Texans coach Gary Kubiak spoke at his weekly news conference at Reliant Stadium, and quarterback Sage Rosenfels and cornerback Dunta Robinson also spoke to the media on Monday.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on if there is anything he can do on defense that he hasn't done) "Yeah, I think obviously we've got to find some more ways to be effective. We have played a lot of guys. We'll continue to do that. We got a good look at a young player this weekend in (LB Xavier) Adibi, who was exceptional in the game. (He) had 14 tackles, a couple of tackles on special teams. We've got to take a look at (CB Antwaun) Molden and continue to take a look at what we're doing and try to get better each week, try to give our guys a way to be successful. But I don't think you've ever emptied yourself out. We've still got a lot of football left to play, so we've got to figure out some ways to get better."
(on why he thinks there is a lack of success on the road) "First off, it's tough to win on the road in the National Football League, regardless of where you're playing. If you're not playing well, it makes it even tougher. We've had our opportunities this year. We had an opportunity at Jacksonville. We had an opportunity yesterday. We had a bunch of opportunities at Tennessee early in the year, but it usually comes down to how you're playing. Turnovers have been a big part of our problems on the road, not so (much) yesterday until the last few minutes, but you've got to play exceptional on the road. You've got to play clean. You've got to play exceptional and get a few breaks, and we haven't done that, so no excuses."
(on what are the teams doing against the run defense in the second half that they aren't in the first) "I'm looking at yesterday. I think, to me, when I looked at yesterday, one of the things for sure that we did not do as well in the second half that we did in the first half, we did not tackle as well. We knew that we were trying to force them to run the ball, and in the first half, we did an excellent job of tackling. When they were running the ball, those plays were two-, three-yard gains. We're playing the same type of defense in the second half, the same type of things and all of the sudden you miss a few tackles here or there and those become eight-, nine-yard plays. So that's all it takes for all of the sudden they go from doing something ineffectively to effectively and they were very committed to it. So I think that was the biggest problem yesterday."
(on if he thinks the problem on defense is the players, scheme or defensive calls) "I just think we've found ways to break down, whether it's breaking down assignment-wise, (or) breaking down (by), like I said, not tackling well yesterday in the second half. Obviously, as coaches, we can always do a better job. But when you're not doing something effectively in this game, there's enough blame to go around and we start with ourselves as coaches, trying to figure out a way to do a better job for them and players doing a better job of doing their jobs better and at the same time, getting some young guys involved and seeing if they can do it better. We're a football team that's played a lot of players. We don't have those seven or eight guys that are inactive every week. Our guys have played and are getting some opportunities to play. About the only guy that hasn't played on the defensive side of the ball with some amount of time at all is really (CB Antwaun) Molden. I think we've got to start to give him a look."
(on the secret to learning to put games away) "You have to learn how to do that. First off, you've got to be on a team that gets in those positions to try to figure it out. This is a very young team that, over the course of its young existence, I would say, hasn't been in a lot of big-time games and those situations with that type of pressure and those environments, and we're trying to learn to do that. I think we've gotten ourselves in some of those football games here as of late in the last couple of years. We have not handled some of those pressure situations the way you need to handle them to become a week-in, week-out effective football team, which is where we're trying to get to. But if you keep getting in those situations, eventually you're going to learn how to do it and give yourself a chance. So, heck, I hope we're in them every week. Obviously, we haven't handled some of them very well. We went down there yesterday and played a good football team that was very hot and played about as clean as we could play and we're right there and had a chance to win, and they put together a big drive at the end of the game that made it difficult on us. So, hopefully, we get ourselves in that position many, many times."
(on if he feels like the team is better or in a better position than they were before because of the play against Indianapolis) "I was just sitting there thinking about it before I walked over here—if you look at us against that football team this year, defensively, I would say that we played six very good quarters against them. We've played eight quarters against that team. So, I would say for the first game, we played them excellent. We played them excellent for a half yesterday. Offensively, you could say we've played seven-and-a-half, maybe even seven-and-a-half-plus quarters of good football against the Colts this year. The last couple of minutes yesterday, we make a mistake and, of course, we all know about the about the four minutes the first time. Are we gaining ground? I don't know. We've played them tough, but still they're the ones that have got their victories. You've got to give them credit. So, bottom line in this league, it's about wining. So, we still have not gotten that done this year, and we've got to figure out a way to get that done. So it just tells you what it takes. I could sit here and tell you about seven-and-a-half good quarters, but it doesn't matter. You've got to play all eight of them and figure out a way to win. If you play a bad quarter or two, you've got to make a couple of plays that make up for those things. I think that's our biggest issue right now. When we do make mistakes, whether it's defensively or offensively, having the plays to offset the mistakes are probably the biggest issue."
