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The End Of The Road For Gary Kubiak

BY PAUL GALLANT, SportsRadio 610
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(Credit: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – You think things have gone horribly wrong for the Texans this season?

Trust me. They can get worse. Because every day Gary Kubiak remains head coach in Houston, the potential remains for further disaster.

Ask yourself this question. Is there any way to rationalize Kubiak’s decision to bench quarterback Case Keenum for Matt Schaub?

My colleague Adam Spolane said pulling Keenum for Schaub gave the Texans the best chance to win. And vicariously, the best chance for Kubiak to save his job.

Sorry Skip Bayless Adam. You’re wrong.

“Matt Schaub” and “Best Chance to Win” can’t possibly exist in the same sentence. Unless we’re discussing the chances of the Oakland Raiders. This is the same quarterback who routinely turned every defense he faced this season into a fantasy football juggernaut. The same signal caller who is hopelessly inept in third and long situations. And I haven’t even touched on his “command” in the red zone, something he highlighted in spectacular fashion Sunday with two field goals and a fourth down incompletion into triple coverage.

And there’s only one way – at least to me – that Kubiak can save his job: by molding Case Keenum into a potential QB of the future. A chance he steamrolled by benching Keenum out of the blue.

“I was surprised [about the benching],” said Keenum after the game. “[I] obviously came into today expecting to play well. I felt like I prepared extremely well. I had a good feeling coming into this week.”

Keenum said the decision won’t affect his confidence. I have a really hard time believing that. The second year starter wasn’t Colts game good. But to be benched after an average performance (13-24, 170 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) for a clearly rusty Schaub (12-25, 155 yards) was asinine. Were I in his shoes, I’d at least be puzzled. If not completely flabbergasted. Or LIVID.

Think about it. The first average performance from a young quarterback making his fourth career start saw him sent to the pine. For an aging veteran with eroding skills.

Yeah.

Are you sick of the word “accountability”? I imagine so. That word – and the lack there of in the Texans’ organization – has been beaten to death on our airwaves the last few weeks. On Sunday, we found out the word DOES exist with this franchise. It exists randomly. And it exists without logic.

First we saw Keenum pulled for Schaub. Remember, four straight games with interceptions returned for touchdowns and a three pick train wreck in San Francisco couldn’t push him out of the starting lineup. It took an injury to see him off to the bench.

Then we saw wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins benched for multiple series against the Raiders late. A surprising move, especially considering he’s clearly the team’s number two receiver. And even more puzzling with the Texans in a multiple score hole.

“DeAndre made a lot of mistakes early in the game,” said Kubiak. “So we gave another guy a chance to play. That’s the bottom line.”

That’s the bottom line? That’s funny Gary. Where was the “bottom line” for the following?

  • Joe Marciano’s disastrous Special Teams
  • Randy Bullock’s Ray Finkle moments
  • Derek Newton’s inability to pass protect (despite a more than capable backup in Ryan Harris)
  • Brice McCain’s inability to do much of anything
  • Tim Dobbins skipping out on OTAs

The only time we’ve seen a “bottom line” is when a player embarrasses the Texans.

  • Cutting Sam Montgomery, Willie Jefferson, and Cierre Wood after smoking “cigars” in a hotel room
  • Cutting Ed Reed after he stated a fact: “We just got outplayed and outcoached.”
  • And maybe . . . just maybe . . . DeAndre Hopkins’ “art” earlier this week led to his late benching

That’s totally unacceptable. As was giving Matt Schaub his job back.

As I said before, Keenum wasn’t playing very well. He went three and out three times in a row during the third quarter. But Kubiak didn’t do his second year quarterback any favors on that third series. Why a 2-7 team would punt the ball on fourth and two at Oakland’s 48 is beyond me.

Check that. No it isn’t. Conservatism in tough situations is a code Gary Kubiak lives and dies by. And that code cost him dearly when Rashad Jennings rushed straight up the middle for an 80 yard touchdown THE VERY NEXT PLAY.

Kubes went to Schaub the following series. And while Matt’s play didn’t cost the Texans the game (despite touchdown-less drives ending at the Raiders’ 8, 12, and 8), his return to the field had serious repercussions. Because after the Texans’ last gasp, Schaub tore into wide receiver Andre Johnson, who stormed off the field with a minute left in the game.

Time for some politically correct, cliche laden, “nothing to see here” quotes!

“That’s just frustrations,” said Kubiak. “It doesn’t bother me if players get mad. I hope guys get mad when things aren’t going well…It’s just something those two will handle. They’ve played a lot of football together.”

“We will handle that,” said Schaub. “That is between us and our team. It won’t be a problem. We have been around each other long enough. It’s an emotional game and we have been through things before but we will handle it.”

“We just exchanged some words,” said Johnson. “It’s just the heat of the moment; once we got in the locker-room we talked about it. I’m not worried about it.”

But the Texans should be worried about it. Especially after Andre was asked if he wanted to stay with the team going forward.

“I’m under contract so I have to play my contract out,” Johnson said. ” I can’t do anything about that.”

Here’s something I doubt Andre and Matt discussed: the fact that with Case Keenum under center, Andre Johnson actually looks like a Hall of Fame caliber wide receiver. A dominant red zone threat…not to mention a guy who can slip by the defense for a big play downfield. Now that he’s had a taste of what he’s missed for…you know…his entire career, those words should seriously concern owner Bob McNair and company.

Because they don’t just apply to Andre’s future in Houston. They apply to players like J.J. Watt too. You think a guy that hates losing as much as Watt wants to stick around for much more of this? Doubtful.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Texans will get if they stick with Kubiak going forward. And I’m not talking about next season. I’m discussing next week.

Replacing Keenum with Schaub may not have hurt the Texans Sunday. But it’s a move that does hurt them in the future. Don’t you want to know if Keenum has the chops to be the quarterback of the future? Then give him more experience. See how he handles his playing time. Don’t bench him and potentially destroy his confidence.

Yet that’s exactly what Kubiak did. A move that didn’t result in a win. And a move that could be a detriment to the long term future of this franchise.

It’s impossible to get inside Kubiak’s mind and explain this decision. My take on why? Very similar to Adam’s above. He did it because he believes Schaub gave him the best chance to win (yeah…). And that winning out gives him the best chance to retain his job.

But come on Gary. Your team wasn’t good enough to beat the Raiders. And even if they did win, a victory over a mediocre team can’t erase the shame of a seven game losing streak. Especially with the Super Bowl aspirations they once had.

This season is long lost. And if the Texans want to learn what kind of team they have going forward, and what young players they can build a winner around, it’s time they move on from Gary Kubiak.

Now.

Get in contact with Paul Gallant on Twitter – @PaulyGRadio – or on Facebook – Paul Gallant.

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