Interview with Chris Myers, Center, Houston Texans November 23rd, 2011 | Author: Sam Monson Weve been talking about the season that Houstons Chris Myers has been having at center for a while now. Weve even written an article about it! PFF was lucky enough to get to talk to Chris during his bye week, and in addition to talking about the usual things, we got his take on the Texans prospects with Matt Leinart under center, and what difference that makes to the Houston offense, and Myers himself as that center. Pro Football Focus: Thanks for taking the time out of your bye week to talk us here at PFF, Chris. First off, can you tell us a little about what an average day for you guys is like its more than just a few meetings, a practice and then going out on Sundays, right? Chris Myers: For the most part every NFL team pretty much has the same kind of schedule on a day-to-day basis. Mondays you come in after the game and you get a lift in and go over the film from the day before. Well get a bit of a run in to get loosened-up from the game the day before, and then Tuesdays are always off. Im married now with two little daughters so I spend most of my time with the family hanging out. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are the big work days. Im usually in the facility from 6:00 in the morning on Wednesdays, and I dont leave until 3:00 or 3:30-ish. Those are long days. Then on Fridays we get to tone back a little bit, more of a mental preparation. Weve had our big days of practice and were just putting the finishing touches on things getting ready for the game. Saturday rolls around and we go through a walkthrough, but were pretty much traveling the whole day for away games, and that can get pretty tedious. For home games we get pretty much have the day off and then go to the hotel in the evenings. PFF: How do you get your feedback from the Texans as players? CM: Just like you guys have your own grading scale, every position with us has their own grading scale. Our offensive line coach John Benton and Frank Pollack, our assistant coach individually grade every single play for every person on the line just like you guys. They check how you did, how your technique was, whether you got someone to the ground and it all gets tallied up into a score. Ours gets worked into a percentage. In our grading scale you have to get knockdowns and cuts to get a positive grade. When you do your job you just get a zero, but if you get a knockdown or a cut you get a plus, so youve got to get some cuts just to get above zero. Thats just the offensive line, every position is different. They rate us early Monday morning and then when we come in as a group well watch it as an offensive line and as an offense and check out the grades. PFF: How much do you get to watch of other players in the NFL at your position? Do you watch film of those guys? CM: I dont specifically watch other centers. Sometimes if were getting ready to play a team Ill try and watch some film of offenses that run a similar offense to ours. Teams that we know runs similar plays like the Raiders, the Falcons, or Seattle runs it a little bit, the zone blocking scheme, and youll watch a few different centers throughout the league. Just watching film on guys, you know, you dont even know them. You dont talk to them, you dont have their numbers, youre not friends with them, but like for instance Matt Birk, a quality center in the league for a long time, whenever wed get to play the Ravens or in the past, Minnesota Id talk to him after the game, just a mutual respect from center to center, you know what I mean? He watches me on film when hes scouting defenses hell face and vice versa. This past game I got to talk to Alex Mack after the game, the Cleveland center. Hes in his second year, went to the Pro-Bowl last year as a rookie, and had a heck of a season. We kind of just have that mutual respect cause theres only one other guy on that team playing center on the line, so you kind of have that respect and you know every single one in the league. PFF: So when youre watching somebody like Matt Birk a bigger type of center who has played primarily in power-blocking schemes are you watching for technique stuff, or just to check out another center? CM: Yea, both. I understand that his technique will be a little bit different because hes bigger, but Baltimore has been trying to implement this zone scheme this past offseason. They brought in Alex Gibbs, basically the founder of the zone schemes, to try and help them get that technique underway. Matt was talking to me after the game about that, saying its not easy, especially for bigger centers. I mean, Im only 285-290, and to be able to be in a zone scheme youve got to be quick off the ball and be able to get places and to the second level, be quick at everything youre doing, and thats what Matt was talking to me about after the game. PFF: At just 285lbs do you find it more difficult to go up against some of these behemoth 330lb, 2-gap nose tackles? CM: It depends on our scheme and the plays we have called. Because of the way we block things, offensive linemen arent usually alone on defensive tackles, aside from pass plays. In pass plays youve got to be able to man-up and do your own thing. Sometimes its even harder to block the lighter and quicker guys, because theyre able to react and read faster than bigger guys are. With bigger guys youre sometimes able to get around them and get play-side technique, and then get them cut. Thats the biggest thing with the 3-4 defenses were trying so hard to get the backside cut, and yeah, 3-4 defenses are tougher, but it depends who it is with those big tackles and what kind of schemes were running. PFF: So who are the toughest guys youve gone against? CM: In my career, Shaun Rogers has been a tough task in his prime. That one season Albert Haynesworth had in Tennessee he was pretty tough, and Kris Jenkins. When Jenkins was on point he was one of the best defensive tackles in the league and nobody could block him. But now youre up against guys like Haloti Ngata in Baltimore, and