The 2013 season has been an absolute disaster for the Houston Texans. A team that entered the year with Super Bowl aspirations has watched things go from bad to worse to surreal.
No official announcement has been made yet, but the widely held belief is that Wade Phillips will fill in while Kubiak is out, just as he did against the Colts.
The question now becomes what that means for the reeling Texans.
As Nate Davis of USA Today reports, Kubiak has been released from a Houston-area hospital after suffering what has been diagnosed as a transient ischemic attack, where blood flow to the brain is temporarily stopped, causing stroke-like symptoms.
It's believed Kubiak will be fine, but he offered no timetable for his return, stating, "I've been through an ordeal and my focus now is to get back to good health."
It was Phillips who ran practice on Monday according to Tania Ganguli of ESPN, so the prevailing school of thought is that while Kubiak's out, it will be Wade Phillips steering the ship.
In some respects, the Texans are lucky to have Phillips on the staff. The 66-year-old has 147 NFL games and over eight seasons under his belt as a head coach for five different teams. His career record as a head coach is 17 games over .500.
|Wade Phillips Head Coaching Resume|
|1985||New Orleans Saints||1-3||Interim|
|1993-1994||Denver Broncos||16-17||0-1 in playoffs|
|1998-2000||Buffalo Bills||29-21||0-2 in playoffs|
|2007-2010||Dallas Cowboys||35-24||1-2 in playoffs|
|83-66 overall record|
Where Kubiak's absence will be missed most is on offense. When healthy, Kubiak calls the plays for the Texans—a task that will now fall to offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
Many fans of the team may consider that a good thing. Kubiak's play-calling has come under fire as being too conservative of late.
That certainly wasn't the case against the Colts. Kubiak had young signal-caller Case Keenum come out firing down the field against Indy, and the result was a 21-3 halftime lead.
That lead evaporated in the second half, and after the game left tackle Duane Brown admitted to NFL Media's Steve Wyche (per NFL.com's Kevin Patra) that the chaos at halftime may have caused an offensive disconnect afterward. "Well, maybe," Brown said, "I don't communicate with the coaches that much, but I think that it had some kind of effect on it, now that you bring that up."
That's certainly understandable, but if the Texans are going to rally around their interim head coach, the staff needs to take inspiration from Kubiak's first half play calls.
At 2-6, the Texans are officially in nothing-to-lose mode. Just about everything that possibly could go wrong for the team has. Twice.
Rather than paddle upstream against that, embrace it.
Making the playoffs, at this point, is a pipe dream. There's no point in a conservative game plan.
Attack the Arizona defense in Week 10, especially with the running backs in Houston severely beaten up. If nothing else, the rest of the season can be used to determine whether or not Keenum is the long-term answer under center.
You aren't finding that out by having Keenum hand the ball off.
Carry the aggressiveness over to defense as well. Phillips is one of the NFL's best defensive coordinators. The Texans also have the NFL's best defensive player in J.J. Watt.
Attack a shaky Arizona offensive line with borderline recklessness. Dial up the volume on the blitz-o-meter to 11.
If it costs you, so be it, but this is a team that's lost six straight games. They desperately need a rallying point.
In no way am I trying to make light of Kubiak's condition, but this can be that rallying point. A win in the desert "for Kubiak."
Don't discount the power that emotion can have on a football team. One needs to look no further than across the AFC South at the 2012 "Chuckstrong" Colts for proof of the impact a head coach's illness can have on his players.
However, it's also worth noting that the Colts squad that went on that run to the playoffs a year ago was by no means a passive team, especially on offense.
If Phillips and the Texans are going to do the same, they need to adopt that philosophy on both sides of the ball. Take off the training wheels. Throw caution (and the football) to the wind.