HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It hasn’t been easy and it certainly hasn’t been pretty, but Texans coach Gary Kubiak is coming up on a milestone Sunday that has become increasingly harder for coaches to reach with one team.
The seventh-year head coach will be on the sideline for his 100th game when the Texans host the Tennessee Titans at Reliant Stadium. There have been twists and turns and highs and lows to get to this point.
“Are you sure it’s not 1000? I thought I had already coached my 100th one, I thought?,” Kubiak joked this week when reminded of the milestone he is approaching. “I think I can remember all 102 of them (including playoffs), how many ever there are. Hopefully there are a few more to come.”
Kubiak certainly seems in a good place with the 3-0 Texans standing as the only undefeated AFC team and showing signs of being a serious Super Bowl contender. But it has been quite a ride along the way.
Most thought Kubiak would be fired following the 2010 season when the franchise took a major step back and finished 6-10. It took him six seasons to finally break through to the playoffs, which was a testament to owner Bob McNair’s patience in this win-now mentality that prevails in sports at all levels.
Now, Kubiak is on the good side of things. It’s no longer the odyssey it once was when the Texans step on the field. With a team stocked with talented players on both sides of the football, the Kubiak and the Texans have the realistic expectation of winning every game.
“I don’t feel any different today than I ever feel,” said Kubiak, who has 50 wins and 49 losses in seven seasons. “I feel good about the fact that we could show up every week and win a football game. We’ve got our organization in that position now. I’ve said that to you for a few years is the thing you want to do in this business is have a good enough organization, good enough football team that every Sunday when you show up you’ve got a legitimate chance to win. We worked really hard to get ourselves in that position.”
A great deal of that success is attributed to Kubiak and the steadying, forceful presence he has been during these seven years with the franchise. He has won the respect of his players and coaches by combining compassion and being relentless in ways few coaches have ever figured out.
Perhaps some of that comes from the years he spent on the Denver Broncos sidelines as the backup to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway or even the 11 years he spent cutting his teeth as an assistant coach before McNair brought him home.
“He’s been in each one of our roles as an assistant coach,” said offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who left Denver to join Kubiak. “He knows what it takes. He knows what it takes to win. There’s so much work that you have to put in, but it doesn’t have to be drudgery. He makes it fun to work around. He understands that.
“I tell you what it’s all about winning too, but he takes care of you as a person, as an assistant coach, as a player. He understands. He’s a human being. I think that’s the best part about him, his personality.”
The players recognize it, too, especially Matt Schaub who has grown immensely under Kubiak during their time together.
“It’s been awesome, going on my sixth year here, now, just working with him and how much knowledge he has about the game of football and the work that he puts in,” Schaub said. “It’s pretty remarkable what he’s been able to accomplish in his career.
“As players, he has our utmost respect. He’s always treated us like men and really told us how it is, doesn’t sugarcoat anything, good or bad, and we respect that and he respects us. So it’s a great relationship between the players and the coaches, and him in particular.
“The road that he’s traveled since he’s been here has been up and down, but at the same time as a team, it’s been up and down,” Schaub continued. “To finally see that through last year, making some strides as a team, and now the start of this year, we’re on the right path.”