For many Texans fans this day was a long time coming, for Gary Kubiak it was almost destiny. He had entered the 2013 season as the fourth longest tenured head coach in the NFL. As the late and great former ball coach Bum Phillips once said, “There’s two kinds of coaches, them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.”
Kubiak, the guy that never worried about his own job status, the guy that always fell on the sword after losses was just trying to hold on long enough to try and reward his players with a chance to do something special, play in a Super Bowl.
Laughable now isn’t it?
OK. It has been for a while now.
It never was for him. We’ve all heard how much of a nice guy he is, how no one cares about getting this team to the next level and rewarding this city with a championship more than he does. It’s all true, but “he’s a nice guy” wasn’t going to get it done. It was never going to get it done.
Kubiak was never going to make it to that “ten year club” among NFL head coaches. Now-a-days, it is the few the proud, not the lucky. Bill Belichick is the longest tenured head coach in the NFL, heading the Patriots since the 2000 season while Tom Coughlin has lead the Giants since 2004. Marvin Lewis has hung on in Cincinnati for 11 seasons (okay maybe there is a lucky one out of the current bunch). The Packers Mike McCarthey and the Saints Sean Payton were both hired in 2006, the same off season the Texans Hired Gary Kubiak.
The “ten year club” used to have a few more members than it does now, Jeff Fisher spent 17 seasons with the Oilers/Titans while Andy Reid lasted 14 seasons in Philadelphia before transforming the Kansas City Chiefs this season. Former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio made it nine years as did John Fox during his stay in Carolina. We could certainly go a little further back and make note of Ditka’s tenure with Chicago, Marv Levy’s 12 year career in Buffalo and Bill Cowher’s 15 seasons in Pittsburgh.
The league and owners patience has changed since then.
Expectations change every year for every team, well, almost every team, my apologies Jacksonville, Oakland, St. Louis. It’s no different in any sport when it comes down to conversations players and coaches as well as front office executives have prior to the season about aspirations of making a deep playoff run or even thinking they have a shot at a Super Bowl. Having briefly revisited some names form the past and some that still coach presently, it is important noting that there are 21 coaches in the NFL today that have 3 years tenure or less with their current teams.
Winning doesn’t cure all. Those back-to-back AFC South division championships Kubiak referenced in his statement released through the Texans Friday afternoon didn’t cure the disdain that fans had for his ineptitude in managing a game, preparing his personnel week in and week out, the ill-disciplined team this 2013 Texans team has become. Injuries. Every team has them and that excuse wasn’t going to fly this time. It was a nice couple of years, and expectations for a trip to a Super Bowl at season’s end this year certainly would have made fans forgive and forget. Ah, but they’ll never forget.
I’m not sure at what point, but Bob McNair has known for a little while now that he was going to fire Kubiak. He won’t admit it, but he’s known. What else could McNair have done with the situation after Kubiak pulled Case Keenum for Matt Schaub in the third quarter for the second time in four games?
What else could McNair have done after Kubiak refused to hold DJ Swearinger accountable for his poor play Thursday night?
There was only one thing left to do, and Bob did it. Not when he wanted to, but he did it. McNair didn’t become a billionaire because he was nice. He didn’t get to be where he is because he was a guy that gave those working under him 2nd and 3rd and 4th chances. I had to believe that there was a shrewd, no but’s, no BS guy in there somewhere. He didn’t necessarily prove anything to us by releasing Kubiak Friday, but at the very least, he did what needed to be done. He gave the fans what they wanted, yes, but not because it’s what you wanted. McNair made this move because he had to, because this organization needs to move on.
The Texans can now begin their search for a new head coach. The Texans can now give Keenum his shot and allow him to make the best of an opportunity that, let’s be honest, fell into his lap.
He may turn out to be a real solid starting QB in this league. He may just very well make a lot of money holding a clipboard as a backup, like Schaub’s predecessor David Carr. However, the Texans need to give a look as well as complete their look at Keenum. He’s got value. Where that value is, is up to the Texans and any of the other 31 NFL teams that may be looking for a QB in the near future.