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Conference Call: Texans Coach Gary Kubiak

Posted Sep 26, 2012


(on the status of quarterback Matt Schaub)

He’s fine. He lost a little bit of his ear. No one wants to do that. But he’s fine. He went through his normal Monday with the team when we work out and correct our mistakes. They went back to work here this morning, and he’s expected to take his normal allotment of reps. He’s OK.

(on how Matt Schaub lost part of his ear)

I don’t know. I have no idea. There was a lot of blood out there, and it was coming from some piece of his ear that had gotten cut pretty bad. So I guess it had happened from the helmet, when the helmet came off. He’s OK.

(on if Matt Schaub proved anything about his toughness coming back a play later)

I don’t think he has anything to prove. He’s been a heck of a player in this league, and a tough player throughout his career. Biggest thing is we’re trying to keep him on the field for 16 games. We ran a tough game with Denver there. We knew it’d be very difficult. He hung in there all day, took some shots and made a lot of big plays for our football team. He found a way to lead them to a win. That’s part of playing that position in this league, you have to be at your best in some tough environments. He had a good outing last week.

(on his thoughts about Joe Mays’ suspension and fine for that hit)

I don’t get into that. That’s the league’s responsibility. I think it’s obviously our responsibility as an organization, me as a coach, Rick Smith, Mr. (Robert) McNair, to protect our players and stand up for our players. Once the flags are thrown and those types of things are turned into the league, then they’ve got a job to do. I’ve got to let them do their job, and obviously, I’ve got to worry about the football part.

(on how he’s handling the team’s expectations for this season)

I wouldn’t say we’ve done anything different. I think if anything, we felt like we had even more challenges this year. We lost some quality football players off this team—not only good players, but good people and leaders. We knew we had some tough guys to replace going into training camp and some issues at some spots. How we deal with those throughout the course of this year is going to have a lot to do with whether or not we’re successful or not. Getting the attention of everybody, that was no problem. I think we understand where we are, and we also understand what the heck we’ve been through to fight to get real competitive in this league as an organization and a team. We just have to keep working. Our success comes from our hard work, and our guys know that. So we have to stay focused on what we’re doing.

(on the play of linebacker Connor Barwin)

I think he’s playing every bit as well as he did last year. It’s funny, those sacks, interceptions, those types of things, they tend to come in bunches. Right now, it just seems like the quarterback is going down or moving, he’s always moving away from Connor (Barwin), but Connor’s effort has been excellent. J.J. (Watt) has been very productive, Antonio (Smith) is playing good, Brooks (Reed). Those things will work themselves out. But I think Connor is playing as well, if not better than he played last year. He will continue to work hard, and those things will come his way.

(on if Connor Barwin is drawing a lot more attention)

I don’t know about that. Because I think we’re pretty balanced up front. You never know who’s maybe going to get the chip or the attention from week to week. He and Brooks (Reed) both have seen chips from tight ends and those types of things. That’s nothing abnormal in this league. Some they just have to play through, but it helps other players make plays. I think some of J.J (Watt’s) success, he’d be the first one to tell you, comes from the job that Connor (Barwin) and Brooks are doing outside to keep quarterbacks in the pocket and keep them squeezed in there.

(on if it’s a rarity for J.J. Watt to get the production he’s gotten in the first three games in a 3-4 defense)

You would say statistically it is. We do so many things with him. He’s such a smart player, and we’re able to move him around. In nickel, we play him a little bit of everywhere. We have played some teams that have had us in a lot of nickel-type stuff. Miami did a bunch of hurry-up with three wides, and then obviously, Denver with Peyton (Manning), a bunch of three wide receiver sets and spreading the field. I think he’s benefitted from that a great deal.

(on if it’s going to be a challenge to get to Jake Locker with the Titans offensive line only giving up two sacks through three games)

First of all, I think Bruce (Matthews) does a hell of a job. Bruce knows how to protect the quarterback. Then they’ve got the presence of some dang good tight ends, which really help protect your quarterback in the pass game. I think you add the fact that Jake (Locker) moves so well. Sacks, you look at numbers, how many do you have? Boy, you’re doing this well or that well. A lot of sacks are tied to quarterbacks finding a way to get rid of the ball and not go down. We’ve got the same issues here with Matt (Schaub). You have to find a way sometimes to throw the ball away.  I think their young quarterback has done a hell of a job of that.

