The Texans practiced Thursday and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and quarterback T.J. Yates answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips
Quarterback T.J. Yates
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on Saturday's game and preparing for this weekend) "We had a few nervous mistakes, but it was good. We had a good week of work and we're all in one piece. We probably have a decision to make on Troy Nolan and (Sherrick) McManis right now, probably and (Bryan) Braman is probably our biggest decisions going into the game, but other than that we're ready to go."
(on G Mike Brisiel and his injury) "He's fine, he'll start. Mike will start and like I said I don't know if Mike's ready to go back and play the whole game, but (Antoine) Caldwell will play, but Mike's had a good week. Amazing to come off of that that quick. Whoever the doctor was that did (Danieal) Manning's surgery and Mike's, I would recommend him very highly, because they came back very quickly. "
(on if he thinks he will have to calm his team down before the game on Saturday) "I don't know. I'll see. I mean, I kind of know them. I know how they react in the locker room and those type of things. Our guys are usually at their best when they're really emotional. Our guys play with emotion. I want them to do that. You know, if anything, today's practice was kind of, you know, trying to make sure we corrected things, because our speed and all that was tremendous, but making sure we're on the same page mentally with some of the key things that could happen in the game. So, they've been pretty good about it all year, you know, we'll feel them out here over the course of the next few days, but they've handled themselves very well."
(on how important it is to have defensive coordinator Wade Phillips back for Saturday's game) "It's very important. It was important to have him back last week. His presence with the team in the last two weeks is extremely important and the biggest thing is we're just glad to see him doing better and what he went through was a very difficult surgery and for him to be back on his feet and basically putting in a half a day with us right now and being able to go do and that's coach football and call a game, you know, we're all glad that that's happening."
(on if defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has a calming influence) "Yeah, well y'all know Wade. Y'all know his personality. I mean, he's got everything under control all the time and when the game gets crazy and it's a big play in the game, somebody's got to make a call, that's what players are looking for. They're looking for somebody that has confidence, that's going to put them in the right position to be successful and Wade's done that for many, many years."
(on what surprised him most about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips coaching) "I think the biggest thing is that we've been able to grow all year long. I think, and I've said this many times, Wade and the staff, without the offseason, you know, with the new defense, we could have came in and in a lot of ways just run them down from a standpoint of overloading mentally. We started very basic. We played very basic for probably about the first two or three weeks. The first two or three weeks of the season we continued to grow and input as the season went along, so I thought their patience with the growth of the defense, not overloading the guys was probably the key to our continued success throughout the course of the season. So, I thought they did a hell of a job."
(on if he was surprised DE J.J. Watt and OLB Brooks Reed developed as quickly as they did) "Well, I really wasn't that surprised about J.J. just because, you know, by studying him, getting to know him throughout the course of the draft preparation I thought he would play very early. He's very mature. With Brooks, there was a question. He was going from his hand down to his hand up, so he had a position change. You know, you lose Mario Williams, you've got to step in there for Mario Williams so how's he going to react to that? We knew he'd be a good player, but I think the job he did as quickly as he's done has been exceptional."
(on if defensive coordinator Wade Phillips deserves another head coaching opportunity) "I think so. I think he, first off, everywhere he's been he's been successful. I mean he's been successful doing everything he's done. Whether it's assistant or coordinator or head coach and he's tremendous with people and tremendous with coaches so, you know, those guys deserve a lot of chances so I would say no doubt."
(on the main thing he wants the team to carry into the first playoff game) "I think you just trust yourself. You know, that's probably the biggest thing I learned from Coach Seifert and Coach Shanahan. When it came playoff time you don't all the sudden try to be somebody you're not. Stay consistent, believe in your players, believe in what you've been doing so, you know, that's what I'm trying to hold true to right here and you know, I what them to cut it loose. I want them to play. I want them to have fun. They've earned a right to go out there and compete this weekend. They're one of twelve teams and I think they should enjoy it, so we're looking forward to it."
(on what OLB Connor Barwin has added to the team) "He's been exceptional. You know, think about how far he's come. I mean, really he's a rookie in a lot of ways after the injury he went through last year and to play the way he's played I think he's played at a Pro Bowl level. Connor has got a brilliant future ahead of him, I mean, with how far he's come, he's been a big, big leader on our football team and we're all very proud of him."
