, so I'm excited about the season."
(on the challenges of having new faces) "That's a part of the National Football League. We've got to get those guys to come in and find their place without forcing their way. It has to happen naturally and organically and that's a part of what training camp is about. It's a part of what these OTAs have been about. I don't have any doubt with the type of men that we have in our locker room, we'll find our way to a group of people when we get to that 53-man roster that all believe in themselves and all believe in each other. We'll have that common goal to go win a championship."
(on how important is it to get extensions for players done between now and the start of the season) "We do have that tradition and I think it's important because when you are singularly focused on a goal, it gives you the best chance to reach that goal. Once a football season starts, we tend to put the contract and the business part of it to the side. We understand that and our players understand that. To the degree that we can get deals done prior to that, we'll work earnestly to get that done."
(on if this is a special set of circumstances where that might change) "If I step back and just philosophically talk about it, I don't think it's a good practice to bend philosophies based on situations. I think that if you have something that you believe in and it's a fundamental belief, then I tend to not waver on that, if it's something that makes sense. In this case, I think it makes sense to keep our guys focused on football. I would anticipate that I would not change that."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on signing his contract) "I finally got it signed. It's great to get it off my mind and just concentrate straight on football and everything. Just more concentrating instead of having a monkey on my back, no doubt and just getting in front of the fans."
(on if he was concerned about when the contract would get done) "No, I wasn't concerned about it. I knew it was going to get done eventually because the new CBA is already set and locked up and they traditionally do it their way and all that. My agent fought for it and we finally got it signed."
(on if he was surprised that his contract got done so quickly) "I'm not sure how to answer that. Last year, a lot of people, they hold out and things like that, so their contract goes in February. I wasn't worried that my agent would get it done as soon as possible or whenever. I wasn't too worried about it. Just try to keep it off my mind so I could concentrate on football."
(on if he ever discussed not coming out to OTAs or mini-camp with his agent for fear of suffering an injury without a contract) "Nah. There was no discussion like that. I was ready to come in and get to work right away to show why they picked me in the first round with the 26th pick and get familiar with the system."
(on if he and other rookies sign an agreement with teams that they get taken care of if they are injured prior to signing their contracts) "Yeah. There's a protection agreement. If I get hurt, that won't penalize me for not getting signed or paid or anything like that."
(on how much he's grown as a player in the last four weeks of mini-camp and OTAs) "I've grown up a lot, pretty fast, too. They shot it straight at us really fast, a hundred miles per hour and it's a lot of information to take in. But it was our time for these three days of the mini-camp to actually grow up and graduate and basically go out here and execute what they call."
(on whether he has learned anything that he never expected to learn) "No, not really. It's the same basic fundamentals in football; it's just some teams use one technique more than others. I used one technique at the University of Illinois, but they want a different technique here, so that's what all I've been learning here."
(on what he does during his free time since moving to Houston) "Basically, just go back to work and just stay on it. I'll be staying down here, just getting used to this heat and the killer in July."
(on when the dollar signs on his new contract first hit him) "It hasn't hit me yet. Those are big numbers on paper, until it hits my account. Then I might freak out a little bit."
(on if he has thought about what his first big purchase is going to be) "No, I just need to get probably a place or something. I can just rent an apartment until I can find somewhere to live here."
(on what he's driving right now) "Nothing right now."
(on whether he has plans to go car shopping) "Probably."
(on what it means to him to get paid that much money to play a game he's played his whole life) "It's actually amazing to me that I've progressed this far. As a little kid, you imagine it, you see the players on TV and all that and you say you're going to be up there one day. I was like that when I was little, but it never really solidified in my head until I was in college."
(on not being able to take too much of a break between now and training camp) "Oh, no. It's a big learning curve, no doubt, but the level of competition is way harder than what college is because everybody is good, so you have to stay on point and stay well-conditioned all year round."