(on his thoughts about Bruce Matthews as an offensive line coach)

Bruce (Matthews) is a tremendous football coach. He knows exactly what he’s doing, great teacher. He’s a great person on top of all that. This league is so tough. I think you guys may have played, in my opinion, the toughest early schedule in football when you talk about New England, going to San Diego and then Detroit. That’s just part of it, and you have to stay with the grind. They’ve got a great back, and he’s been one of the best in the business for a long time. It’s just a matter of time before they pop out and have their days over the course of the season. That’s part of this league and part of football. You just have to stay after it, and I know they will. It’s always a challenge for us. Chris (Johnson) has made so many big plays and hurt us so bad throughout our time here in Houston. I promise you, we have tremendous respect for his ability to make the big play.

(on the Texans’ right tackle situation)

We’re playing a young guy over there. (Derek) Newton has three starts under his belt. We knew as an organization we were rebuilding the right side of our offensive line in a lot of ways going into the season. He’s got three starts under his belt, some good, some not so good. We knew that was going to be part of it, but we like his upside, we like his effort. We’ll continue to bring him along. We’re trying to help him a bit by playing Ryan Harris a little bit, a veteran that we picked up that helps keep Newton fresh. We’re doing the same thing at guard. We’re kind of playing seven football players up front. Bottom line, the key is trying to be good up front. We are rotating a couple of guys.

(on striking a balance between cohesion and rotating guys on the offensive line)

That is tough. Last year, we had a group, we had five guys that played every snap. We knew what we were facing when we got started this year. We knew our challenges there. The key is we’re going to be good up front. I expect us to be good up front. The best thing for us right now is we’ve got a young guard that has earned reps, he’s played very well—(Ben) Jones from Georgia that we’ve got. We’ve got a young tackle that we’ve got to make sure as coaches we bring along the right way. We did the same thing with Duane Brown when he was a young player. We rotated him some. I think there is a process here to becoming a seasoned pro and playing a lot of snaps. We’re trying to do it the right way.

(on what Ben Jones has done to make the transition from center to guard)

First off, he’s very smart. I think he had 44 straight starts at Georgia in the SEC. He was the guy inside. You always need a swing player on game day if you’re going to suit seven guys. He was a guy that could handle a lot of football, a lot of information, so he sort of worked his way into the role right away. Through getting some opportunities to play, especially in Jacksonville, he’s earned more and more reps and hopefully he keeps coming. He gives us the ability to suit seven offensive linemen on game day.

(on who he thinks can step up in the Titans secondary and fill Cortland Finnegan’s shoes)

First off, I think they’re very aggressive, making the big play last week, pulling the ball out and taking it back. Defensively, you guys do a lot of things. Jerry (Gray) does a hell of a job. You never know how you’re going to get played. A real good Tampa 2 team and then come get you aggressively too. It’s a big challenge for us as an offense having to prepare for a lot of things and not knowing how we’re going to get played that particular day when we play them.

(on how different the Titans defense looks without Cortland Finnegan)

I don’t know. I think scheme-wise, we’re seeing the same stuff as far as what they’re teaching and how they do it and their philosophy. It’s just obviously doing it with a different corner out there. We see the same group, see them getting after the quarterback extremely well, really causing a lot of havoc there in the pocket. It’s always a good battle when we get together. It’s always a dang good physical contest when we play.

(on how he’s handled things with his players and the replacement officials)

We’ve taken the same approach. You can’t worry about what you can’t control. As I’ve said for the last month, I think those guys are doing the best they can and working their tail off. We have to stay concerned with our football and how we get ready to play every week and how we play, and not worry about those types of things.

(on who won’t be practicing on Wednesday)

Yeah, I’ve got a couple of guys that will be limited. Andre (Johnson) will be limited, Arian (Foster) will be limited, Johnathan Joseph will be limited. We’ve got about 250 snaps under our belt right now, so we have to get these guys fresh and get them to Sunday. We’ve got some guys limited, but as far as absolutely not practicing, Lestar Jean would be the only one I’d think before we go on the field here.

(on if Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Johnathan Joseph are a concern for Sunday’s game)

No, I just think we get to that time where we’re four weeks into this. On Wednesdays we give those guys a little bit of a break and practice some younger players and then get back to the workload on Thursday. I don’t foresee it being any different.

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