HoustonTexans Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Q: When you see a defensive performance like the Giants had, how do you counteract that?
A: We have our work cut out for us. Obviously, it was special up front with the things they do and with the people they do it with. In this league, everything starts with trying to find a way to keep your quarterback upright. That performance last week was one for the ages, it was unbelievable. We're going to have to hunker down and find a way to keep our quarterback upright the best way we can and go from there. It definitely starts with protecting the quarterback.
Q: What's the status with your offensive line?
A: We've lost Dwayne Brown for a month, and he's going into the third week of his suspension. We have been playing with (Rashad) Butler, our left tackle, a young swing kid who has been with us. That's our only change. The only difference from last year is we have a new startling left guard, Wade Smith, a young man we picked up in free agency from Kansas City last year.
Q: Is losing that tackle a big reason for the 11 sacks in the first three games?
A: No, I mean Dwayne played the first two, so with the last two games there have been four. If you spread that out over two games, I guess it gets a little bit more manageable. I just think it's a matter of how we play. Against Washington and Dallas, we had a lot of penalties, third-down and longs. We put ourselves in some poor situations and in this league, if you do that and drop back too much, good people are going to get your quarterback down. I just think we did a better job this past week. Obviously we ran the ball well and kept our quarterback out of harm's way.
Q: What's your plan with Brian Cushing this weekend?
A: Put in work. It's good to have him back, and obviously we've missed him on the defensive side of the ball. It's nice to see him in the meeting room a few minutes ago, being ready to go. He'll go right back to work and there'll be some rush there from that standpoint, but I know no one is working harder. The biggest thing is that you can't make up those four games of snaps that everyone else has played in this league, and those are things you worry about. He's too valuable to this team, and we'll put him right to work.
Q: He's a New Jersey guy, so there's a lot of interest in him. How has he dealt with everything that happened?
A: Obviously, he is very disappointed. Anytime as a player, and I can't speak for all of them, to my history is if you give time back in this league for anything other than an injury, I mean golly it's hard to live with. Careers are so short and special, and to miss time like that. Brian will tell you that his time away really makes you appreciate what you have, and realize how important the game is to you and how important your teammates are to you and just the day-to-day grind of the National Football League. I think that's what you see from that standpoint. What was the question again?
Q: How did he personally deal with the suspension?
A: We can't have any contact with him, so he went back home. He was back there with his parents, working out at his old high school. I'm not worried about Brian from a work standpoint. He works harder than anybody we have. I know his buzz and his hum from that standpoint. It's just the snaps you can't make up for. It's just going out there and running in the defense, being in your gap, being in coverage, all those things that keep players sharp week in and week out he's missed out on for a month, and that'll be a big thing. I'm not worried about his conditioning level at all.
Q: Anything with Andre Johnson?
A: No. We're going to perceive this week as we did last week, he will not practice today but he's feeling a lot better. If he makes the progress through the course of this week that he made over the weekend, I would expect him to be ready to go, but we'll have to see. He will not practice today.
Q: How about Jacoby Jones?
A: He's day-to-day, too. He's got a calf, a good kick in the calf. He got a good strained bruise, he is day-to-day. He will not practice today, neither, so we'll see.
Q: Talk about Derrick Ward and how he's been for you:
A: He's done a good job. When we got him, I think he was a little overweight, and I challenged him to get down. He's done that for me. He's picked up what we're doing very quickly, and I think he's going to help us a great deal. He did a good job the other day, and was very efficient with what he did for our team, and he's only going to get better within our system. He's a nice compliment to Arian (Foster) and Steve (Slaton). He's a big, powerful guy, and we're happy to get him. It's another chance for a player, some guys rise to the occasion when they get a second or third chance, and we're hoping he continues to do that.
Q: Yours is a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs. When you look at Tom Coughlin and what he did with Jacksonville, is that an aberration with an expansion team?
A: It's really hard for me to answer because I wasn't here the first four years when they got started, so it's difficult for me to answer. When I got here, it was evident that we felt we had to start over. We thought the fact of where they were from a football team standpoint, we thought the only way we're going to build this team for a long haul was to do it through the draft. Just to go young and play young players, and that's what we've done over the course of the past four or five years. The job that Tom did in Jacksonville was incredible, and I was on the bad end of that. He came out to Denver and beat us that time in the playoffs I remember. He's a great football coach, and I have a lot of respect for him not only as a coach but as a man. He does a hell of a job.
Q: Where do you think your team is right now?
A: First off, I think we have a good football team and we're very capable on any given Sunday. We've also got a young football team, I may have four or five guys in my room that have actually put on a uniform in a playoff game in this league. All these guys are all young players and they want to get there, and we want to get there, but I know how hard that is to do. We just have to stay focused one week at a time. It is a young team that is growing together, and the coaching staff is growing together since we've been together going on our fifth year with a few changes. We're trying to keep things in perspective and trying to find a way to be more consistent in what we do.
Q: Talk about Matt Schaub and how you think he can become an elite quarterback in this league?A: He loves the game. For every good one I've ever been around, he loves to play and step between the white lines. He's that type of guy. He lives here, and he's the first one here in the morning and the last one to leave. It's one thing to do that, and it's another to do that for all the right reasons. He does it for all the right reasons. He's a leader and our guys really look to him. He's a very smart guy, and a smart quarterback as far as I've ever coached as far as handling a load gameplan wise, and getting everyone in the right spot, doing the right thing. He's made of all the right stuff, and if he's going to go out and throw it out there 50 times, he has proven that he can do that and be effective. If he needs to throw it 25 times for us to win, he can handle that, too. He's a very young player and doesn't have a lot of start time under his belt, but he's surely on the climb. Keeping him healthy is a big key for our team.
