A Gift From the Owner
Gary Kubiak vows to make Texans owner Bob McNair "proud" of not firing him:Phillips in, Leinart out?
Gary Kubiak called it a "brutal day." Just imagine how the coaches Houston Texans owner Bob McNair let Kubiak fire feel.
In a move that was largely expected, though one that defies almost all conventional NFL logic and league history, McNair is bringing Kubiak back for a sixth season, for one more shot at doing what he hasn't been able to do before: Get the Texans into the playoffs.
On a Monday when the owner made Kubiak only the third coach in NFL history who's held onto his job after going five straight seasons without making the playoffs, the coach faced the media in his weekly press conference. Kubiak focused on the four defensive coaches that the Texans let go: coordinator Frank Bush, linebackers coach Johnny Holland, secondary coach David Gibbs and assistant linebackers coach Robert Saleh.
"Obviously, we’re going to go in another direction defensively," Kubiak said. "I appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in, the job that they did and the effort that they put forth. It’s a tough day from that standpoint. We’re going to move forward, and we’ve got some serious things to fix on the defensive side of the ball.”
McNair may have forced Kubiak to purge the defensive coaching staff, but the owner still allowed Kubiak to stick around to do it.
In many ways, McNair is placing his own reputation on the line with this move. The easier fan-friendly, public relations play would have been to jettison Kubiak and build up hope for the 2011 with a new beginning. But McNair clearly believes that Kubiak is still the right man for the job. He seems convinced that Kubiak who developed the NFL's leading rusher this season (Arian Foster) after having the league's leading passer last season (Matt Schaub) is something of an offensive genius who would not be easily replaced.
As for the defense?
McNair appears determined to bring in a coordinator with head coaching experience, one who could take control of that unit as an established authority — with former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips still the leading candidate. Kubiak admitted he'd be talking to Phillips as soon as possible.
Kubiak also dismissed any concerns about having to switch from the Texans' current 4-3 defensive scheme to the 3-4 system that Phillips uses.
Other revelations from the day after:
1). Kubiak said one of his goals is to make McNair "proud" of his decision to ignore the usual ways of the NFL and stick with his head coach.
"I appreciate Bob's confidence in me," Kubiak said. "We visited today and decided on a new direction. I know I have a lot of work to do and we have a lot of problems to fix.
"I am very lucky. I work for a great man that believes in me. That means a lot to me. I have a lot of work to do to make him proud."
2). McNair really believes in bad luck. The excruciating, hard-to-believe late-game losses — Jacksonville completing a 50-yard hail mary touchdown pass on the game's final play, the Texans D letting the Jets drive 72 yards in 40 seconds, falling to Baltimore on an interception return on the first play of overtime after an epic Monday night comeback, Andre Johnson fumbling away the ball with the Texans driving against San Diego, losing by a point at Denver after blowing a 17-0 lead — were cited as reasons to believe the Texans stand on the verge.
Of course, McNair didn't mention that two of the Texans' six wins could have also easily gone the other way — it took great comebacks to beat the Redskins and the Chiefs.
3). The Texans schedule does not look nearly as brutal on paper next season. That's one of the "perks" of going 6-10 in the parity-driven NFL.
Besides the home-and-homes with their three AFC South opponents, the Texans will host the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders, the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers next season. Their out-of-division road games will be the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
4). Matt Leinart's time in Houston looks like it will have been brief and uneventful. Having lasted a season in Houston without ending up on any embarrassing cellphone photos or appearing in a single game, the former USC star will be looking for a team where he has the chance to start.
That means somewhere where Schaub doesn't play.
"I want to be a starter in the league," Leinart said on the day when the Texan players cleaned out their lockers for the offseason. "I feel like I’ve paid my dues. I’ve sat for three and a half years now. I’ve played behind a Hall of Fame quarterback (Kurt Warner), which I think a lot of people don’t remember. Coming here, obviously, was not the way I had planned it, but I think Matt Schaub is a great quarterback and he’s had two great seasons back-to-back. So for me, I just want the opportunity."
5). Defensive end Mario Williams expects to be back at full strength after the sports hernia surgery that ended his season well before the start of training camp. In fact, Williams is setting his target date for a return to running as February.