(on if the approach to the playoffs has changed since his last time here) "No. I mean, it's just, you know, the stakes are raised. You can feel the difference. I mean, over here dealing with y'all everyday is a lot different than how I deal with y'all during the season. Players it's the same thing. I mean, the atmosphere changes for everybody. I mean, I think we're the only game on at what, 3:30 this Saturday, so normally there's a lot of football games played in this League. Everything just gets isolated and I think as a player you feel that because you've watched what's happened the last few days, but you know, from right now on, I told them whatever you normally do on a Friday afternoon or however you prepare Friday and Saturday for a Sunday game you do things the same way and that's what we're going to try to do here."
(on the amount of time he is putting in this week to prepare) "I don't know. Whatever it takes."
(on if it's still like a normal workday of at least 8-9 hours or is more time added in) "Yeah, at least that many."
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans saying the past few days of practice have been the best of the season) "Well, they're very focused on what they're doing and they're hard on each other this week and that's a good thing. You know, when players push each other, when players put pressure on each other to do things right, to prepare the right way, that's when your team comes together and they've done that all year, but they've been exceptional this week. They've had a great week and they're ready to play and like I said, I just want them to go cut it loose, have some fun, and play the game."
(on the teams fullback situation from the season) "You know, he's done a heck of a job. You know, it's been an interesting situation for us at fullback. We started off the season, we were a little bit different offensive football team with James (Casey), moving James around and doing some things and we were playing extremely well. You know, we lost James, Lawrence (Vickers) came in, we became more physical. Then we played well during that stretch when he was in, much more physical, much more two back, that type of stuff and then now we adjust again. We get James back, we're trying to use them both so, Lawrence has done his job, he's been a nice addition to this team. I tell Lawrence all the time I think he's got a chance to be one of the top fullbacks in the game and I believe that. You know, he's young and I think he fits what we do so I think his future is very bright."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on practice this week) "We did well in practice this week. I mean that's what you're looking for. I thought our enthusiasm was… When you've been run down a little bit like I have and you get around the players and they're excited as they are, I think that helps everything. They're genuinely practicing the way we did I think before we played Cincinnati really. I think that kind of mindset, just the intensity of the practice, although we've practiced good all along. It's a good practicing team. You know, Danieal Manning must had eight interceptions in practice this week. He's been a phenom. We've had our defensive linemen just dominate. Our linebackers, outside backers have rest real well, so we're pointing towards the game. I think we're building towards a ball game, and we're looking forward to it."
(on his health and energy level) "Well, my energy level isn't where I want it to be. I feel good going out there, and the last couple of days have been better, going the whole practice, that kind of thing. I feel good, and then my energy's kind of dropped, but health-wise I'm fine. Got a couple different doctors. I saw one yesterday, and they said they didn't need to see me anymore, that I'm fine, so it's progressing real well."
(on specific details of his treatment) "Well, there's been a lot of things said about it obviously. Yeah, I got sick one day, non-related, and Dr. Muntz took me in and he said, 'We better see what's going on down there.' Why he did that or whatever, I'm still blessed for that because they found something that needed to get done, and we did it very quickly. Everything came out well. I did have my gallbladder taken out. It was more than we thought it was originally, but it's still done, and everything's positive."
(on specific details of what "more treatment" was) "No, I really don't want to get into the medical part of it. I know my dad, he tells those things, but he tells a lot of things, but it's okay when you're 88. You can say what you want."
(on his father's divulging information regarding his health and the veracity of such information) "Yeah, well, I tell you some of it is, and some of it isn't, so you just got to take it with a grain of salt. Bottom line is I'm fine, and things are progressing well. It's going to take me about six weeks total to get full energy back and to be moving around and start lifting and things like that."
(on hours he's working per weekday) "I run down about five o'clock. That's kind of when I run down, but it's been getting better. I've been here this week for all the game plan, which I hadn't been previously, so all the game plan stuff, all the real necessary stuff I think for the ball game I've been here for."
(on having a chair in the press box) "Yeah, I'll have a chair in the press box."
(on difficulty of coaching from the press box instead of being hands-on on the sideline) "Well, it's not a big problem. We got all our coaches down on the field. Most the time, I go over with the coaches on the sideline before the players get off, that kind of thing, what we need to talk about, and then we all look at the pictures and so forth and see if there are things we need to adjust. It's not a big deal. They say you can see more, which you can, in the press box, but I usually know what's going on anyway. That's why I can stand on the sideline is whatever happens, I usually see it on the field."