HoustonTexans QB Matt Schaub
Q: What are your thoughts on the Giants' pass rush against the Bears last week?
A: Well, obviously they're a very good pass rush. They're one of the best in the league. They have a tremendous front four – they're very athletic, they have a lot of size – so they present a lot of challenges and you just have to be up to it and be ready to go and be on top of your protections.
Q: How different is your passing scheme from the Bears? Were they sort of vulnerable to it because of the deep drops?
A: Yeah. Their scheme is a little bit different than ours in what they do and their dropback stuff and how they handle certain protections – the Bears are somewhat different than what we do.
Q: You had no sacks last week. Are you getting the ball out a little bit quicker?
A: Yeah. We made a conscious effort to try to change up some of the things that we do and just concentrate on getting the ball out because the Raiders – they have a pretty good front as well. They can create some pressure and bring some blitzes so it was about getting the ball out and getting it in our receivers' hands to make a play and move the pocket a little bit.
Q: What has Derrick Ward given your offense?
A: He's a veteran guy with a lot of experience and he's very patient in his reads, especially in our zone scheme and he gives us a good change of pace. He's a between the tackles type of guy. He can get it down hill and make a guy miss and then run through some tackles.
Q: We just saw that Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones didn't practice – how does that affect your offense?
A: Well, those are guys that are playmakers for us and obviously Andre has been doing it for a long time – a guy that can handle a lot for us and a hard worker who demands a lot of attention when he's on the field in where he lines up and where he is, but we can't change everything that we do because one or two guys aren't in there. We've got to plug the next guy in there and go play. Obviously it changes our thoughts a little bit if he's not out there with us in some of our playcalling but at the same time we have to still go play and execute and make plays.
Q: Is there a different feel about your team this year?
A: You know, there is. The more experience that guys get along the way the last couple of years the more veteran we'll become. The more we go through certain situations and coming into this year we've been through all of those and we're a veteran team and a more mature team and we go out expecting to win every week and that's our mindset and no matter what goes on in a game, whether we're winning or we're losing or how a game is unfolding, we still have that expectation that we're going to win and make the plays necessary to win the football game.
Q: Is that something new this year or did you start seeing that last year, too?
A: We started getting it last year, especially late in the year – we went on a four-game winning streak to close out the season to get us to 9-7 and had a chance with some help at making the playoffs Week 17. That help didn't come for us, but we started to gain that knowledge and that expectation level last year and we really carried that into the off-season and into our preparation for the 2010 season.
Q: Sage Rosenfels is Manning's backup. What's your relationship with him like?
A: It was a good relationship. He's a guy that had some experience. He's been around the league for a number of years so we definitely fed off of one another and gave each other encouragement and helped each other watching film and in our game plan preparation.
Q: Is this something that could be beneficial to have him with the Giants or has the offense evolved too much since then?
A: It's evolved since he left. It's been a couple of years so it's different than when he was here.
Q: How was Brian Cushing today in practice?
A: I didn't really get to see him much because when the defense is working on their stuff I'm back talking with my coaches and going over gameplan and our preparation, so I didn't really get to see much of him, but he's been working hard and he's ready to go.
Q: Were you nervous? After four weeks he's probably just ready to hit anything.
A: Well, luckily I don't' have to go against him because we have the scout team preparing us and we weren't in shoulder pads today so I wasn't worried about him hitting me, but he's definitely eager and ready to play.
Q: What affect is the absence of Dwayne Brown going to have on your offense?
A: Well, it's been two weeks now and Butler has really stepped in and played well. He's a guy that has played for us in years past and it's just about an opportunity for him. He's really taken advantage of it and played well and gained a lot of experience in the last couple of weeks. He's played well, so we expect him to continue to get better as we wait for Dwayne to get back.
Q: Who sticks out to you on the Giants defense when you watch film?
A: Well, it's hard to pick one person in particular. They're a group that feeds off of each other and they have playmakers all over the field, not just in the front four – that's the obvious part of it, but they're back ends are some veteran guys that have been around this league and played a lot and can make some plays. So, yeah, their complete defense – it can do a lot.
Q: They obviously have to think run first with your offense, but does it make a difference that the Giants use a three safety system?
A: You know, that's a personnel thing and that's what they choose to do…we're just going to concentrate on what we have to do to be successful and what we have to do to win the football game.
Q: How good do you think Andre Johnson really is?
A: He's by far the best that I've ever seen play this game. He's the best in the game today. He has that rare combination that everyone looks for with the size, the speed, the strength, the hands, the intelligence, the route running. The thing that sets Dre apart in my mind having worked with him now for going on four years is he's one of the hardest workers that I've seen and that's rare from the position that he plays – you know, the stereotypical wide receiver. He comes to work every day willing to do whatever it takes to win – he's in the weight room working out, he's in meetings, he's focused, he's willing to stay after practice and catch routes with me, so he's just a very unselfish guy that just wants to win and I think that everyone is starting to realize what he's all about now in the past couple of years.
Q: What are some of the things that you've seen defenses do to try to stop him?
A: Well, we've seen quite a few different types of defenses. There's only so much you can do without compromising anything on the other side of the field, whether it be in the pass game or even in the run game, but we've seen a variety of double coverages and bracket-type coverages and different things of that nature.