Q: What are some of the unique challenges you have preparing for a team you have played so recently?
BB: It comes up quite a bit. We play teams twice in the division twice a year, so it’s not really that big of a deal.
Q: How would you describe Arian Foster’s running style?
BB: Good. He’s fast, he’s got good vision. He breaks tackles, he makes people miss, he outruns them. He’s good in the passing game. He’s pretty much good at everything.
Q: How about his patience?
BB: Good; he finds the holes. They have good backs. [Ben] Tate is a good back. They have good backs.
Q: When you are playing a running back like Arian Foster, is it hard to simulate what he does in practice in terms of the patience and the ability to create?
BB: I think our backs do a good job of that. I feel like we have good backs and they do a good job. Shane [Vereen], Woody [
Q: When you consider the finality of playoff games where one mistake can send you home, is it important to amplify that for the players so they know that things can end quickly if they make a mistake but making sure they’re still aggressive?
BB: That’s exactly where we are. We all understand that – every player, every coach, everybody that participates in the game. We all understand that’s exactly what it is.
Q: Is there a way to emphasize that they still have to go out there and play and not play conservatively?
BB: Of course. You don’t win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it. You have to go out there and attack. You have to go out there and make the plays you need to make to win. It’s a one-game season.
Q: We talked about how Week 14 does not matter but at the same time can you approach the balance between using it as a reference and a tool to coach from but also being able to turn the page because it is really a new season?
BB: I think it’s just another game we look at, like the Indianapolis game, like the Minnesota game, like the other Indianapolis game, like the Cincinnati game. We look at all those games and there are things we can learn from in each of them. We need to be ready for whatever we’re going to get this week. It won’t be the same as any of those games but we can learn from all those.
Q: When you moved to such a tight end heavy offense, was that a function of having drafted to great ones and trying to get them on the field together or what way did that happen?
BB: I think you always try to get the players on the field you feel like are your most productive players or are the players you can put together as a group that will best attack the opponent that you’re playing so it’s a combination of those things.
BB: I think Tom has been one of our most consistent players; he has been through the years in terms of his preparation and his performance. He’s won a lot of regular season games, won a lot of playoff games. I think he’s a pretty consistent player all the way through. What he does on a day-to-day basis, how he performs on the practice field, how he performs in games, whether they’re preseason, regular season, postseason whatever it is, he’s pretty consistent. I think you see that during the week so it shows up on Sunday.
Q: You mentioned after the game last time that one of the keys to slowing down their rush was not just blocking well but getting off man coverage quickly. Is that something you guys are expecting again – a lot of man coverage and are you keying on beating it?
BB: Always. Anytime you can’t get away from man-to-man coverage, that puts a lot of pressure on the pass protection and getting the ball off. Houston is a good man-to-man team and they play man-to-man coverage. If that’s what they play against us, then we’ll have to beat it. If they don’t, then we’ll have to beat zone coverage, meaning we’ll have to have good spacing from our receivers and be able to find open areas and all that. They’re a good man-to-man team. They play quite a bit of it. They won 13 games [including postseason], I’m sure we’ll see plenty of man coverage on Sunday. Of course, catching the ball is also important. We dropped five passes in the first game. It doesn’t matter if you’re open or not, if you don’t catch the ball, you don’t have anything to show for it.
Q: When you have had a degree of success like you did back in December, what is the fine line between trying to repeat what worked well and trying to throw in new wrinkles?
BB: I think it’s about creating a game plan that you feel like can be successful against a team that you’re playing. The way certain plays matched up in the first game, first of all, I don’t even know if we’re going to run the same plays or they’re going to run the same plays so that it could even possibly match up in this game. But even if it did, the chances of it matched up, the number of plays that we run and the number of defenses that they run, for it to be the exact same is infinitesimal. It’s not going to happen. I don’t think that’s really important. It’s about being prepared to deal with whatever it is we have to deal with on Sunday and going out there and executing it well. It’s not trying to replicate a matchup, you can’t do it.
Q: In taking stock of your team’s health, how important was the bye week? Who did that really benefit the most in your estimation?
BB: I don’t know. It’s a hypothetical question, I have no idea. I know that if we had to play last week, we would have gotten ready to play and we would have played last week. We didn’t, so we’re playing this week. We’ll get ready to go and try to play the best we can this week. That’s all we can do. We can’t control the schedule or how anybody is feeling or what days we play or what days we don’t play. When they schedule them, we show up and do the best we can. That’s what we’re going to do this week.
Q: In giving them three days off, was it your intention just to let them get away to quiet their minds and bodies?
BB: Again, we worked on some things last week. I felt like the most productive thing we could do was as a staff to make sure we were ready for the players when they came back in. We give them a scouting report and game plan on the next team we were going to play. We needed some time to do that. We could have just kept working on basically three opponents but we tried to set it up in such a way that when the players came back in, we would be totally prepared for whichever one it was so that’s what we did.