(on if he knows how to deal with what he's facing when he's never been through this type of rough stretch) "I've experienced some tough times. It hasn't been all roses. I've gone through some tough stretches as a coach, and we're going through a very difficult time right now. We went through a tough time last year and we battled through that. I don't have any doubt that we'll battle through this one. We're trying to build something here and be successful. It wasn't going to be easy. Believe me, I didn't think it was going to be easy. Do I like what we're going through right now? No, I wish it was a lot better and our record was a lot better. But I have confidence in the people that are doing it and have a lot of confidence in the way that the kids are playing and how hard they're playing. We've got to figure out a way to find them some success so they feel a lot better on Monday than they do right now."
(on if thinks he can win other road games if they play like they did against Indianapolis) "Well, I think that's the formula. If somebody would have told me yesterday that we would have the ball for, what, 23-and-a-half minutes and not turn the ball over all day except for the last two minutes and only run 45 offensive plays that we were going to have a chance to win in Indy, I'd probably argue with you a little bit. But we got that done yesterday and we still had a shot there at the end of the football game. So, very effective running the ball. I thought we were very patient with what we were doing, even when we got down by 10 points, but we just weren't able to finish."
(on if he emphasized the run just because they were playing against Indy) "No. I think, first off, it's part of the formula to winning against that football team. There's no doubt about that. And I've said this before, I think we've gotten out of running the ball some because we got behind in some football games and we've played some teams that are very good against the run, when I go back and think about Minnesota and Baltimore. The Giants did a good job yesterday (against Baltimore), but that's not important. But we've gotten ourselves behind and had to throw the ball more than we'd like to. Yesterday, we stuck to our game plan and, like I said, if you get in that dome and all of a sudden, whether you're down by 10 or whether you're down by seven and you start throwing every down – and we threw it 20 times; we caught 20 passes; we end up throwing it 18 times and still had a couple of tough plays, a couple of sacks and a ball knocked out on the quarterback – but bad things are going to happen to you against that football team. So that was the formula for yesterday. Obviously, it wasn't enough, but would I like to see our football team run the ball as much as we did yesterday? Yes, I would."
(on CB Dunta Robinson saying there were a lot of blown assignments on defense) "Well, I don't think that's right. I would disagree with him there. I think there are some technique issues. There's a difference in not knowing what you're doing and knowing what you're doing and not performing the technique. Whether it's a coverage technique or a stunt technique, we did have some technique issues in the game that we did right during the week, did not do right during the game. We'll sit down and address those and talk about those as a group. You're going to have mistakes in that game. Whether it's offensively or defensively, I'd like to sit here and tell you I've been around perfect football a long time. You're always striving for perfection. I don't know if you ever find it, but it sure is fun trying to find it. You're going to make mistakes in the game as players. But the key is, do you make a few plays that make up for them? Do you have five or six bad plays on defense or do you knock a ball out in the pocket or get an interception or get a fumble? That makes up for a lot of things. We had mistakes on offense yesterday. We had a kid (RB Steve Slaton) take one 71 yards. That makes up for mistakes. So what you hope as a football team is that you're making plays to offset mistakes, and right now, we're having a hard time doing that."
(on an injury update on QB Matt Schaub) "Yeah, I've been told today that they expect him to throw this week, so that's very positive. Doesn't mean he's going to be out there moving around and stuff. I think they'll bring him out there at some point this week and let him throw the ball around, set his feet. But I guess I'm beginning to think and feel more confident that he will play this year, but we'll see."
(on him being confident about QB Matt Schaub playing again this year) "I think we were concerned a little bit about a week after the injury. He's made a lot of progress this past week. You're talking about six weeks right now, so I'm sure hoping that a couple of weeks from now, we're very close to getting him back on the football field."
(on DT Travis Johnson being in a boot) "I think he'll be fine. (Head athletic trainer) Kevin (Bastin) thinks he'll be fine. They put those guys in boots all the time when they have ankle issues or those types of things, so it's just to calm them down and keep them off of it for a couple of days. But we expect him to be back. Our biggest issue is probably (G) Chester (Pitts) right now. He's got a calf problem. He'll probably be day-to-day."
(on RB Ryan Moats' injury) "Moats has an ankle that he didn't think he could go on in the second half, but he did not swell today, so we'll see how he responds."