hes unbelievable. He can line up at nose tackle, 3-technique and defensive end and beat guys. Then youve got Justin Smith. I rarely have to go against him because he played DE in a 3-4, but speaking with my guards and stuff and hes having a heck of a year right now. PFF: Another Justin Smith fan! Weve been singing his praises for a long time, he must be one of the most underrated players around. CM: Oh, by far. PFF: So you havent seen the information behind the PFF paywall yet, Im curious if our grading matches your perception of games this year. What would you say has been your toughest game this season, your worse performance? CM: Oh, by far, Oakland! [Chris -2.4 grade against the Raiders was more than twice as bad as his next worst game and represented one of only two negative grades hes received this season] Our whole offensive line didnt grade well in that game. For some reason no, I dont want to say for some reason Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour have always been quality players, and this year theyre playing unbelievably. They had a scheme for us, and it worked tremendously. They stopped our run, and when we had to pass because they stopped the run, theyre so tall and so lanky inside that they were batting down balls. I think they batted down like six or seven balls [PFF counted 6] and I honestly think that was the difference in the game. We didnt have great grades as an offensive line blocking them, and they were able to bat down balls in the passing game. It was definitely our worst game of the season, and we kind of took that personally a little bit, and weve been trying to use that for the rest of the year. PFF: Richard Seymour is currently in our Top 3 for defensive tackles this season. CM: Yea, I wouldnt doubt it right now. PFF: So is there an area of your game you think youre better or worse at? Are you a better run blocker or pass protector, say? CM: I dont know. I definitely enjoy run blocking, I think that goes with the territory with offensive linemen but especially with our scheme and the way we can get on top of defensive linemen and linebackers before they have a chance to react. That helps us out as a line, and the fact that weve been together as a unit for a while now, were meshing really well. So I definitely enjoy run blocking more, I think any offensive lineman is going to say that, and like we talked about before, pass blocking, with me being a little bit lighter, Ive got to work on my technique and be a little bit stronger weight room wise to be able to hold in there. But that comes with the territory, because if I gained a few more pounds I woultnt be able to run block as well as I do. Its a give and take, but its working out right now, knock on wood. PFF: That was something else we were going to ask, how much of a difference does the time you guys have played together and had a chance to gel make? CM: It makes all the difference in the world when it comes to offensive linemen, especially in a system like this. Were all doing the exact same things at the same time, and we really dont even have to make too many calls anymore. Between Eric Winston, Mike Breisel and myself on the right side weve been starting together since 2008, and Mike and Eric together since 07. Duane has been starting since 2008, and Wade Smith has been starting since the beginning of last season, and hes a nine-year veteran so he didnt need much time to pick things up. Weve all been gelling real well, and for the most part we just go up to the line, dont make many calls anymore, just call out a number, and they cant tell if were going left or right. Its really helped us out. PFF: What about you personally youve always graded well for PFF, but this season you seem to have taken it to a new level. How do you feel about your play this year, are you aware of improvement? CM: I mean you can obviously tell when you have a decent game compared to an average game, like in the Oakland game I could tell that I didnt play well, and we didnt play well as a line. I think thats the way it goes, the way the offensive line goes, the team goes, and right now were playing really well as a team. When our line is playing well the team is playing well. I try not to look at it too much individually, thats just the way I am, supersititious wise, but I had a decent year last year, and Im just trying to build on that this year. PFF: So tell us what happened in Denver, why didnt things work out there, and you had to come to Houston to get the shot? CM: I ended up starting most of 2007, the first four or five were at left guard when I had to jump in for Ben Hamilton who was a guard there for a long time. Then Tom Nalen ended up getting hurt and I had to jump in at center. At the end of that season they werent sure if Tom was coming back. My contract was up, and they werent going to re-sign me as their starting center if Tom was coming back, and so was Ben Hamilton, and thats when Coach Kubiak searched me out. He was my offensive coordinator out in Denver before he came to Houston, and thats how that all started with the trade. Thats how it all worked out. PFF: It worked out pretty well for you it seems. CM: Yea, I cant complain too much, you know. That helped out my future big time so I owe a lot to Coach Kubiak and Rick Smith. PFF: How much does the Pro-Bowl mean to you guys as players these days. Its become the subject of a lot of derision, whats your take, do you take it seriously? CM: Yea, obviously you take it seriously, and if that honor gets bestowed on you at the end of the season its icing on the cake. Were only in the midst of things now, were only 10 games in, on our bye week, relaxing and speaking for our guys, you dont think about it too much. Right now were in the hunt to do something this franchise has never done make the playoffs, and onwards. Thats what our goal is right now, and if all of the accolades like Pro Bowls come afterwards then thats more icing on the cake, and I can talk to you about that if it happens down the line, but right now Im not even thinking about that type of stuff.