THURSDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: TEXANS – WEEK 16
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
With LS Kevin McDermott, did the elbow thing pop up during the game, or did it get worse here during the week? (Aaron Wilson)"I found out about it after practice yesterday, so that's what I know."
You have a background with LS Patrick Scales. He has been here before as a backup snapper. (Aaron Wilson): "[Patrick Scales] has been here a couple times as a matter of fact. When we worked Kevin [McDermott] out, we worked Patrick out as well. I told Patrick at the time, I said, 'You had a great workout. All you need is a team to hire you. You're ready to go.' And I didn't think at that time it would be us, but it is. We'll get him ready to play, and he'll do a great job."
*Jerry, how difficult is it at this juncture in the season to incorporate a third long snapper? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"It's certainly not ideal. It's not something you plan on doing or you want to have happen. But the good news is we have a guy coming here – Patrick Scales – [that] has been here before. Our guys know him. He knows our system. He understands our calls. He has been through it for two training camps, so we're not starting from scratch. We're making the best out of an unfortunate situation."
Is it going to be a challenge going forward just to have three days to get that timing together even though you're not starting from scratch? (Jamison Hensley): "Every week is a challenge. This one has new elements to it, I guess, is the best way to describe it."
Jerry, some of the things the Jaguars did, it seems like it took some guys by surprise. When you play a team like that, is that something you're just going to have to expect, that they may throw caution to the wind and throw out more of the trick stuff?* (Aaron Wilson)* "We're on alert every week, because that's the nature of this league. And when we look at ourselves, we look at it with a very critical eye. Where are the holes? What are they looking at? What could they possibly do? What tendencies do we have? That particular day was not a surprise to us, necessarily. The fact that they both executed them very well and we didn't execute very well really was the result of the two things coming together. The punt fake, in particular, I thought they did a really good job of finding the hole, and it's remarkable that the same hole … Every defense or return game has certain elements to it where you think, 'Well, that might be a spot.' They ran it at the correct side, but it's remarkable that the first punt of the game was also a call that took away that, and so it's just one of those situations that it came together for them. And I have to do a better job of preparing our guys for it. I take full responsibility for it. As the famed Bay Area philosopher said, 'Nobody hates me more than me right now.' It's one of the things that the coach is responsible for those things. We didn't prepare well enough going into the game, and we didn't execute well enough during the game."
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak
The schedule comes out in April, and of course this game coming up appears on it. And now that it's finally here, does it occupy more of your thoughts than it normally would? (Joe Platania) "No. John [Harbaugh] gave me an opportunity to come here in Baltimore, and I didn't get excited because I knew we'd play a team that I had been with before. I got excited because I knew I had come into a team that had a chance to win a championship. That's why I'm proud to be here. It's a big game for our team, and it is the next game. I'm sure it'll be somewhat emotional for me – come Sunday it'll be a little different – but right now I have my hands full trying to figure out how to block [No.] 99 [J.J. Watt] and for us to move the ball. So, [I'm] just consumed with that, and [it's a] big, big football game for us."
What do you anticipate your emotions will be like? (Ryan Mink) "I don't know; I couldn't tell you. I don't know. [I've] never been through this before. That's a good thing. But that's my home; that's where I grew up. Obviously, it was part of my football life for eight years, but I grew up five miles from the stadium. So, other than getting a chance to see one of my boys that I haven't seen in about six months and seeing my mom [and] those types of things, it's the next football game. So, we'll see what happens, but I'm looking forward to it."
Gary, you had such a good, long run with [Houston]. How tough was it when you parted ways last year? (Aaron Wilson) "It's tough. I failed with that football team, so it's very difficult, and I understand the business and how it works. But it's funny how things work out, too. For me to have an opportunity with this organization, I'm just so appreciative of that and getting back to work. That's the best medicine for a football coach. Fortunately, John [Harbaugh] gave me an opportunity to come do that real quick, so I've been pretty consumed, and, like I said, really enjoying what I'm doing."
