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Houston Texans: Gary Kubiak Conference Call Transcript
GK: We've been hit at a couple positions physically. First off, I'll start with Johnathan, he has benefitted from the fact that we have an extra day here and not playing last week. He did work out on Monday and he will be involved in practice today probably on a limited basis. We're headed in the right direction, but he's definitely better. Losing Brice McCain and having Alan Ball with a sore foot, we've made a move and signed Stanford Routt, who has had some experience in this league. Trying to work through those things is part of this business. As far as what we're facing, obviously Wes is a tremendous player. I have a lot of respect for him, how he does his job, how he plays the game. We're going against a tremendous passing game. We have big time challenges but we have to have some young guys step to the plate. This time of year is usually, that's extremely important because everybody has some injuries and some people beat up, and just have to stay the course.
Q: What will you do to simulate the way the Patriots play offense and the fast tempo to prepare for the game?
GK: That's something we do all the time, regardless of who we're playing. We pick up the tempo of our practice both offensively and defensively and try to work as if we're working on a much shorter clock all the time. I think it's good for our condition, it's good for preparation, especially when you're playing a team like the Patriots. It is something that's always part of our practice. They obviously play at a tremendous pace and you better be ready to get your calls in and get ready to go. Like I said, it will be a point of emphasis this week.
Q: What are your thoughts on the running back position in regards to value? You have some undrafted guys and a seventh-round pick. It seems like the league is trending toward not taking those guys in the first round.
GK: Obviously I was raised up under Mike [Shanahan] there in Denver and we were very fortunate to get Terrell [Davis] in the sixth round; ends up being a great player for us. We did step up and I think we drafted Clinton Portis high in the second round a couple years down the road. I don't know that on draft day you ever have a specific way that you're going to build. But I do think the college game is a little different nowadays – a lot of spread, a lot of throwing. I think there are some dang good backs out there that are very, very talented [that] may fit a little better sometimes coming to our league. You have to go find them. We've been fortunate with Arian [Foster] and we did draft Ben [Tate] kind of high but I just think historically here, especially over the last maybe 10 years, there have been some hidden gems in the draft at the running back position. I don't know that I'm right saying that it's because of the way some of the college game is being played, but it just seems like that's happening nowadays.
Q: Your team relies on the running game and having a balance. Are the benefits to balance just for the sake of doing it or is it more about being productive at both and that is what makes it work?
GK: I think it's important that your team knows it can win a lot of ways. I think if you're locked into, ‘This is how win, this is our only strength,' I think those things catch up with you. We obviously would like to be a balanced football team. Everything we do starts with us running the ball. But we've been caught in some shootouts where we've had to go out there and throw it 55, 60 times too so I don't think you ever know what type of game you're going to get in but I think it's important that your team is confident they can win all kinds of ways.
Q: How much has the New England defense changed over the last few weeks with the addition of Aqib Talib?
GK: First off, the biggest thing that jumps at you is how productive they are getting turnovers. They make big plays defensively. I know if you go in there and turn the ball over, boy you're going to have a very, very difficult chance of winning the football game. So, that's a big point of emphasis. Bill [Belichick] does such a great job. He's multiple defensively in what he does. Through my years and games we've played with him, whether it's a 3-4, 4-3, pressure, not pressure – I think you have to stay concerned with yourself and how you do things because you're going to have adjust throughout the course of the game. They do a great job with their personnel; they're always moving people around. Like I said, our focus is we're going to have to protect the dang ball. It seems like everybody who goes in there has been turning it over and we're going to have to find a way not to do that.
Q: What do you see from Vince Wilfork on tape and what has allowed him to be consistently productive in this league?
GK: The thing is, you've been seeing it for years. He's very consistent in his play. Bill [Belichick] plays him all over the place so it's not like you're going to know where he's going to be. He's a little bit of everywhere, whether it's the nose, the three or whatever he's playing. He's a dominant force in there and has been his whole career. I'll tell you the thing as a coach just watching film that I really love and respect about his game, he loves to play. He brings a lot of energy to his team. You can tell he's a leader; when they need big plays he's the one leading the way. I just have the utmost respect for him and it's a big, big challenge for us upfront.
