March 22, 2018

Gary Kubiak: It Had To Happen

In light of the recent events in the Houston Texans organization with head coach Gary Kubiak being released, it seemed only fitting that it happened like this. Let me explain. Yes, everyone was tired of Coach Kubiak and yes he deserved to be released based on the results he has produced. But if you draft well and develop your players properly, you won’t have seasons of complete implosion. The Kubiak era started off odd to begin with by having the head coach hired prior to having a general manager in place. The general manager was later hired and it was based upon the recommendation of the newly acquired head coach. Kubiak inherited a train wreck from the beginning, but he had a great draft to start the foundation of his team.


After going through his first season and finishing 6-10 with a terrible and shell shocked quarterback, Kubiak realized that he could no longer use David Carr as his quarterback of the future. The rumors were that when he got to Houston he wanted Jake Plummer as his new quarterback, but his former comrade in Mike Shanahan would not let him go and decided to trade him to Tampa Bay. This led to Plummer’s immediate retirement and he never played a down for Tampa Bay. So, with Carr being a wreck that could not be recognized as a quarterback, Coach Kubiak sought after Matt Schaub, the reserve quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.


With a new quarterback in place, it looked as if the Texans had what they needed to move forward. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Kubiak may have drastically improved the offense but the defense was severly lacking. Instead of going out and getting a qualified defensive coordinator, Kubiak kept employing non-qualified defensive coaches that had no business being on the staff. With poor drafting and lack of qualified coaches on the defensive side, Kubiak generated very subpar records over his first five seasons and only had one winning season. His seasonal records for his first five seasons went like this: 6-10, 8-8, 8-8, 9-7 and 6-10. It wasn’t until Wade Phillips was paired with Kubiak that the true ability of the team was realized. The Texans went 10-6 and won their first division title and first playoff birth. The Texans also went on to win their first playoff game. In the midst of all the excitement of the 2011 season, the Texans lost two key players from both sides of the ball. In game 5, they lost outside linebacker Mario Williams and later in the season in week 10 they lost quarterback Matt Schaub. The 2011 season went on with the Texans true potential unrealized.


Throughout Kubiak’s tenure, it was littered with bad decision making at times, poor clock management and lack of a killer instinct when the team was ahead. This drove most fans and analysts alike crazy. This garnered the moniker that the Texans were soft because prior to the Texans landing Phillips they allowed too many teams back in the game by just running the ball and no offensive creativity. Times like this made me believe it wasn’t so much that Kubiak lacked creativity as much as it was him trying to keep his quarterback’s weaknesses from being exposed. Exposed? Yes, exposed. We (the fans) realized that Schaub lacked any lateral mobility. He lacked anticipation on his passes and he lacked arm strength to fit balls in tight windows. Another thing we found out with Kubiak’s system is that there was very little audibling, if any at all. The Texans had a system of checks but no real change of the actual plays. The checks that Schaub would do consisted of a pass checked to a run or vice versa. The real nail in the coffin for Kubiak was the inability to make in-game adjustments. Any adjustments that were done were either very subtle or had no effectiveness whatsoever.


Having Kubiak as a head coach was far from the worst thing like some fans would lead you to believe, but being his first time as a head coach I had hoped that by year 3 or 4 it would all have come together for him, but it never did. This brings me to my point. With owner Bob McNair being a first time owner, it was difficult for him to separate his feelings for Kubiak as a friend from Kubiak as a coach. McNair wanted to pattern his organization after other winning and proven organizations like the Pittsburgh Steelers. What made the Steelers so successful is the continuity of the coaching staff. They also drafted well, developed their talent and didn’t go out and spend big on free agents. The way Kubiak exited had to happen this way, as much as I wanted him to recover from this and go on to win a championship. Kubiak and Schaub were joined at the hip. He had a player’s mentality and it showed when it was revealed that Peyton Manning was slated to join the Texans organization and Kubiak nixed the deal due to him not wanting to railroad Matt Schaub that way. It’s decisions like that which justify what Mr. McNair said about Kubiak not being able to make the tough decisions that benefit the organization as opposed to the player. Manning went to Denver and balled, while Schaub signed an extension only to be exposed as a limited quarterback outside of the pocket. Struggles in the red zone, pick sixes, injuries, failed draft picks, lack of depth on defense and losing streaks in multiple seasons all amassed and cost Kubiak his job.


In hindsight, it had to happen this way because, if you believe like most of us fans believe, Kubiak would not have been fired if he had won just 4 games. I say this because I believe Mr. McNair would have found a way to rationalize the losses and Kubiak would have been retained. So, for all of the diehard Texans fans out there that had lofty goals for the team this season, let it go and embrace change and trust that the next regime, whoever it may be, will get it done.


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