Perception is often seen as reality and in the case of the Houston Texans it was perceived that the message of head coach Gary Kubiak just wasn’t getting across to his roster. There are a number of instances where a change in the “messenger” is just what a team needs to shake up the organization and get things back on track. Two seasons ago it was in Indianapolis with the jettisoning of Peyton Manning, Jim Caldwell, and Bill Polian in favor of Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano, and Ryan Grigson. This season has been the remarkable turnaround in Kansas City behind Andy Reid and John Dorsey, selected to replace Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli.
Perhaps these two examples are why owner Bob McNair chose to “pull the trigger” with a quarter of the season remaining, and then perhaps not. What I do know is there is ALWAYS a situation, a story, a dynamic behind the actual spin coming out of an NFL front office that goes well beyond the perception created . . . it’s the actual reality. Unfortunately it’s often a tale that rarely gets told as coaches and clubs choose to walk the line of “non-disparagement” in hopes of leveraging their future of finding new employment and finding a new head coach.
What we do know is something went terribly wrong in Houston this season and ultimately someone had to pay for it. Sometimes it’s the head coach, sometimes a coordinator, sometimes a GM. A lot depends upon who controls the REALITY behind the PERCEPTION. Melissa Jacobs of the TheFootballGirl.com looks at a very plausible reason in releasing the Texan’s head coach before the end of the season.
TFE would be interested in what Houston fans think about the move?
The Football Educator
Losing ten NFL games in a row as a head coach is clearly not the path to job security. In the case of Gary Kubiak, losing an 11th straight game to perennial bottom feeder Jacksonville was the final nail in the coffin.
The only element of Kubiak’s firing that came as a surprise was the timing. Traditionally NFL head coaches get their walking papers on Black Monday, the day after Week 17 concludes. All eight fired head coaches in 2012 were let go following the season.
Former Denver Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist acknowledges the odd timing in the case of the Texans. Without knowing Kubiak’s specific situation, he believes firing a coach in-season usually goes one of two ways.
“A coach may be painted into a corner by being asked to do something he’s uncomfortable with like fire coordinators or other coaches,” said Sundquist who now runs the website, TheFootballEducator.com. “Or he’s fired because he did something so agregious that the owner or G.M. can’t stand to be around him another second. There’s no way Gary would rub you the wrong way like that.”
But the timing of Kubiak’s firing remains the overpowering question. Was his firing at this particular juncture unjust, or an example that other owners should follow in the future?
Kubiak lost his locker room weeks ago. Andre Johnson, the Texans’ best offensive player by a mile, declared that his team sucked as an offense. Coaches still respected as authority figures don’t inspire players to speak in such a manner. No matter how great a guy Kubiak is (and by all accounts he’s the nicest man in football), if the players on a team collectively don’t want their leader and aren’t motivated to play for him, why delay the inevitable? Especially when you have a roster like Houston’s that is sprinkled with extreme talent. How much residual damage are you facing when you force Johnson, J.J. Watt, Johnathan Joseph and other players to play for a coach they no longer respect as a football mind? If anything, firing a lame duck in-season is an olive branch from the owner to the player, a signal that ‘hey, you’re important enough and deserve some wins so I’m going to try to make that happen immediately.’