HEAD COACH GARY KUBIAK
(on if it is a fair assessment that the last game and the upcoming game versus the Titans are the biggest in franchise history)
I don't know about that. I think it's positive that we're here in the back half of the season and talking about playing in some big games. That obviously hasn't been the case around here in the early stages of this franchise. We've got a long, long way to go and we've got seven football games left. So much changes in this league week-to-week. We know each one is a very pivotal game for our football team. That's what you what to be in. Heck, that's why you're part of this business.
(on trying to stay at the head of the AFC South division race)
I don't get too caught up in that stuff. We've got to worry about how we play and what product we put on the field this week, regardless of who we're playing, when we're playing, Sunday, Monday, hell it doesn't matter. We've got to stay focused on our football. We've played better the last month. We came back against Indianapolis and got sloppy with the football, turned it over, played very poorly early in the football game. We're coming off a bye, our focus right now is to really just try to get our football cleaned up. Because if we don't play as good as we can play, it may be difficult for us to find a way to beat you all's team. They're a hell of a football team. So, we're trying to stay focused on ourselves.
(on Texans LB Brian Cushing)
Obviously, this kid's way ahead mentally. He played in big games. He's a very smart football player coming from USC, there's not a stadium or a big game or anything the kid hasn't seen. That was a big positive for us and obviously we needed an impact player right away. We didn't waste any time. We took him and put him in there from the get go. It was very difficult, he missed almost the entire training camp to be honest with you. That made it very, very difficult going into the season, but we knew for us to get where we wanted to go, we needed to go with him from day one. We knew he'd go through some growing pains, but he's responding and he's gotten better every week. He's made our football team better. He's got a bright future ahead of him.
(on Dallas Clark having success against Brian Cushing)
Well, Dallas Clark has had a lot of success against a lot of people. When you play Indianapolis, they're going to move the football. They're very talented across the board and tremendous at quarterback. So, obviously that was Brian's first outing against that team and that player, but that's part of this league. You're going to face good players and sometimes they're going to make some plays on you. Key is that you keep battling and hopefully before the day's over you make a couple more than they did. That was a nice awakening for him to go against that group. That was his first time out against them.
(on the run defense improving for the Texans)
Well, hell guys, it had to get better. It was as bad as it could possibly be after three weeks this year. It had no way to go but up. How did it improve? I think we're tackling better. Bernard Pollard coming to our football team has been a nice acquisition. I just think we've settled down on the back end and we've tackled better back there, not giving up the big plays that we gave up early in the season. But against Chris (Johnson), hell, this kid's amazing. What type of year he's having and the pace he's on, you don't see that very often in this league. He's tremendous and it's, of course, the biggest challenge we've had all year long. Obviously what he did to us there and here we get it again. We understand how big the challenge is.
(on how to prepare for Chris Johnson)
I think he's a unique guy. He runs outside. He's very physical. That run he had on the goal line last week where he got stuck by two guys and bounced off and walked in the end zone. I mean, he is just so impressive. He does it all. I think for us really, the key is how can we contain him and hopefully we don't give up the big play, make sure we tackle well, be gap sound in what we're doing. He's going to make plays. He's a great player. In this league you play great people and understand that they're going to make plays, but hopefully you can find a way to contain them over a period of three and a half hours. Try to keep them in check.
(on Steve Slaton maybe having a sophomore slump)
I think that's part of the NFL. Like you said, the job that Chris (Johnson) is doing, he's taken another step forward. Of course, Steve had a lot of success as a rookie last year, has struggled this year, not as much success. He's put the ball on the ground some. I think players go through that in this league. This is the toughest league there is and the best players in the world. There's nothing easy and whether you play 10 or 12 years and you're a good player, has a lot to do with how you work through tough times. One thing about Steve, he has struggled, but it has not changed his work habits or who he is. He's worked extremely hard. He studies extremely hard. For us to play good football we're going to need Steve to step up and play well. So, we're trying to help him all we can. He's an important piece to our puzzle.
(on if the plan at running back is game-to-game)
We've been playing them all. Obviously, Ryan (Moats) played well for us a couple weeks ago. When Chris's (Brown) legs are fresh, he's done some good things for us and he's as fresh as he's been now. Get him a good break over the course of the last two weeks. We're going to play them all. There's nothing set in stone. Obviously, if one of them is playing better than the other, he's probably going to stay on the field.
(on stripping the ball)
We're much better on the defensive side of the ball. I think we're plus-one as a football team. Defensively we've done our part, offensively we haven't. We've gotten sloppy with the ball, especially the last three weeks. I think we were doing pretty well up until that point and started turning it over. When we're not doing things well it usually starts with that. That's a big challenge for us to try to find a way to protect it and you don't have to look any further than you guys. Over the course of the last three weeks, I think you all have had one turnover and you win three games in a row. Those things usually go hand-in-hand in this business.
(on taking away the big plays)
I think anybody, regardless of if it's us or any team in this league, if you're poor in a category there's usually a reason. Obviously, if you give up big plays in the run game you're going to suffer. Not only from a point standpoint, but people staying on the field on you and making big plays. Like I said, I think we've tackled better in the last month and hopefully we can continue to do that. The threat of the big play of you guys is very much of a concern for us.
(on Rod Hood)
I think they've done a great job. Obviously, lost some players back there, had some guys nicked up and have weathered the storm. Jeff and them have always done a great job with the secondary and the defense, very aggressive and they're getting a lot of turnovers here, especially over the course of the last three weeks. So, always been impressed with their defense and the style they play. Regardless of who's on that field for Jeff's defense, they're going to be a very physical group and this one's no different.
(on the impact of injuries on a football team)
I think they play a huge part. A lot of times as I go back to my years in this league, you look at some of the years you've had and obviously you have good teams, but you have a lot of luck along the way too. The way guys have stayed healthy and the way things work out for you for a particular season and all of the sudden you can turnaround the next year and have to battle adversity week in and week out. In a lot of ways that's part of this league. As a coach you've got to understand that you're going to lose players, you're going to have problems. How your teams learn to fight through those things and don't look for excuses just keep going and plug somebody else in, usually ends up being the makeup of a good organization in the long haul.
(on the option offense)
Obviously that presents some new problems for us. They've been very effective doing it. You're talking about two big time runners right there and being able to hurt you in a lot of ways. You don't see a lot of it in the National Football League, but Dinger's (Mike Heimerdinger) always going to find a way to move the ball. Obviously, he's done a great job of getting Vince (Young) involved in the option. It's just another problem for us to worry about.
(on Vince Young's run threat)
Vince's run threat adds a new dimension to their football team. Him getting out of the pocket, running an option, running a boot, anything he does, his ability to make big plays running the football adds a big time dimension that you have to worry about defensively. They've been exceptional at what they've been doing and like you said, and protecting the ball extremely well along the way.
(on if the option only works with a fast running back like Chris Johnson who can get around the corner)
I don't know. I'm not the expert on the option, I don't know.