Kubiak: Just Keep Battling

Houston Texans head coach, Gary Kubiak, talks to the media about the challenge of turning a team around in a division as tough as the AFC South, overcoming injuries, the importance of ball security, what he expects to see from the Colts this week, and more!

On how much the win over the Colts last year gave his team confidence going into this season...

"I don't know if a particular game does that. For us, it's been a learning process, and we're trying to turn this organization around and get it to the point where it feels like it can be a playoff team and eventually have a chance to compete for a championship someday. And to do that in this league, you have to get consistent. Our division is extremely difficult. We get a chance to play (the Colts), or in my opinion the World Champs, as good a team as there is in football, twice a year. So the steps we have to take are pretty big, but the thing that is right in front of us is we get a chance to play these guys. So if that's where we want to be someday, we're going to have to find a way to compete with teams such as the Colts. It makes it even more difficult doing it (in Indianapolis)."

On the improved quarterback play this year...

"Yes, they have both (Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels) played pretty well for us. Matt's gotten a little beaten up this year. He had a concussion and of course has the shoulder problem right now. He played very well when he was in there and healthy and Sage has come in and he's 3-0 as a starter this year. We've been very pleased with the progress that we've made at that position. We're trying to cut down our sacks, trying to be more efficient with the football, those types of things. We like the direction we're heading from that standpoint."

On both teams overcoming injuries...

"Yes, I know how they feel. It seems like for the last couple of years we've had our share of guys that have had to go on I.R. The thing that's been disturbing, they've been significant, some very serious injuries like Dunta Robinson and (Charles) Spencer that we had last year. Those are a part of the game and I think if you just make sure that you don't get in the mode of excuses and you just keep battling and giving other guys an opportunity, that's how your team gets better. And that's where we're at right now as a football team. We've actually probably through our problems gotten better because we've found some new players, we've picked up a few players that have become good players for us, and what it's done is strengthen our roster for the future."

On DE-Mario Williams not making the Pro Bowl...

"I think he's very deserving of making it but also he doesn't have to look any further than the example of DeMeco (Ryans) and what it takes to get there. DeMeco had a tremendous year last year. I thought he was deserving of a Pro Bowl shot. He got passed by and he just kept doing it and he's getting his shot this year. That's part of this league. It doesn't diminish what Mario has done and the type of year he's had. You never know how these things work out. He still may get there before the year is out. He's become a fine player, he's really become a pro. He's consistent in his play, and I think the future is extremely bright for him."

On Mario Williams being a No. 1 pick and people questioning him to having the year he has had...

"I think that's part of the process. Now that he's playing extremely well, things have worked out. It would be easy to sit here and say, ‘We told you so,' but we're not going to go there. One of the things that, I know it's helped me, I sat there as a rookie and watched John Elway go through that process of what it's like to be the first pick in the draft and all the pressure. I remember John making a comment one time, ‘They can have the money back.' We used to laugh. That's part of the pressure. When you deal with that and you keep battling as Mario did—Mario played last year eight weeks with an injured foot and never griped—took a lot of heat, had a lot of things said about him, but all he did was kept working, kept getting better, and you see what he's slowly becoming as a player in this league. He has a great future."

On Dwight Freeney and what can a coach do to help a player on I.R. ...

"It's a difficult process. Just yesterday I had Dunta Robinson in my office and he's facing some tremendous battles of getting back on the field, as I said, a very serious injury. One of the approaches I take when these guys go through this is really just trying to talk to them about how much I think they really have a true appreciation of their job. This league is hard. Being a great player is even harder because of the expectation levels week in and week out for you and your team make it difficult. Sometimes I don't know how much they really appreciate and just enjoy playing, and all of a sudden when you're out and you sit back and you watch, it really gives you a true appreciation for how fortunate you are and how lucky you are to play a game for a living. And not only that, but be great at it. There's no doubt in my mind, you look at a guy like Freeney, he'll be back and he'll be fine. He'll probably be better than he ever was. But that's what great players do, they find a way to work through those things."


RB Joseph Addai
Brett Coomer/AP

On RB-Joseph Addai...

"Joe's a hometown kid here from Houston so we know a lot about him, but the thing about him, he's very smart. I think he understands their scheme excessively well. Peyton (Manning) gets him into the best possible run opportunities and the kid takes advantage of it. He's carried that football quite a bit over the course of the last two years. I think he, just like the rest of his team, is poised and ready for a big run here at the end and into the playoffs. There's no doubt in my mind he'll play extremely well for (the Colts)."

On the Colts running game and despite lack of statistical success lately, if he remains confident in it because they have run it well in the past...

"It's funny how that stuff works, too. All of a sudden you will go a couple of weeks where maybe you're not running the ball well, but maybe it had something to do with how somebody was playing you defensively and what they were doing. I know when you look at the Raiders, the Raiders load up the box. They're an eight-man front. They have the corners just sit there and play man coverage. They really load up the box as far as that goes. Those things can turn real quick. It's kind of like for us, we haven't run the ball well the majority of the year and we've run it probably as well as we've run it over the course of the last three weeks. So I think those things kind of come in spurts. You just keep plugging away. I don't know if you really know from week to week what's going to be the key to each game, but there's no doubt in my mind that Joe (Addai), when given his opportunities, has been very successful for their football team."

On the Colts' ball security...

"And just the opposite, we've been about as bad as there has been in football protecting the ball. I think that comes with the maturity of a football team. I know when you have the leadership of Peyton (Manning) and Tony (Dungy) and the veteran players on that team, they know that they're very tough to beat anyway, and when they're protecting the ball, they're extremely difficult to beat. They do a great job of that. You don't have to look further in this league than Tampa Bay. A year ago they struggled and they lead the league turning the ball over. They come back this year and they turn it over I think maybe the least in football if I'm correct, or in the top three, and they win their division in Week 14. In this league, that's a huge difference between winning and losing, is protecting the football. We're young, but we have to learn to do it real fast or we're going to be in trouble ourselves."

On telling the team to take care of the ball being one thing and them doing it another...

"You hammer those things and you put in extra drills in practice. It was funny because this preseason we protected the ball as well as anybody in the game. We were very good. And we haven't had a game this year where we have not turned the ball over. I think it's part of maturing, it's part of guys growing up together, understanding the importance and then taking that importance to the field and protecting the ball."

On if he expects the Colts to play most of their regulars this week...

"Yes, I would. I know the direction they're headed and what they're preparing themselves to go do here in the month of January. If anything, I think Tony (Dungy) will step on the gas. That's the way he coaches, that's the way they run their football team. I know they've had some (injury) issues, but the one thing that hasn't changed is they're winning every week. This football team, I have the utmost respect for them and what they do and their players, and I don't expect anything different from them."

On the Colts still being among the league's best....

"There's no doubt in my mind. Just looking at them in general, I think Tony (Dungy) and that staff has done a job this year that's just incredible. People talk about injuries and you look at the issues Tony has had with his football team and the health, and to be sitting here at 12-2 and be the World Champs and gearing themselves up for another run, I would not be very surprised if these guys won this thing again. I just think that Tony and his staff have done a tremendous job with that football team, and I still think they're the measuring stick. I think the job that they do week in and week out is…I can't say enough good things about them."


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