(on RB Steve Slaton and what he has done this year) "Well, first off, there's talk about a lot of rookies in this league, but this kid has got to be having as fine a season as anybody around. Man, he was thrown into the fire in Week 2. It's not like we brought him along slowly. We threw a lot on his plate, and he has really responded, even responded to the point where he got worn down, which I think we talked about that enough. But he was fresh yesterday. He looked like his old self. There's still a lot of football to play this year, but he's putting up some very good numbers. When you average 11 yards a carry in this league, I don't care where you play or where it happens, that's a special day. It's sad because he had a special day as a player, it's a shame we couldn't hand him a (game) ball and win a football game."
(on if he has given any consideration of changing personnel with defensive coaches or players) "I'm always active with them, but no. We have the right people doing it. We just have to keep battling and do it better."
(on if he has hopes that DT Amobi Okoye will pay this week against Cleveland) "Well, I sure hope so. I was hoping he would be a game-time decision last week. It didn't pan out that way. We tried to work up to that point, but it was obvious he couldn't go. He needs to get back on the field. He needs to get back out there and contribute. It's a big year for him in year two. We're expecting a lot of good things from him and we're running short on time right now, so he needs to get back out there."
(on RB Ahman Green's game yesterday and what it meant) "Well, it means a lot. He did his job yesterday. There's not big numbers for him out there. He did the dirty work in some short-yardage situations and down on the goal line. He's giving us everything he's got and when he's healthy, he's pretty darn good. It sure looks like he's healthy right now."
CB Dunta Robinson
(on watching RB Steve Slaton from his perspective as a defensive back) "You're watching a special talent. For a long time, since (RB) Domanick Davis went down, we haven't had a running back with big-play ability. That's what he brings to the table. He can break any run and he can take it the distance. That's what you saw yesterday."
(on if he marvels at how RB Steve Slaton works in traffic) "Yeah, I do. It's amazing. He's so small they can't really get good shots on him, and he hides behind the linemen. He's a really patient runner. Once he sees his opening, he explodes. He's been a great addition for us this season. We expected him to come in and play, but we didn't expect him to come in and play this well right away."
(on his impressions after watching the film today) "It was sloppy by the defense. We didn't play well, especially in the second half. A lot of mistakes, a lot of blown assignments—so, things that we shouldn't be doing, things that we do over and over in practice and it's still going on. So we've just got to keep working and just keep trying to get better and not come in here and get down because we still have six football games left, and let's just try to make the best of them."
(on why this team has struggled so much on the road in the last year) "Actually, I have no idea. I really can't give you an answer on that because I don't know. You figure a football field is a football field. That's kind of the way I look at it. You should be able to play no matter where you go. You shouldn't have to worry about the fans as long as they're staying in the stands, and we're just not playing well on the road. There are a lot of things that we've got to get corrected and a lot of things that we've got to do better, and playing on the road is one of those things that we have to do better."
(on if it is crazy to think about the fact that this team hasn't won on the road in more than a year) "Yeah, that's crazy. That's really crazy, but the good thing about it is we get another chance Sunday."
(on if he can put his finger on anything that is causing the blown assignments that he talked about earlier) "No, I can't really put my finger on it. That's all I'm going to say about it. I can't really pinpoint why we're having blown assignments, a lot of people just not in the right positions. It's something that we as players and as coaches both, we have to do a better job of making sure we don't have that many blown assignments."
(on if he worries about this defense at this juncture) "My thing with this defense is it's basically the same defense we had a year ago, so why are we 3-7 at this point and why are we not playing good football on the defensive side of the ball? We're still searching for that answer. Like I said, we have six weeks left and we have a chance to redeem ourselves on defense. We've just got to get the job done. It's easier said than done, but that's the bottom line. We've got to play football."
QB Sage Rosenfels
(on RB Steve Slaton's progress this year) "Well, he's growing into things (in terms) of what he does when he has the ball in his hands. I think he's getting better as the season is going on. He's great in open space. That's what he does; he makes safeties miss really well. He's got great balance. Really, he's done a better and better job as the season progresses with his protections. He really struggled with that in training camp and early in the season. The Pittsburgh game was tough for him with that. But as the season has gone on, he's missed fewer and fewer assignments from that aspect, so that's very encouraging."
(on watching RB Steve Slaton in traffic and how he works) "Well, sometimes there's an advantage of being smaller, and (Tampa Bay RB) Warrick Dunn will say that. He's (RB Steve Slaton) 200 pounds, which is pretty small for an NFL running back, but he does a great job of staying low. He's got great balance and keeping his feet. He does have that little sort of Warrick Dunn-type of running style."