Q: For a few years, the Texans always seemed to be on the cusp of making the postseason. Now having been in the playoffs for back-to-back years, what is your impression of how Coach Kubiak has put them in that position? What does it take to be a consistent playoff team year in and year out?
BB: It definitely takes good talent and they have plenty of that and they’re well coached. We played them down there in ’09. They had a good football team that year, they beat us, they played well. We hadn’t played them since then. We’ve seen them, they’ve looked pretty good. He’s done a good job. Like you said, they’ve been in the playoffs the last two years. They lost their quarterback at the end of the year last year, still won a playoff game; won 12 regular season games this year, won a playoff game already. They’ve done a pretty solid job. It starts with good players, they have plenty of those. They play well, the coaches get them to play well. They’re pretty solid.
Q: What does Garrett Graham do? It looks like he helps in the run game and the pass game?
BB: He’s more of a tight end. He gives them some two tight end formations. With [James] Casey in there, Casey can play tight end and fullback too. They didn’t have him in the first game. I think they used [James] Casey in a role similar to some of things that they would have had Graham doing, he did. When they’ve had all three, of course it gives them the ability to put all three guys on the field at the same time, which they don’t have when they only have two of them. But when there are only two of them out there, I think they try to manage the game with Casey doing what Graham would be doing. But Graham is a good player, he’s a good red area player, he’s a good receiver. Casey is a good player; Owen Daniels is a good player. They have three good tight ends, whichever ones are out there and if all three of them are out there, then they have three good guys out there. If only two of them are out there, then usually that means that they have two good receivers out there with [Kevin] Walter and Andre Johnson. Whichever guys they put out there, it will be a challenge for them to defend, it doesn’t matter who it is.
Q: Your defense this year has forced and recovered a lot of fumbles. How do you see the balance between skill in recovering the ball versus just getting the bounce?
BB: It’s taking advantage of your opportunities. If you have an opportunity to get it, then you need to get it. Like you said, sometimes you just don’t really have an opportunity for it. But the ones that we do, we practice them and hopefully when we get the opportunity, we can capitalize and make those count. It’s no different than defensive backs getting their hands on balls and knocking them down versus intercepting them. It’s the same type of thing. Those are opportunities; you only get so many of them on defense. You need to capitalize on whichever ones you get.
Q: Do you almost have to assume that nothing is going to carry over from the previous game? Have you seen it where stuff that worked before can carry over or do you have to assume it the other way?
BB: I think game plan-wise, you can fundamentally take a similar approach if you think a certain type of play or a certain scheme or a certain style would be successful. It doesn’t mean you can’t continue to do that. Maybe it’s formatted a little differently or there are some modifications to it or whatever it is. As far as specific plays and ‘this game is going to go the way that game…’ I think that’s ridiculous. Just show me one example where that’s happened. I can’t think of one.
Q: Have you ever seen an example of a playoff game where a team that was doing one thing during the regular season switched completely what they were doing for a playoff game? Is that dangerous for any team to do?
BB: I’m not saying this is right or wrong. You asked a historical question so I can give you a historical answer. I can tell you that in 1990, when I was with the Giants, we played Chicago in the first playoff game. We played a 4-3 defense. They had a certain style of play that we felt was more conducive to that. The next week we played San Francisco, we played a 3-4 defense and that was predicated on what we thought would be best to play the 49ers that week. Then the following week we played Buffalo and we played a 2-4 nickel, 3-3 nickel, whatever you want to call it, depending on what part of the game you were in. I’d say that was a different style of defense. Is that trying to be creative? I don’t know. It’s trying to win the game. It’s trying to do what you felt like you had to do to match up against those particular teams – Chicago, San Francisco and Buffalo in that particular year that were very, very different. Playing Chicago wasn’t like playing San Francisco and playing San Francisco wasn’t like playing Buffalo. There were just different matchups, different style offenses, different personnel groups on the field. I think at this time of the season you do what you need to do to win one game. You don’t worry about your system, you don’t worry about playing time or how many guys do this or this guy does that. You worry about what you need to do to win the game – that’s what we’re here for. You put the best you have out there to do the best you can against whatever it is you’re facing – offensively, defensively whatever it is – and you try to make that work. Sometimes that means it’s the same thing, sometimes it’s doing what you’ve been doing, sometimes it might be doing something differently. I’m not saying that’s the right way to do it, I’m just saying that’s what happened in that particular year. Had we played somebody other than Chicago, San Francisco or Buffalo, I’m sure you’d be looking at a bunch of different chapters in a book but we didn’t, that’s the way it was. I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s the right thing or the wrong thing to do but that’s what we did.