You know Texans DE J.J. Watt so well. What is it, in terms of trying to maybe contain him … Is that [going to play a large role in the offense's game plan]? (Aaron Wilson) "The biggest thing with J.J. [is] it's not like he's going to line up in one spot. He plays all over the field. He's very smart. [Texans head coach] Bill [O'Brien] moves him around, and everybody is going to get their opportunity to try to handle him. He's such a great player. But they're very active defensively. [They] lead the league in taking the ball away, so that's a big point of emphasis for us this week. [They are] very good in a lot of categories like third down, red zone – those types of things – scoring, not giving up a lot of points. So, [they are] a very good defensive football team, and if you help them out, you're in for a long day. We have to play better than we played last week, I know that."
Gary, how important was this opportunity that you have here in getting past what happened last year? And not just the results and losing the job – the health stuff, all that? How important was it for you to be back [coaching]? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I probably couldn't have told you that when I first got started, but now that I've been through it, I think it's extremely important – it's what I do. I've been doing it for a long, long time and plan on doing it for a long, long time some more, I guess I should say. But yes, it was important to get right back consumed into football and [to take on] another challenge as a football coach. Me and my wife picking up and moving – all those things – finding a new home, making my home here in Baltimore now. All those things got me going again, and now that I've been through it, I think it was extremely important."
So, if the opportunity presents itself, would you like to coach again [as a] head coach? (Mike Preston) "I don't think about that one at all; I can tell you that. I'm consumed with what I'm doing. Every opportunity I've ever had in my life, hopefully it's because I'm doing a good job and working my tail off where I'm at. So, I think if you worry about those things, you don't enjoy what you're doing at the time, and boy, am I enjoying what I'm doing right now. [I'm] just very proud to be a part of the Ravens, and we have some big games coming up here that I'm looking forward to."
You pretty much were the head coach for a large chunk of that franchise's history. Because of the way things ended, what are kind of your feelings toward the organization right now? (Jamison Hensley) "I have great feelings toward them. [Texans owner] Bob [McNair] gave me a chance that nobody else had ever given me, so I'm very grateful for that. And I'm very proud of the people that were there with me, the job that they were doing and the work that they were doing. It's a big chunk of my football life – eight years, a lot of football games and those types of things. So, you don't ever leave that. John [Harbaugh] made a great comment last week to his team talking about games, about the things you take with you when you move forward and let other things go, and I thought, 'Was he talking to me?' because that's a great comment. You have to take the good with you, take the positive, learn from what's going on, move forward in your life, and that's what I tried to do. And like I said, I'm very fortunate to be able to have a chance to move forward in such a great spot."
What's your last memory of that stadium being in it? (Ryan Mink) "I couldn't tell you. That's a good question – I'd have to think about that one. I probably don't have time. I don't know. Probably driving away – that was my last memory." (laughter)
Gary, how important has it been to develop a relationship with QB Joe Flacco, and how important do you feel like a play-caller and quarterback's relationship is to having a productive offense?* (Jeff Zrebiec)* "It's extremely important. As a coach, you can look at a guy and say, 'Boy, he can do everything. He can do this.' But if you're not doing what he's comfortable with, you can be putting him in a bad situation. Joe has been really good with me, and I think we really grooved through the bye week of stopping and saying, 'OK, Joe, here's what I'm seeing, tell me what you think.' And I kind of let him call the game in a lot of ways. On Friday, I give him my card, talk to him about what I think we need to be doing, but yet, I let him come to me and say, 'I like this first, this second, this third.' So, when you have a player like that, you need to listen. And I tried to do that. Hopefully I've done that well, but I think our relationship grows every week. I have a lot of confidence in him, and hopefully he has the same."
You played against him; he's been a high-profile quarterback in this league. Is there something where you're working with him every day that sort of surprised you? (Jeff Zrebiec) "His physical abilities are as good as I've ever been around. I've told you all that before. He works extremely hard at what he does. Joe [Flacco] is a grinder, hasn't missed a day of practice, hasn't missed a rep. I'm very impressed with that. I just think it's very important, too. [He's] very competitive, yet very much under control [on] game day. I could go on and on, but he's a big-time quarterback. He's a championship quarterback."