Q: You are surrounded by a lot of athletic defensive linemen on your team. Is Vince Wilfork deceptively athletic for such a big man?
GK: I think he's extremely athletic for such a big man. You watch some of the things he does – heck, I just left a special teams meeting and watched him rush a punter. There's no telling how he's going to be involved in the game but he's a huge factor week in and week out. Like I said, he plays all over the place so all of our guys will probably go against him upfront somehow, someway because of the many places that he plays. He's going to make plays and hopefully at the end of the day, they're not big, big plays and like I said, he's found a way to cause some big turnovers too along the way. He's a huge factor every week for them. He's obviously a leader for them and what they do.
Q: Given the Patriots' run of success and being the defending AFC champions, are you looking at this as a measuring stick game for your team?
GK: I really don't. First off, every game is big here coming down the stretch. We're in position, just like the Patriots are, to kind of control our own destiny moving forward. [The Patriots] have locked up a division and we're in a battle here with the Colts. We're going to play in a lot of big games and coming into New England, obviously that's a big, big game. We're really trying just to stay focused on our football, trying to improve. The key once you get there is how you're playing. It doesn't matter who you play or where you play, you have to be playing good football when you get to the playoffs. I've learned that through my years. We're really just trying to stay focused on us, trying to get some guys back healthy. We know we'll have to play extremely well this weekend. We see every week as a big game and obviously in December, they're all huge.
Q: Did you have the sense when you drafted J.J. Watt that you were getting the type of player you got?
GK: First off, we knew we were getting a high effort player. I think everybody knows his story, how he came up through college, so you knew you were getting a kid that was very driven, very motivated to be successful. He was a hell of a player in college. He seemed to make big plays, blocked kicks, knocked down [passes] – he did these same things he's doing here, he did them in college when you looked at it. He's been that and everything plus. I think this thing kind of started for him at the end of last year in the playoffs, he played exceptional. That confidence has really carried over into this season. He's a consistent guy, he's a real pro. I think that's what all of us are looking for as coaches. He's not only very talented, but he brings a passion, he brings a consistency week in, week out, to how he prepares and how he goes about his job. We're very fortunate; we got a fine young man who is turning into a great, great player, hopefully for a long time.
Q: Can you elaborate your thoughts on [General Manager] Rick Smith? You have had your injuries but it seems like the depth on the roster has softened the blow and it speaks to some good personnel work.
GK: No doubt. He's done a hell of a job. I think there are lot of things that help you work through the trials and tribulations in this league. We lost eight key football players last year that were big-time contributors to our team so we knew from the start, replenishing our depth and the coaches being able to catch up young players in our system would have a lot to do with our success this year. I think it's something you're going to go through these days with the cap. You're not going to be able to hang onto everybody and you're going to have to do a good job of teaching in a very short period of time. Also, I think that teams learn how to gain confidence that, ‘Hey, we can handle situations. We're down two players this week. These two guys are going to step in and they're going to play their [butt] off, everybody else is going to pick up the slack, we're going to work through this.' I think that's something you learn to do as an organization. Instead of finding reasons why you're not successful, you keep plugging and find reasons why you're going to continue to be successful. I think it's a frame of mind and it's something you have to work really hard at to develop within your organization.
Q: What has Johnathan Joseph brought to the team this year?
GK: I don't know that I could sit here and tell you enough about the acquisitions of Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning to our team last year was huge. We got two great players but two leaders. [Manning] had won in Chicago, been very successful in Chicago; he brought that to our locker room. [Joseph] had been very successful in Cincinnati, a Pro Bowl player, a Pro Bowl worker; he brought that to our locker room. This is a very young team from the standpoint of some of the experience that some of our guys have from a playoff standpoint and those type of things so they were huge for us.
Q: Did you get a sense that other teams were onto J.J. Watt at draft time, especially the Patriots?
GK: I would be wrong to sit here and tell you about what was going on then. I can't remember. I just know we thought a lot of him and obviously there were some damn good defensive players in that draft, with Aldon Smith and some of these guys, [Von] Miller, that have come out of that draft. But to remember whose radar he was on or what we were thinking, I'm sorry but I have nothing to add on that.