HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
Every year is always different in how it’s going to play out. Hopefully, he’ll finish up with another good game Sunday, and we’ll go from there. I think there were certain games he didn’t get the opportunities he’d like or that we would have liked the way some of these games fell during the year. We played against some good defense that took the run away from us in certain games and some games we got to do better than we did, but overall, he’s there every Sunday, at practice every day. It’s important to him, and I know he’d like to finish with a big, strong day on Sunday.
(on whether it’s important to see Chris Johnson get to 1,000 yards)
We want to win number one. I would think with 50 yards away if that’s where he’s at that there would be a great opportunity for him to do that this weekend. I think you want to win number one, and you like to have guys accomplish things that do mean something. I think it does. 1,000 yards people say, ‘Well, it’s not what it used to be.’ You know what, when it’s year after year and you show up, that means you’re showing durability, coming to the game, come in and take care of yourself. Every year is not going to be what you want it to be. There’s always a lot of reasons why things don’t work out the way you hoped. He’s a kid that plays every Sunday, takes the hits, keeps coming, doesn’t miss anything. I think it’s a great accomplishment for him to continue. It would be nice to say he got over 1,000 yards again.
He’s been struggling all year with that. Unfortunately for him, it’s been one of those years. He’s never really been hurt before. Since camp started, he’s been dealing with something or another, the hamstring and then the ankle. Unfortunately, those ankles hang around. When you’re his size, they don’t heal as quickly as you’d like or you think you’re getting better and someone kicks it. I’d say he’s pretty limited since he’s been playing. I think he’s playing through it. We’re trying to limit him in practice, but it’s hard to do that because he’s young and you want him getting reps. He’s handled it well, and I thought he’s playing better, doing things better. You can tell the difference in the change of direction, the push at times. He has to reload with the ankle. It’s definitely hurt him, but he’s just going to get better and better as he plays more next year and the year after.
(on Andre Johnson’s numbers this season and the Texans still playing hard)
He’s a great player. Guys just churn out big numbers. We know firsthand, we’ve seen a lot of those catches up close and personal. He’s played very well against us over the years. I’d like to see us shut him out this Sunday, but when you think of the team, people think, ‘Wow, they only have three wins.’ People play hard. People want to say that guys don’t play hard because their record is 3-13 or whatever they are, but every Sunday…tell me J.J. Watt’s not playing hard. Tell that to our offensive line watching them play. These guys are playing hard on Sundays. Maybe the team in general is not finding ways to win games, but they play hard.
(on guys making the Pro Bowl this season)
Well, I hope we get them. We have guys that have played well. You just never know. We’ll see. Obviously, (Jurrell) Casey posted numbers. There are guys that have done things, done well, and you just don’t know it, especially now with the format kind of changing this year. It’s a little different the way they’re voting. Hopefully we’ll have a few guys that get consideration. We should definitely have some. I think that’s happened year after year since I’ve been here. We’ve had guys get overlooked that haven’t made it in years that we’ve won and years when we haven’t won. Hopefully some guys get recognized for what they did.
He’s excited about it. We watched the film from that game the other day, and he’s so much better at a lot of things than he was back in week two. That’s the fun thing about him. He’s excited about challenges, he knows he’s a great player. J.J. Watt, you’re going to see him at his best. It doesn’t matter what the record is. He’s going to be playing like he’s going to the Super Bowl. That’s what Chance (Warmack) will get him, himself, (Byron) Stingily, (Michael) Roos. He (Watt) plays both sides, so I think it’s good for those guys to play against him again. He (Chance) has improved a lot. I think he sees it. I think when he sees that game, he sees how many things he’s doing better. He understands the game better. It doesn’t mean he’s going to play great against him, but we would think he has a better feel for what it takes to play well against him.
I think it helps. Byron’s (Stingily) another one; I think it’s good for him going against a better player this week, different types of players I should say, and see how those guys (Stingily and Chance Warmack) play together. Their communication has been good. They’ve practiced together quite a bit because of the injuries we’ve had at tackle. I’d be interested to see those two guys play and matchup, how much better we hopefully play than we played the first time.