But you've found him very open to suggestions? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Oh, yes. When he starts talking, Joe [Flacco] likes to talk, so he'll let me know what he thinks. (laughter) But no, our relationship, it's been good. I coach him hard, but I have tremendous respect for him, and I think he knows that, and I need to listen to him. That's my job as a coach, and I think 'Rico' [quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison] has done a tremendous job with him."
Texans RB Arian Foster said this week that he credits you for giving him a chance to play in this league. What did you see in him as an undrafted rookie that made you give him [an opportunity]? (Jamison Hensley) "That's a while ago. Obviously, Arian was a very talented young man coming out [of college]. There were some things being said about this or that when he came out, so he wasn't drafted, for whatever reason – I don't know. But we gave him an opportunity, and Arian deserves the credit. He was on the practice squad, he's carrying helmets, he's the low end of the totem pole, and before the year was out – I think he played three games – and at that time, you knew, 'Hey, listen. Next guy.' So, you have to give the credit to Arian. He had the ability, and I think he flipped the switch as a pro in the way he goes about handling himself and playing the game, and we all see what he's become. [You're] very proud of a lot of guys you coach along the way, but I had a good relationship with him. [I'm] very proud of him."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Dean, in terms of the receiving tandem of WR Andre Johnson and WR DeAndre Hopkins and some of the other guys they have, what do you think of these guys? Are they one of the toughest ones you can think of? (Aaron Wilson) "Andre [Johnson] is still Andre. [DeAndre] Hopkins has really come along. They have a couple other quick, little guys. This is a good receiving corps, and I think the tight end [Garrett Graham] is going to be back. It's just a matter of whether the quarterback can get it out there to them. But I'm sure that Billy [Bill O'Brien] has a system, and he has had these guys in a system, so I'm sure we're going to see the same thing. But that's going to be a tough group to match up on outside."
Dean, how challenging is it when you don't know who the quarterback is going to be? A couple guys in the locker room said, "It's just more homework for us to do." How do you view that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You don't really have a lot of film on those guys. You can't really get into their personal traits on footwork, or if they look receivers off and stuff like that, because you really don't have enough [film] on them that way. But I think the thing that never changes usually – and I know Billy O'Brien pretty well – the system is not going to change. You may tweak it here or there, and who knows what he'll do that way, but I'm sure he's going to make it quarterback-friendly and make it so that they can … They have enough routes and enough arsenal, enough things in their playbook – Billy does with all his personnel groups and all this stuff. It's a lot of the old New England stuff. He can do it probably with any quarterback. He may just not be able to do everything that he could do with all the other guys. But he has had that role kind of all year with [Ryan] Mallet. Then it was [Ryan] Fitzpatrick. So, it's not like, 'OK, they've had this quarterback for three-straight years and have been doing this.' It's his first season, and he has had to roll a bunch of guys. I don't see him changing a whole lot."
Given the quarterback situation and how much they run the ball to begin with, are you expecting a heavy dose of RB Arian Foster? (Jon Meoli) "I would expect a heavy dose of [Arian] Foster no matter who the quarterback was. [When] you have a running back like that who has been that way for every year, they're a running football team. They throw the ball, [but] I tell you, they are a running football team. [Arian Foster], No. 80 [Andre Johnson], No. 10 [DeAndre Hopkins], those are three dynamic players, Pro Bowl players. So, you're going to get No. 23 [Foster] no matter who would have been the quarterback, so you have to be able to stop the run against this team. That's really [the way] it has always been against Houston, and it's not going to change any on Sunday."
Dean, in terms of red zone – they have to get done there first – but for DE J.J. Watt, how much do you spend time working on having some things prepared for when he does play tight end? (Aaron Wilson) "[J.J. Watt can lineup as] a tight end, and he's a good tight end. He's a good receiving tight end – not that he can't block – but it's just like anybody else you'd see down there, [like] if it was [Tony] Gonzalez or any other tight end. It's just that he's a tight end. Just because he's J.J. Watt … We know he's a very talented guy, and he can catch the ball, but it's not like all of a sudden we're going to overload the coverage towards him. He's a good tight end, and that's what we'll play him as."
