The Houston Texans fired head coach Gary Kubiak Friday morning after a 27-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Houston came into 2013 expecting to make a deep playoff run, but have lost 11 straight games to fall to a league worst 2-11.
Texans owner Bob McNair announced that the team’s defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will finish the season as the interim head coach.
Kubiak was the fourth longest tenured coach in the league and held a 61-64 record while leading the Texans. He led the team to the franchise’s first division titles in 2011 and 2012. However, his previous success was not enough for him to survive the horrid 2012 campaign. McNair pointed out that decision to let Kubiak go in mid-season was not easy.
“It was difficult for me because I think so much of Gary,” McNair said. “We’re here to have a winning culture and this year has not contributed to that.”
The winning culture looked fine early in the season with opening wins against San Diego and Tennessee, but their losing streak ensued which was dominated by mental mistakes in close games and poor quarterback play.
The performance of Kubiak’s quarterbacks was really the difference between him continuing his tenure and joining the unemployment line. The Texans had one of the elite rosters in the NFL in 2011, but injuries to starting quarterback Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart meant the year had to be played out with rookie T.J. Yates. While Yates performed acceptably for the circumstances, it held the team back from a Super Bowl run. The past two years has seen Schaub as the one under the microscope. In 2012 he was underwhelming and this season he’s been overwhelmingly bad, leading to being replaced by Case Keenum. Kubiak came to Houston from Denver where he had a reputation of developing quarterbacks, his biggest success being Hall of Famer John Elway. His failure to have similar success in the lone star state is the biggest reason for his firing.
The job loss tops an already difficult year for Kubiak who has struggled health wise. He suffered a transient ischemic attack on November 3rd at the end of the first half in their game against the Indianapolis Colts. Kubiak only missed one game, but some have indicated that his health may have been an issue when it came to keeping the oft-penalized team under control.
McNair has said that the search for Kubiak’s replacement is already underway while General Manager Rick Smith has said that the entire roster is going to be evaluated over the final three weeks of the season.
“We’ve got three weeks of an evaluation process left and we’ve got to right the ship.'” Smith said.
As for Kubiak the rest and time away from the stress of being an NFL head coach will be much-needed, but he isn’t expected to be away from the game for too long. His reputation as a great offensive coordinator is still intact and it hasn’t been lost on the league that he took the Texans to a pair of division titles even though the team had never finished above .500 before he arrived. The firing from the Texans may be tough, but Kubiak’s future is still bright.
By James Hadley