Gary Kubiak is in his fourth season as head coach of the Houston Texans. Despite the preseason excitement of fans and media who posited that the Texans were ready to earn the franchise’s first playoff berth, the one thing that keeps getting clearer and clearer — tough loss after tough loss — is that the franchise isn’t moving forward.
Kubiak has reached his coaching plateau with this team.
The Texans lost another heartbreaker Sunday at home, this time to the Indianapolis Colts, the 15th time Houston has lost to Indy in 16 games since entering the league. Jumping out to a 17-point lead wasn’t enough. Neither was the 20-7 lead at the half.
Three consecutive losses to AFC South competition — twice to the Colts. Back-to-back “must-have” games that Kubiak couldn’t grab for his club.
Sitting at 5-6, where do the Texans go from here?
Was the season lost last Monday night against the Titans when Kris Brown missed the potential game-tying field goal after Kubiak elected not to try for extra yardage to try and shorten the 49-yard attempt?
Failure to close out close games late is a direct reflection of a team’s head coach in the NFL, and 2009 has not been kind to Kubiak.
Missed field goals against the Colts three weeks back and last Monday night are just two instances. But what about the defeats to Jacksonville and Arizona, when the offense couldn’t score from the 1-yard line?
Kubiak can’t seem to make a difference when the game is on the line in crunch time for this team — the very moment when a head coach has to be a difference-maker.
Late-game struggles not enough for you? Sunday’s game aside, what about the team’s inability to start with any offensive firepower on the opening possession? More alarming is the fact that the team scripts the first 15 offensive plays of the game.
There’s no doubt that Kubiak had a very good coaching resume when he was hired by the Houston franchise.
As quarterbacks coach for San Francisco under George Seifert, he helped Steve Young capture his second MVP in the ’94 season en route to the Niners’ Super Bowl XXIX victory over the Chargers.
As Mike Shanahan’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Denver for 11 seasons, Kubiak won two Super Bowls and the Broncos produced the most total yards (66,501) and touchdowns (465) in the league during that span. Clearly, Houston thought it was getting a qualified candidate — one who helped offenses put up big-time numbers while serving under big-time head coaches.
Kubiak succeeded Dom Capers in Houston in January 2006. Here’s a look at Kubiak’s record with the Texans.
Gary Kubiak's Texans profile:
Total: 27-32, .458 win percentage
The thing is, Kubiak was qualified for this head coaching job. But for whatever reason, he just hasn’t been able to take the Texans to the next level — the playoffs, in a league where turnarounds are apt to occur within a shorter amount of time than most sports.
We see situations like this all the time in every sport — accomplished coordinators who just may not be head coach material. Charlie Weis might be a perfect example of that, and he could be out the door in South Bend.
Owner Bob McNair fired Dom Capers following four non-playoff seasons, and four playoff-less seasons looks like Kubiak’s fate right now.
With a roster more talented than its 5-6 record indicates, Kubiak’s exit from Houston should only be inevitable.
Dave Miller is the Web Manager of the National Football Post. He enjoys coffee at any time of the day, CW teen dramas and has an appreciation for girls in boots. You can follow him on Twitter at Miller_Dave, where he constantly chronicles every moment of his mundane life.