This is a rough transcription of one of the interviews of the two Houston Texans upper management figures who spoke at the NFL Combine yesterday, General Manager Rick Smith and Head Coach Gary Kubiak. You can listen to the whole thing on the HoustonTexans.com podcast center.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on Cam Newton)
"I haven't had a chance to visit with him yet since I've got here, I have had a chance to look at him as a player. Tremendous athlete. What he accomplished last year in college football was as good as there can be. So, tremendous athlete, get a chance to take a look at him over the weekend, and I'm sure he's got a bright future in this league."
(on Jerrod Johnson and how important it is to do well here)
"Obviously not far from us, down the road, so we know a lot about him. Followed his career at A&M, goes into last season as a very highly touted player. What did he end up starting, 4 or 5 games? I think we as coaches have to go back and assess his career up to that point, because it was very positive, he was doing a lot of great things. Very talented, it's easy in this business as a quarterback to go through some tough times, and he went through those tough times this year, but that doesn't mean that he can't regain that form and that confidence in our league. We'll take a look at his ability, I know he's a great young man, I played with his dad. He's got a chance this weekend to show that he's capable of doing that."
(on if there's anyway they won't take defense at the beginning of the draft)
"I think you always talk about taking the best player for your football team, Tim, but you and I both know we had big problems on that side of the ball last year. We made a big commitment to Wade to come in and get our defensive football team going very quickly, and we've got a lot of improvement to make in that area. We'll have to evaluate the draft, that won't change, but obviously that's a big part of our football team that needs correcting."
(on how much they'll rely on Wade to scout defenders)
"A great deal. A great deal. I've known Wade a long time, of course, and he's very impressive as a football coach. But being in meeting as we prepared for free agency, as we start to prepare for the draft, to listen to him talk about players, how he evaluates players, I think that's a huge strength of his. And so we'll be leaning on him big-time. That's what we brought him here for, we're going to listen to him, and we're going to get this defensive football team turned around as quick as we can."
(on the nose tackle and how important it is, the qualities you look for)
"It's very important. One of the biggest things, a lot of people look at a nose guard and think he has to be a big guy, a huge guy, Wade has played with both. He's had the big guys, he's had the small quick guys like Ratliff at Dallas. When you look at our football team right now, you have Earl Mitchell, who's a young guy that played well for us last year. Shaun Cody. We think they both give us an excellent chance to do a good job at the nose position. We'll be a little smaller there as we get started."
"It's very important. Changing the defense for us, it's a big change across the board going from the 4-3 to a 3-4, but obviously that position has got to be played well, and we think we've got a couple of guys capable of doing that."
(on Mario Williams and his role in a 3-4)
"Go back to when Wade was in Buffalo and he had Bruce Smith, we see it a lot that way. What we'll do, his hand can go down, his hand can come up, he can come off the edge. But it's our job as coaches to put him in the best position to be successful and make plays. I see him doing a lot of things, I think he'll give Wade some flexibility.
(on punching the Colts in the mouth last season at the start of the season)
"They punched back real good about seven or eight weeks later. They've been the standard in our division for a long time, the one that we're all trying to catch, so to speak. They do a great job. But they're all about consistency, which is something we're trying to find as a football team and an organization in Texas. So I think it's about 16 weeks, not opening week, not 4 or 5 weeks throughout the season, but it's about being a good football team 16 times."
(have Kubiak and Smith second-guessed their evaluations defensively?)
"I don't second-guess. I think we've accumulated some very good football players on our team, we've had a lot of draft choices that are defensive football players. You're right that our progress offensively has been pretty darn consistent, and I think one of the reasons is that we've held the same group together. A lot of that's coaching and players also. On defense, we have had some change. The nucleus of DeMeco and Mario, been pretty set in what we're doing. Of course, we add Cushing to that last year, those three guys together missed 20 something games last year. I think one of the biggest issues we had especially on defense last year, was missed time by key players. You know, we didn't play well on that side of the ball, we go get a coach who's proven to have some great defenses in this league for a very long time. He's also done it very quickly when he's made changes in football teams. We're going to lean on Wade big-time to get that consistent for us also."
"It's very important. We've got two guys, of course we let Eugene go a week ago, and of course Bernard is free as a free agent. So we've got two guys we've been playing with that we don't know what's gonna happen, or well, we obviously know what's going to happen with one. It's a key position for our team. We think Troy Nolan's made a lot of ground up, we think he's got a chance to be an excellent starter, and there has been some talk about us moving Glover. We'll see what happens with our football team."
(on Kareem Jackson)
"Just talked to him yesterday. I think he's going to be a great player, I really do. We drafted him, we put him in a tough spot as a player, starting from day one. We know he went through some tough times, our whole back end went through some tough times, but to be a great player in this league, I think you need to go through some of that. The thing I'm impressed about with Kareem, is through last year he never missed a day, never missed a practice, never missed a game, and when you're able to withstand that type of stuff, you will go through tough times. The biggest bounce you usually make is from year one to year two so I'm expecting him to do that."
(on Glover Quin possibly being a good safety)
"He likes to play around the box John, we play him in nickel, inside. He's a physical guy, likes to mix it up, loves to tackle, those type of things. We see him playing around the ball a lot more, he's a leader, very smart young man, could call our defenses, could do a lot of those type of things for our football teams. As I said earlier though, that's yet to be determined, it all depends on what happens throughout this offseason, with the draft, cause he was our best corner. He was our best corner last year. So we'll see what happens."
(on if they're afraid to go young in the secondary this season)
"Well, we're probably still going to be young. There's a lot to see what happens over this offseason, free agency, whenever that does take place, we'll see. We're still going to be a relatively young secondary. But I think if a guy like Kareem makes the jump he's supposed to make, if we're able to get better in the draft at that position, you know, Wade feels good about it, that's all that matters."
(on if free agency is the place they'll go to as far as adding experience to the secondary)
"I think so. I think it's something we've obviously looked at. Whether or not that happens right now remains to be seen, but it's something that we looked at. We know where our holes are as we get started with our defensive football team. It probably starts with corner and outside linebacker right now with our football team. We've got to fix those things."
(on bringing Bernard Pollard back)
"It's very important. All the guys right now that would be considered free are very important to our football team, but there's so much to be done between then and now. We'll see."
(on the potential impact of the lockout and how it affects the coaching staff)
"It hasn't been any different for us. We're proceeding very optimistic. Hope something gets done and nothing changes. We know there's gonna be football in 2011, so our preparation has not changed one bit. Like everybody else. If something does take place, we'll adjust and be able to handle it, but we know we're gonna play we gotta get ready to go."
(on Cushing's PED suspension possibly affecting his play going forward)
"I don't have any doubt. Brian's probably the best worker we have on our football team. Nobody goes at it any harder or cares more about what he's doing than Brian. We put him through some very tough situations last year. Obviously he missed the month, we lose DeMeco, we bounce him to Mike, we bounce him back to Sam. We put Brian though some tough situations last year, Wade will settle him down this year. But Brian's gonna be a great player--he has been a great player in this league--we went through defensively, our whole defensive side of the ball went through a tough spell last year. He'll bounce back, he'll be fine."