(on differences between Case Keenum and Matt Schaub)
There’s going to be more of that (running around). It’s hard to tell. I think it’s more that they’re different a little bit just because of the coaching change. They’re running some things a little differently. I think they now have a guy that’s going to run more, more apt to take off and run more than (Matt) Schaub. Schaub’s played well against us for the most part. He’s managed games well. The interception last time we played them gave us a chance to win it, but we didn’t. We just got to play a good football game no matter how it all sorts out. This is one of those games where they’re going to have a lot of different guys playing different spots like last week and this time of year. We just got to concentrate on us doing our jobs, and it’ll work out.
(on the team feeling sentimental knowing this is their last time playing as a group)
I think they have that when the game’s over, when we have that last meeting on Monday when it kind of hits home that it’s been a long year and expectations were what they were and didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. I think they’ll wait until the game is over for all of that. I think they just want to win this football game and do the best we can with what we have left. Monday it’s more of that feeling that it’s hard to believe we’re all separating and going our separate ways for a while as players, as coaches. I think those things end up at the end. Unfortunately, a lot of teams have that same feeling. Twenty teams do I guess coming Monday. That’s the hard part of the game. You’re done and other teams are going forward. You wish you were one of those teams going forward, but we got to just hope that next year we’re one of those teams.
(on addressing disappointed fans)
I think I said I wouldn’t let them down. I said we’d do everything we can to win every Sunday. I feel every Sunday we have tried to do that. It hasn’t always been the way we hoped it would be. I think they’ve heard me say over and over that we’re not happy with how things are right now. We’re disappointed in the fact that the outcome of some of these games haven’t been better. I think we’ve been in all these games. I think we’ve been competitive. I think we’re better than we were last year at this time, but the bottom line is playoffs, championships, those things. We didn’t get that done, so it is disappointing.
(on whether he will be emotional Sunday during the game)
Again, like the players, I don’t think the coaches or myself will be thinking along those lines on Sunday. We’re in preparation mode to win this football game. I think those are things that come after we’re done with the season, when you look back and figure out how do we go forward. You get at least a little time to digest Sunday, winning, not let there be any distractions for coaches or players as Sunday. We want to win, we want to play well. It still means a lot to us to do that. You’ll see that on Sunday I think, and then we’ll figure out all the rest. The rest will happen once we get through Sunday night.
(on whether he has a meeting scheduled with Tommy Smith)
Not yet. We haven’t finalized anything yet. It’s more about let’s get to Sunday then I’m sure I’ll hear all that after.
(on whether Tommy Smith will stay in town after the game on Sunday)
I don’t know. I don’t have any information on that yet.
I think he’s feeling better. If he practices tomorrow, which we assume he will, if he doesn’t have any setbacks, I think he wants to finish. He’s got a great season going. I know it’s important for him to finish this season, get the last start here. I know he’s motivated to do that, so hopefully he will. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow, but he’s feeling better, which is a good sign.
(on whether Jurrell Casey is the team’s best Pro Bowl candidate)
Well, he’s posted numbers that make it hard to ignore him. He’s had a great year. There’s a lot of guys, but I don’t want to start grabbing (for names). I think people know who has played well. That’s a tough time, that’s a tough time of year when those things start coming out. He’s played well. I think he’s played well since he’s been here last year. His injuries kind of slowed him, but I think this year he’s battled through. For a defensive tackle to do the things he’s done this year, it’s a great feat for him, a great year for him. Hopefully he can top it off with a big game Sunday.
He should be OK. Hopefully it’s a 24-hour thing. He came in and wasn’t feeling well. I guess he enjoyed Christmas a little too much. I think he had some kind of…he couldn’t practice, so the best thing was to let him rest and not get anyone else sick. He should be OK tomorrow.
(on his favorite Christmas gift)
I received the trophy. I guess I would go with the Electric City trophy for winning the Oakland Raider game. That showed up. I got the bell and walked in and told players, ‘You guys may have gotten a lot of great gifts today and you’re probably bragging on stuff you bought for yourself, but you don’t have one of these.’ They knew something about the Raider game. I kind of explained that, the award. I have it in my office. That was a proud moment. My parents mailed it to me. I didn’t expect that, so that was probably one of my favorite gifts. It’s something they can’t take away from me. I’ll always have it.