On Friday, the Houston Texans will reportedly sign Super Bowl champion, future Hall of Famer and 2002 Defensive Player of the Year, safety Ed Reed, to a three-year contract worth a maximum value of $15 million.
This is an incredibly savvy move by the Texans and their outstanding general manager, Rick Smith. After losing Glover Quin in free agency to the Detroit Lions, the Texans desperately needed to add a ball hawk to their secondary, and Reed certainly fits the bill with his 70 career interceptions (including playoffs). While he isn’t the vocal in the way that Ray Lewis was, Reed will bring leadership into the locker room and on the field for Houston.
While some may see this move as the final piece in the Texans’ championship puzzle, I don’t. Unfortunately for the Texans and their fans, it doesn’t matter who they sign in the free-agent period. It doesn’t matter who they draft. The Texans aren’t going to win the Super Bowl next season.
I just can’t see the Texans ever winning a Super Bowl with Gary Kubiak as their head coach and Matt Schaub as their quarterback.
When Kubiak was hired as the second head coach in franchise history following the 2005 season, he was saddled with incumbent quarterback David Carr, the first player selected in the history of the Texans franchise. It took Kubiak one season (and possibly shorter) to figure out that Carr wasn’t the guy, as the team stumbled to a 6-10 record.
The following offseason, the Texans completed a trade with the Atlanta Falcons for Schaub, lavished him with a new contract and declared him their starter. At the time, this move was met with applause throughout the league. Schaub was a highly regarded young signal-caller who had sparkled in limited playing time.
Since that moment, Kubiak and Schaub have been attached at the hip, for better or worse, until firing do them part. For the first few years of their football marriage, it seemed as if the Texans defense was doing its best to force a divorce between the team and Kubiak/Schaub. In their first four campaigns together, the Texans went 8-8 (2007), 8-8 (2008), 9-7 (2009) and 6-10 (2010). Schaub finally broke out in 2009, when he tossed 29 touchdown passes against only 15 interceptions, but he couldn’t always stay healthy, and the Texans defense, particularly the secondary, was abysmal.
In 2011, after owner Bob McNair made the decision to retain Kubiak, the team finally broke through the glass ceiling and made the playoffs by virtue of winning the AFC South. Without a healthy Schaub, lost for the season with a foot injury, the Texans were able to win their first playoff game in franchise history against Cincinnati before falling on the road to the Baltimore Ravens.
Despite that loss, progress was made. It was easy to construct an argument that, had Schaub been under center, the Texans would have been a significant threat to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Enter 2012: the year that the Texans were supposed to put it all together.
On paper, they did. The team went 12-4, a franchise best regular-season mark. Defensive end J.J. Watt was the defensive player of the year. Running back Arian Foster led the league with 15 touchdowns. Schaub had 22 touchdown passes and only 12 interceptions.
Even with that success, 2012 proved to me that the Texans will not win a Super Bowl with Kubiak as the coach and Schaub as the quarterback.
Despite racing out to an 11-1 record, the Texans somehow managed to not acquire a first-round playoff bye, losing three of their final four games. The first was an absolute drubbing on a Monday night in December at the hands of the New England Patriots. For me, that game served as a reminder that Kubiak and Schaub simply aren’t in the same class as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Conventional wisdom in that ballgame said that the Texans should pound the rock with Foster, keeping the ball out of Brady’s hands. Once the Patriots took an early 7-0 lead, it was as if that plan evaporated, along with the Texans' chances of victory, as Schaub forced a ball into the end zone that was intercepted, and the rout was on.
That game was a microcosm of why the Texans can’t win with Kubiak and Schaub. Despite whatever success they might have against the bottom-feeders and mediocre teams in the league, the coach and quarterback simply aren’t on the elite level needed to be world champions.
From there, the Texans clinched the AFC South at home against the Colts, before dropping their final two games of the season in heinous fashion, to the Vikings at home and then on the road at Indianapolis, losing a first-round bye in the process. It was classic Kubiak and Schaub. Once it seemed like the team had put it all together, they took two steps backward and ensured themselves a tougher road to the Super Bowl.
In the Texans' two losses to close the season (at home against Minnesota, on the road in Indianapolis), Schaub threw zero touchdown passes and two interceptions. Kubiak was unable to get his team ready to play. These were critical missteps by the two, and it cost Houston dearly.
The Texans were able to win their first game of the postseason, an absolutely brutal 19-13 dud over the Cincinnati Bengals, a team with inferior talent to Houston. What’s sad about that game is that if Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had played even a decent game, Cincinnati would have won. Dalton was brutal, though, and the Texans were able to win, despite a horrendous performance by Schaub, whose second-quarter pick-six nearly cost Houston their season.
Again, a microcosm of why Kubiak and Schaub will never win a Super Bowl. After their skid to end the season, Houston had a chance to get back on track against the weaker Bengals, and ended up nearly losing the game. The Texans never looked like a championship team, and Schaub did more to lose the game than he did to win it.
The following week, Houston had the opportunity to claim revenge on the Patriots, as they traveled back to Foxborough for the right to advance to the AFC championship game. Much like their contest in December, it wasn’t close. New England rolled out to a 38-13 third quarter lead en route to a 41-28 victory, ending Houston’s season.
Now, some might point to the Texans defense and the injury to star linebacker Brian Cushing as the reason why the Texans ultimately didn’t claim home field, and certainly why they lost to New England. I think that’s a crock. It’s the NFL. Players get hurt. Star players, even. It happens. The great teams are able to respond, recover and thrive.
Kubiak, Schaub and the Texans were unable to do so. They stumbled to the finish line, and didn’t look like they belonged on the prime-time stage with teams like New England or Denver.
And, yeah, I know the Texans thrashed Baltimore in the regular season, but so did the Broncos, and look how that turned out for Denver in the postseason. Baltimore would have handled Houston with ease. Why? Because they have an elite coach and quarterback, and the Texans don’t.
I’m not saying that Kubiak and Schaub aren’t good at their jobs. They are. Kubiak managed to survive seasons of mediocrity that would have cost most coaches their positions, and has guided the team to two consecutive tournaments. Schaub is an above-average starting quarterback who is capable of putting up numbers and winning games.
But, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, I don’t have the confidence in either man to get the job done, and get the Texans over the hump.
So, while I love the signing of Reed, and think he’ll bring a much needed element of leadership to the Texans defense, it won’t make a difference. He doesn’t coach the team, and he doesn’t throw the football.
Will the Texans ever win a Super Bowl with Gary Kubiak and Matt Schaub?
The Texans will never win a Super Bowl with Kubiak and Schaub. Their marriage can only end in divorce.
Nick Kostos is the executive producer of the "SiriusXM Blitz," hosted by Rich Gannon and Adam Schein, on SiriusXM NFL Radio. You can follow Nick on Twitter.