(on why the defense was only able to get to QB Andy Dalton four times in the regular season game) "Well, I think they're one of the least sacked teams in the league, and we've sacked them more than anybody. I'm not sure it's a negative that we only got to him a few times. He's going to get rid of the football. They've done a really nice job with him as far as throwing the football, but also getting rid of the football, not taking bad plays, those kind of things. We look for the same thing this time from him."
(on if making the playoffs with this team has been personally gratifying after the situation at the end of his tenure in Dallas) "Yeah, being in the playoffs, hopefully winning a playoff game like we did a year ago would be spectacular, so sure it's personally gratifying. I think you want to prove that you can do what you say you can do or that you think you can do, and you want to prove you're a good coach. That's all coaching is really is you want to prove what kind of job we can do coaching-wise. I'm proud of what we did in Dallas, but I think this year has been special."
(on his coaching style) "Well, everybody thinks a hard ass is the guy, the way to coach. I'm from my dad's school of teaching and coaching and treating people the right way and believing in people. Some people say, 'You believe in people too much, and that's what hurts you,' but when I ask them to do something or I tell them, 'Hey, I want this done this way,' I expect that, and they know that. I think that's part of whether you're a hard ass or not, you got to get it over to them on how you want it done and the correct way to do it and to continue to do that all the time. That's my style is a certain way. It's been that way for a long time. The results are fairly good. We haven't had many losing seasons in the last twenty years."
(on ILB Brian Cushing's comments of not wanting to let him down) "Well, that helps. Just coming in and them having respect for what you've done helps you a lot too. People, when they hear about these things and you've done all these things and that kind of thing, they're looking for something when you come in, at least the times I've been, the last several times I've gone to coordinator or to head coach. The team was looking for something, and they thought I had it. I think I do a little bit to help them, but it's them believing in themselves is what it turns out to be. They believe in themselves because they believe in what you're telling them, and that's the key.
(on ILB Brian Cushing's potential) "Yeah, Brian Cushing's the best linebacker at least in the AFC that I've seen this year. He's an outstanding player. He reminds me a little bit of Chris Spielman except he's a lot faster. I had Spielman at the end of his career in Buffalo, and he had great instinct. Spielman made plays all over the field, but he couldn't play on third downs because of his speed overall. He could play. I mean we did play him some, but Cushing has it all. He can play every down, and he plays every down harder than anybody I've seen, and he plays them better than most people I've seen. He makes more outstanding plays sideline to sideline than any guys I see."
(on hearing from former colleagues in Dallas since making the playoffs) "Yeah, more on the health related thing than anything starting out, certainly. Yeah, I know one of their coaches real well, and he's going to come in and bring my grandbabies, so I'm happy about that."
(on the difficulties of dealing with his health issues during this period of time) "Well, it actually worked well for me health-wise because of Dr. Muntz because evidently I've had this for a long time. It wasn't just come on. They said it could have been three or four years. The health-wise, it actually, timing-wise, we win at Cincinnati and wrap up the division. If we'd had one more or two more games to wrap up the division, it would have been a little tougher I think. I wouldn't have postponed anything because that's what we needed to get done, but it all worked out fine that way, and now we're ready for the playoffs, so I think it worked out all right."
(on watching OLB Connor Barwin grow as a player) "Connor, you know, we knew he could play or we felt like he was an outside linebacker prospect. With Mario (Williams) playing well we penciled him into Sam and he played that well starting out and then Mario got hurt and then he just kept getting better and better. You know, 11.5 sacks, he probably had one or two called back, but he had 11.5 sacks and Mario had five, that's 16.5 at that position. So, he helped that position remain dominant for us and that's what you need in a 3-4."
(on his desire to be a head coach again and if he thinks he will be given the chance) "Well, you know, I said, I don't like to toot my own horn. I've got a good record. I think I should be considered. I guess people may have taken it the wrong way that I ought to be a head coach. I don't believe that. I think I should be considered. If you look at my record, and you can look at all the people they're talking about now, and my record is better than most everyone they're talking about, as a head coach I'm talking about. If you want a winner, if you want experience, you know, I'd like to talk about it, but this is the best job I've had. It couldn't be a better job than this, right now and if we keep going the way I think we're going to go, and we're going to be good for a long time, especially defensively I think. So, you know, I'm not looking to go anywhere. I enjoyed being a head coach, I enjoyed the winning, and we're winning here, so that's important too, but I think I could help anybody. I mean, it's been proven, you know, if you want to go on the record."
