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Texans Ready to Face "Challenging" Saints Defense

Kubiak and Schaub preview Sunday's contest with the Saints

Houston Texans Coach Gary Kubiak Conference Call
September 21, 2011

What can you take out of the preseason game against the Saints?

"Obviously the game was pretty vanilla for both football teams. We had a lot of people playing. I don't know how much you take from it. Once the regular season starts that's probably what you're studying from. For us, it's more about staying focused on ourselves and trying to make sure we are correct in our mistakes. We had plenty of them, especially last week in Miami that we have to go fix for us to have an opportunity this weekend. The focus is on us more than anything right now."

What is about your running game that is most challenge for opposing defenses?

"I don't know. I don't think we ran the ball very well at all last week to be honest with you. We have to run the ball a lot better than that. We were committed to it and that is something we want to do as a football team. I think our Offensive Line Coach John Benton does a heck of a job with the group. We are just trying to stay committed to it as a football team. Usually when we are playing well, we are finding a way to stay on schedule and run the ball pretty well. It's really how we are built offensively and a point of emphasis with our football team."

How has Wade Phillips been as your new defensive coordinator this year?

"You can't have enough experience on your coaching staff and obviously last year we took a big step backwards defensively and we struggled, especially after we lost DeMeco (Ryans) for the back 10 weeks of the season. We needed to go in a different direction. Obviously Wade was available and he had many opportunities in his career in what he wanted to do and we are very fortunate that he chose to come back here. We were very concerned in the offseason with how we would be and how long it would take. We have been fortunate here early to get some things done without a normal offseason. We only really worked eight weeks in the new defensive scheme. (The Saints) will be a challenge this week, probably as big of a challenge as we will have all year. (The Saints) are excellent on the offensive side of the ball and present a lot of challenges defensively."

What do you like most about your new defense?

"I think the thing I like the most is everybody is pitching in. We have good offenses and defenses in this league and everybody has a couple marquee players that get a lot of credit. When it is all said and done it is really about how good you are as a group. I think we have production across the board from the group and that is encouraging. Scheme wise, when coaches have you in the right position you don't know who is going to make the play you just have to go in there and make it."

How has Mario Williams been with his switch to linebacker?

"It's a big change and it is a work in progress. The thing we have been encouraged about is every time he goes out he gets better. When you start playing standing up and you are the size Mario is that is a big change for you. I think he has really taken to what Wade (Phillips) and Reggie (Herring) are trying to teach him and how they are trying to bring him along. He still plays with his hand down in a lot of nickel. You have to give him the credit. He has been the one working and every time he goes out at practice or a game he seems to get better."

Were you surprised with how well the defense adapted to the new scheme with the lockout?

"I think every coach was concerned with what you were going to have team wise with once the lockout was over because we would like to think our guys are working their tail off and doing the right thing. Until your team walks in the door you don't know what you are going to get. Also, to be changing defensively was a big concern. I think one of the things we had going for us is that Wade has made some moves defensively and been able to turnaround some defenses pretty quickly. That was part of our thought process there. I don't think it's really complicated we are just trying to get people in the position and playing hard. We are off to a good start but a huge challenge this week."

Have you seen improvement in the passing game this year?

"Yeah but we have been nicked up on offense. We were nicked up at wide receiver throughout camp and early on in the season with Kevin (Walter) being nicked up. We went into to camp with just five wideouts. We had to go get a fifth wideout last week. On the offensive side of the ball, some of the continuity has taken some time because of them not being on the field together. If you are going to be successful in this business you have to find ways to adjust. That is what we are going through right now.

How has Jacoby Jones been?

"He has a banged-up knee coming out of the last game. We will see where he is today. It will be a day-to-day process. He got an opportunity last week to start for Kevin and playing well and that is why we wanted to keep him on our football team. We think his career is moving forward. He has done some good stuff and we are trying to get him consistent with everything he is doing. He has been good in the return game."

Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This game coming in you have a win streak. It's early, but the Saints won a Super Bowl a couple years ago. Is this a barometer game?

"Yes, I think first off, every week in this league is a barometer game as you progress through. Each week when you're doing good things it's a tough test, but none bigger than this week for us. I think this is a big game for both teams. You go through each week and for each team it gets bigger and bigger, but to go on the road in the tough environment against a team that like you said were the champs a few years ago, it's a great test for us and we're excited about. It's a team we know really well and they know us really well. I don't think either team is going to shy away from that having played against each other in the preseason for a few years now and having practiced against each other for the past few years. We know each other real well."

How much do you rely on the familiarity factor when you go up against a team, since typically you go up against an AFC team only once every four years?

"It's hard to rely too much on it because obviously in the preseason you don't show your whole playbook, you do your base stuff, play ball and I think that's true for both teams. You rely on the fact that you know each other's personnel. Obviously your base stuff and the things you like to do the most, you get to see that a little bit, but when you go into a gameplan in the regular season, both sides of the ball, you're going to have things you put in there specifically for each game, so you have to be prepared to see scouted looks and be ready for them."

How excited are you about your defnese and what they're doing?

"It's been exciting to watch them. Once we got to the regular season to see them go out in live situations and get after it a little bit. We saw it all through camp. We knew they had the potential to be real good, to be great. So far they've been playing extremely well. At times where the offense hasn't gotten it done, having to punt the ball or not converting on third down and putting them on the field, they go out there, get a third and out or get a turnover and get it right back to us. It's been great to see them play and go cut it loose, because we knew what we had going into the season having gone against them in training camp."

It seems like your team always has a running back you can rely on. How interchangeable are these guys?

"First off, it starts out up front for us. We have an offensive line that's been together now for a few years. The continuity that they have goes a long way for what we do in the run game as well as in the passing game. In pass protections, those guys work really well together and understand the calls and being able to make adjustments on the fly, I think that translates. The running backs have the ability to succeed in the offense. They're (Ben Tate and Arian Foster) both downhill runners, make one cut, get downhill and bring their shoulder pads and can run through guys and tacklers as well as make them miss. The fact that Arian's been out for us, Ben Tate's been forced to grow up pretty early. Obviously he missed all of last year with an injury. He's played very well for us. You look at his eye in the huddle. When Derrick Ward went down in week one, he just stepped in there and was ready to go. We're excited about what he's doing. He just has to keep growing, keep getting better and keep doing it."

How are you preparing for Will Smith's return? Is that a guy you need to prepare for?

"I think so. He's been a great player in this league. We're well aware of him coming back. Those guys up front are preparing for him. They have a ton of talent on the defense with Will, their whole defnese up front; Jonathan Vilma the middle linebacker is a great player with experience who understands how to make that go. The back end is very veteran and experienced and understands pass concepts."

Last year you guys started out 2-0 and things didn't go as planned. There are tons of expectations this year. How is this team different from last year's team?

"We're definitely excited about being 2-0, but it's not our goal. It's a steppingstone. This team has a very much businesslike approach. We won a game on the road last week, but it's on to the next one. You can't be satisfied or think you've arrived in this business, because the moment you do, you get knocked off, so you have to keep your head down, keep your blinders on and find the next win. That's our approach. We just have to go get ready to go play on Sunday."

The Saints had only 33 sacks a year ago, six on Sunday. What did you see in their defnese?

"They brought a lot of stunts, blitzes and pressure. You need to understand where your issues are, where you can get rid of the football to, when the defenses bring more guys than you can block. I think that's something we do fairly well. We need to be on top of things with our protections and where the blitzes can be potentially coming from and what they're doing behind it. There's definitely an issue there."

When Will Smith's suspension and the length was announced was there any part of you that thought "Great. I get his first game back"?

"No, we didn't think anything like that. It's unfortunate when anybody gets suspended. You want to go up against the best. You want to go up against teams when they have everyone out there."

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