How many conversations did you have with Gary Kubiak this week, and how much can he help you prepare for these guys? (Ryan Mink) "I think the thing with Gary [Kubiak] that we talked about was the personnel. I asked him about certain guys. The scheme parts are totally different. For him to give a scheme on Billy O'Brien's system wouldn't be much. He talked with me on things about [Texans defensive coordinator] Romeo Crennel on defense, because I spent time with Romeo. And I spent time with him talking really about people and what this guy does best and what he may be weak in or something like that. That's kind of where we exchanged ideas."
The snaps for some veteran guys, particularly OLB Terrell Suggs, are just slightly a little bit down from last year. Has there been any effort to try to conserve guys like that, or is it the way it's kind of worked out? (Garrett Downing) "It has been a conscious effort. You have four guys that can play out there, so why not play them all and have guys fresh at the end of the game? Rather than having a guy play 67 snaps and be worn out at the end of the game in a two-minute drill, if he has played 40 snaps he may have a little bit more. But the only way you could ever do that is if you have a guy that you feel good enough that you can put in there, and we're still going to function as the same defense. That situation, [it is] just the fact that we feel like we can play Pernell [McPhee], and we can play Elvis [Dumervil] – we can play a bunch of guys. I think it's always good. We do it up front, too. Really, if you look at the D-line last week, I think everybody played around 30 snaps – all four guys or something like that. Those guys up front, that's a tough road. It's a little different than the secondary; you don't usually rotate guys as much. Linebackers, usually not as much unless you have a sub linebacker. But especially outside guys that are rush guys, you like to keep them fresh, especially for third down."
How pleased were you with what CB Rashaan Melvin was able to do in his first game? (Luke Jones) "If we can keep rotating guys in every time their first game … Danny Gorrer got an interception the first game [and Rashann Melvin] made plays … So, we'll just rotate somebody new in. (laughter) No, I'm just kidding. He really did a great job. I think the first four plays he was in on. He was in on four plays. He was in on all four. I think his eyes got big when I blitzed him on the second one, but hey, he made a tackle for a loss. That's what was key. So, he really did a great job. I' m really proud of the way those guys prepared, and we have to do the same thing this week."
Of course, it seems like a running trend here – CB Asa Jackson goes down, he started last week – is it just becoming status quo where you lose another starting corner and you have to plug somebody back in? (Jamison Hensley)"Really, after a while, you kind of get numb to it. It's a challenge, but it's a good challenge in a way. I know the guys are going to prepare, and they're going to step up. That's just the kind of room that we have, and the expectations are high in our room. Some guy going in there, there's no way he's not going to be very good. That's not the expectation. The expectation is a guy is going to come in, and nothing is going to change on this defense. Hopefully we do a good enough job during the week as coaches to evaluate what the guy can do and try not to put him in too many tough situations."
S Terrence Brooks seemed to have an up-and-down season. Now that [Brooks' season is] over, what's your assessment? (Jon Meoli) "I think there's some times with Terrence … As a rookie, we moved him around a little bit. Probably in retrospect, I probably would have gone back and maybe just put him in one place and just left him there and let him soak. But we tried to teach him a bunch of different things. I'm not sure that was the best for him. I'll take the blame for that. I think he's going to be a really good football player, a really good football player. He's smart, but the game was a little different for him. And then when you're trying to learn a couple different spots, it kind of even became harder. When we had injuries, we moved guys here, moved them there, [and] that's tough on a rookie. I think a year from now, I think you'll see a really consistent player."
Have you made a decision on who will replace CB Asa Jackson in the starting lineup? (Jamison Hensley) "We're still evaluating this week. We have a few candidates out there, and we'll just see how it goes, and in different packages it might be different guys."