Doom for Dom?

Houston coach Dom Capers, the only head coach the Texans ever have known, discusses several of the issues circling around the NFL's worst team - including his shaky job status - and Sunday's game between the 49ers and Texans.

RE: Why hasn't your club been a little more successful?

"We just haven't made the plays that we've had to make. We haven't been consistent enough in our executions. I don't think that it's been a problem with effort, because the effort has been there. As we all know in this league, a little thing here and a little thing there can make the difference. We had a very tough schedule during the first half of the season. I think the first nine games were the toughest in the NFL. During that period of time we had a hard time with some of our top players. We lost (defensive end) Gary Walker for probably a month after the Pittsburgh game. We had a hard time getting (running back) Dominick Davis and (wide receiver) Andre Johnson on the field at the same time. I do think that we played much better during the second half of the season. We had a three week run where we lost games in the last thirty seconds of the game. We were up by ten against the Rams and lost that game in overtime. We went ahead of Baltimore with a minute to go in the game and then went down. We had our opportunities at Tennessee and we missed a couple of field goals. It's been one of those years where we haven't been able to convert at the critical times in the game. Most of these games come down to who can make the plays at the critical times."

RE: When you started the season, did you think you guys had legitimate playoff hopes?

"There's always a lot of talk of that. This is my second time of going through the expansion process. I felt we'd have a chance our first three years and I thought we'd make good constant progress. We went from four wins the first year to five wins the second year and seven wins the third year. We became more competitive as a team but as I look at our schedule this year there were three teams in the AFC last year that had winning records and didn't make the playoffs. Those were three good football teams. You had to be a 10-6 team last year to be in the playoffs. It's a tremendous jump from a 7-9 team to a 10-6 team. That's one of the biggest jumps you have to make. If you're a playoff team then you're one of the elite teams in the league. I knew that would be a stretch but like anything in this business the expectations change from year one to year two."

RE: If you had to do it all over would you changed the offense for David Carr in the beginning of the year?

"I think that David liked the change. I think that David's played his best football here as of late. I've been asked many times, what do I think about David and I say talk to me at the end of the year. That's when I think they'll see that he's playing his best football. We've gone through a lot of transitions in the offensive line, but David has been one of the constants. He's played every play. He's a stable guy to where he handles the ups and downs. He continues to come in and go to work and he's gotten better at it."

RE: Do you think that he'll be a fixture with the Texans?

"I do. If he's not, I don't know who would be."

RE: Obviously there is a lot of speculation about this game, so do you approach this any different than you would any other game?

"Not really. You can't get caught up in all of those things. People are going to speculate and those things go on all the time. If you let that affect your approach to the job then I think you make a big mistake."

RE: Do you have any meetings set up with the owner?

"No. We've been in constant communication. (Founder) Robert McNair has been as supportive as you can be. We're all frustrated with the results of the season. There's nothing really new or different."

RE: How much would another No. 1 pick help you guys?

"I think it would help any team. One of the things about expansion teams is that you don't have a group of six or seven year veterans who've been with your team. We've played a lot of guys here before they were ready to play. It's been on-the-job training, but that's what you go through when you start a new team. With every draft class these guys come in and you've got to factor them in, so they play right away."

RE: Does your offensive line need a major overhaul?

"I think that there will be more of a nucleus there headed into next year than there's been at any point in time. Like a lot of teams you look and see if you need to add a player. There's far more of a nucleus there than what there has been. I think that there were some young guys who got hurt. Chester Pitts has done a nice job at left tackle. It will be in better shape than it has been this year."

RE: In watching film of Alex Smith do you see similarities in what he and David Carr had to go through?

"We put David out there in the first year and we had five rookies on the field. We'd taken two veteran offensive tackles in the expansion drafts, but neither one of them factored in because of injury. We had kind of a make-shift offensive line that first year. David played every play, showing his toughness, and he battled through. Watching Alex Smith, he's certainly a good athlete and he has all the arm strength to make all the throws. He probably has a much better nucleus around him than what David had his first year."

RE: What was your reaction when Dan Reeves was bought in?

"I've known Dan for a long time. We've competed against each other and we were in the same division when I was a head coach at Carolina. We played them when he was with the Giants. Dan is one of the guys who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, not only as a coach, but as a person. We've communicated several times before Mr. McNair decided to bring him in to do some consultant work. If there was anybody that I felt comfortable about on a consult basis it was Dan Reeves. He's been a head coach, been through some tough situations and he's been fired three times. He can look at things and relate to some of the things that you're going through. When he initially came in, he was out to practice a couple of times. He's mostly been at home looking at tape. It hasn't been like a daily interaction."

RE: With all the speculation going on over there, does it make you look over your shoulder?

"No. There's always been a comfort level. There's always been a mutual respect between Dan Reeves and myself."

RE: Has he made suggestions and have you taken him up on some of his advice?

"He hasn't made one suggestion."

RE: How has this experience of a building the Texans franchise been different from building the Panthers?

"We took two different approaches. Back with the Panthers, free agency was in its infancy stages, so we brought in a lot of free agents. We brought in a number of established players and we won. As you guys remember we beat the 49ers three out the first four times we played them. We won the division the second year and we won twenty games in the first two years. We were playing to go to the Super Bowl the second year. After that, people expect you to be in it. Just looking at it I felt that our short-term goals were excellent, but long-term I didn't think it was good. When we got into year three and four and our expectations rose, some of our real good players began to descend. Coming in here we decided that we'd bring young players in, and we knew that we wouldn't be good the first couple of years. You just can't put enough talented together to go out and compete against people. I felt very good for the first three years. We were making constant progress. We played guys before they were ready to play. They do that in this league, but most of the time they have a nucleus to build from. We didn't have that nucleus. I thought things were going according to plan prior to this year. This has been a disappointing year. These last eight games we've certainly had our chances, but we haven't been able to make the plays to put it over the top in order to win the close games."

RE: What do you have to say to those people who say that you've been too loyal to your coaches?

"I've been around this business a long time and I view loyalty as a strength rather than a weakness. I think in this day in age if you knee-jerk react the minute you face a little adversity, you just change. I think when you change for change sake you can spin your wheels. I think certain organizations in the league will change every three years. I always viewed loyalty as a strength I think that you have to be objective in your evaluations."

RE: What do you think about the fans that may be disappointed if you all win this upcoming game?

"I'm sure that that sentiment has been out there for a month or so. As a coach and a player you aren't influenced by those things. I guess you understand the fans' mentality, but your job is to win every week. You don't work this hard or put your heart and soul and the hours in the season to ever even think about those things."

RE: Will Carr be more involved in calling plays during this last game?

"Not anymore than he has this whole year. He's been very involved over the last few weeks. He's done a good job of it."


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