(on RB Ahman Green talking about the 1-2 punch with he and RB Steve Slaton) "Well, yeah, we used them well in this game, I think, in that sense of Ahman had a little bit more power from the goal line and he ran a couple of guys over on one of his touchdown runs. And in the short yardage-type of stuff, Ahman has a little more weight to him and (has) got a little more power and little more feel for those situations to get those first downs and touchdowns. But in open space, there are not many guys that are better in the league than Steve right now."
(on his response after watching the game film today) "You know, we only ran 45 plays. Usually, in a game, you run between 60 and 70. So you just wish there were more opportunities. But we did so many good things offensively. There's a few mistakes here and there, but for the most part you're not going to play much better than averaging eight yards per snap. The offensive line did a good job for the most part of the game, and we ran the ball well, which we wanted to do. The receivers did a great job. You wish, when you play that well offensively, that you come out with a win, but that's not the way it went."
(on how he assesses his play) "Well, you know, I made a couple of mistakes in the game I wish I could have back, no one bigger than the last one, obviously. But all I can do is learn from every experience that I'm in when I'm out there and try to play better this week. We know that Cleveland's a similar team, just like us. They're a team that probably thought they were going to be in the playoffs this year if they played well. They're struggling right now. We're struggling. So it's a team that I think is going to be very hungry for a win. We're obviously very hungry for a win."
(on if he knows why the Texans have struggled so much on the road in the past year) "No, I don't, because we usually do play pretty well at home. I think that's a tribute to our fans. We have great fans here who are very helpful when our defense is on the field. But we have struggled on the road. I can't tell you why, but I think that sometimes you play well and we lose and sometimes we do poorly and lose. But you'd like to play better on the road. Where I've been in the past, usually, I think we've had some success on the road. Other teams I have been on, I think it's really getting guys to believe that we can go out there and win on the road. I think we're going to play good football this week. I think we're going to take the positive from this last game and then play good football this week."
(on how hard it is to make progress in the AFC South when they haven't beaten any divisional opponent on the road since 2006) "We have a tough division, there's no doubt about it. But that's the division we're in, so we have to find a way to get some wins in our division."
(on if the games against Tennessee and Jacksonville at home are key) "Yeah, you know, I think we went 1-5 in our division last year and we don't want to have that same record this year or worse. So yeah, we play those teams well, and now we're playing Indianapolis well. We're playing all three teams in our division very, very well. They know they're in for a dogfight when they play us. Like I said, we've always played Jacksonville really well and we've always had really close games with Tennessee. We just haven't won the last few of them."
(on how much playing in the past couple of weeks will help him in his third consecutive start) "Well, I'm trying to take the aspect of really trying to manage the game. There are times when you can try to make plays and there are times you have to be more conservative and either throw it away or take a sack, which I've done a couple of times, or run out of bounds on some of our keepers. That's really an aspect for me that I'm really trying to learn is to really manage the game and not be too careless with the football. I'm trying to do better and better with that each week."
(on what it means to him that Colts head coach Tony Dungy said after the game that the Texans' offense is very hard to cover) "Well, I was just trying to lead the guys, and those guys did a great job. There's nothing better than handing the ball off to a running back and him getting 70 yards. It's the best feeling for a quarterback. So we've done well offensively this year with moving the football and, for the most part, a lot of times scoring points. We all know that hasn't been the issue. The issue has been untimely turnovers and some other things. We know what we can do when we're clicking. We've clicked pretty well against Indianapolis both times this year."
(on how big it is to have that trust with a running back) "Yeah, our other positions have done a great job – tight ends, receivers and running backs, especially – of not turning the ball over. We harped on it all offseason, all training camp, and all during the season, they've done a phenomenal job."
(on what is happening to WR Andre Johnson where he isn't getting open as much since his four-game stretch in October) "He had the four where he was phenomenal, but teams are doubling him a lot and their playing the corners sometimes inside and they're always rolling the coverage to him right now. That's why in the Minnesota game (TE) Owen Daniels had 11 catches and I think (WR) Kevin Walter had more catches this week. So that's where the guys are starting to get the ball a little more, and there are some things you can do to stop them from doing that, but if a team really wants to take away one player in this league, coaches are pretty smart to do that. That's why, on offense, we have to do other things, and that's probably what helps us run the ball so well this week."
(on if teams are saying that they are not going to let WR Andre Johnson beat them) "If teams decide to do that to a wide receiver, just take (WR) Randy Moss completely out of the game, we've seen it with the Patriots. Randy Moss would have two or three catches, but (WR) Wes Welker would have 11 or 12. So if teams really decide to take one player out of the game, it's really hard to stop them from doing that. But the key is to counteract that with getting the other guys some catches. Fortunately, we have other guys on this team that can make up for that slack, but we're still going to try to get Andre the ball as much as we can."