(on how special it is to be a part of the Texans first playoff game in history) "You know, I was here, in fact I interviewed here when they first had the team and I wanted, you know, I was part of the Oilers when they left. So, Houston, it wasn't a Houston, Tennessee, it's just Houston, and once Houston got back and they came back, that was something special to me. That's where I'm from. That's where I believe in. That's where I started my career is in Houston so I hoped the best for them no matter who they took as the coaches and to see them get to where we are now is great, but we're not satisfied. Anyone who thinks this team is satisfied is wrong. I'm going to tell you that right now. We're not looking to just be in the playoffs, we're looking to win and that's what our goal is and that's what we're after this week. We're after to win. We said 1-0 all year and that's what we're going to go this week and then the next week and then the next week and the next week so that's where we are."
QB T.J. Yates
(on staying focused this week) "There's so much energy flying around this week with everybody at practice and in the media, everybody getting stuff figured out with their families and their tickets stuff. It's kind of hard to stay in the same routine, especially myself. I'm trying to keep everything the same just like a normal week. Go through your preparation the same, doing stuff the same night as far as watching film and studying and everything, just so you don't get out of whack at all and start thinking about outside stuff."
(on what it means to be in the playoffs) "It means a lot. It's a very special thing for this organization and this team. It's definitely some different circumstances for me to be in this situation as far as the two guys in front of me getting hurt. I'm trying to take full advantage of the situation and try to do whatever I can to go out and help this team get the playoff victory."
(on what QBs Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart have helped him with) "Just every day, every practice, every film session, every time we're doing something, they're always helping me out with all the little stuff. Matt Schaub has been in this offense for a very long time and has a lot of information that even some of the coaches don't have because he's been through it all. He's run these plays before many, many times, so often referring back to him on just little tidbits he has on certain plays and just trying to pick his brain as much as possible because he's got so much information up there that's so helpful. He helps me out a lot."
(on the team not being satisfied with just making it to the playoffs) "Yeah, absolutely. We have goals and first off, one of our goals was to get to the playoffs, but that goal is behind us now. We're here to win football games and just because this franchise has got here for the first time in a long time doesn't mean that we're letting up or that's all we want to do. This team is very motivated to go way beyond that and I think we'll do that this weekend."
(on the high energy at practice) "Absolutely, the energy at practice these last couple days has been remarkable. Guys are excited to be out there flying around, yelling, screaming. The energy is encouraging and it's contagious. It's going throughout the whole team, the coaches, the coaching staff. Everybody's getting amped up, getting ready to play this game."
(on if he's had any time to enjoy the ride of the season) "Yeah, I'll definitely worry about that later. Right now, we're very focused. This game plan we've got going in is a big one. It means a lot to us and everybody across the board is taking a lot of time to study and making sure we're ready to play and at the top of our game."
(on if he gets enjoyment out of playing a team after studying them all week) "Yeah, just trying to study as much as possible, so when you go into that game, you don't have to think too much. You can kind of just go out there and react. I think that's when I play my best football when I'm not thinking too much. I just go out there and play football and I kind of let the game come to me. If you put in a hard week of full preparation in getting ready, when it comes to that game time, everybody's calm and ready to play."
(on what QBs Jake Delhomme and Jeff Garcia have told him about the playoffs) "It's faster. Everything's amped up. It's kind of like the transition from preseason to regular season. The level of play keeps stepping up. Everything's faster. Everything's quicker. Everybody's going at that next level and you got to step up as well."
(on the players having a higher level of accountability this week) "I've noticed it a lot. Everybody is on their P's and Q's this week. We can't settle for having little mistakes that kind of set us back during the week throughout practice. It's all over the team. Nobody's letting anybody slack off a little bit, scout team, anywhere. Everybody's being extremely accountable and I think that's important going into a big game like this."
(on if he's thought about making the playoffs in his first year when some players never make it) "Yeah, a little bit, but that makes it even more important for the guys that have put in the work on this team, the Andre Johnsons that have been here for forever and stuck with this organization and waited for a moment like this. It makes you want to work harder for them just so it can make the moment for them more special."