As the clock was ticking down on Thursday night, finishing off the Houston Texans' 11th straight loss and second in three weeks to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the writing was on the wall for Gary Kubiak.
His team was expected to compete for a Super Bowl this year coming off a 12-4 season that saw the Texans lose in the divisional round to the New England Patriots.
Instead, the Texans have proven to be the worst team in the NFL. On Friday, Kubiak paid the price for it, as he was handed his walking papers. According to SportsCenter's Twitter account, Wade Phillips will take over as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
The Texans have fired head coach Gary Kubiak. Wade Phillips will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 6, 2013
The reality is this was the only choice Texans owner Bob McNair could make.
"This has been a very disappointing year," McNair said in a press conference on Friday (via NFL.com).
To have this string of losses that we've sustained is just totally unacceptable.
Even though we normally would wait until the end of year to evaluate our staff and our players, under these extreme circumstances, we decided it was in the best interest of the organization to go ahead and start the process now.
Despite the 2-11 record, the Texans do have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. They have pieces to build around in the offseason and can make a relatively quick turnaround.
However, the turnaround will first begin with finding the right quarterback.
We already know Matt Schaub is not that guy, but second-year quarterback Case Keenum has had his share of impressive performances—most notably in Weeks 9 and 10, when he threw for a combined 551 yards and six touchdowns in his second and third career starts against the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals.
Following those two big performances, Keenum has struggled for the most part, averaging 192.5 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions in the four games since.
But before the Texans make any major decisions on drafting a quarterback this year, it's reasonable to at least expect them to give Keenum the reins the rest of the way and see what he can do.
The problem is Kubiak has this strange fascination with Schaub. Two times in the past four games, Kubiak has brought in the 32-year-old quarterback and benched the 25-year-old Keenum.
11-straight losses, being swept by the Jaguars and no identity at quarterback…plenty of reasons for Gary Kubiak to be fired.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 6, 2013
Not only is he not giving his team the best chance to win games this season, but he's actively hurting the development of a guy who may be Houston's quarterback of the future.
"We have been playing a young guy, but Matt hasn’t changed,” Kubiak told Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle after Thursday's game. “He’s a dang good player and he is going to be. He has a lot more football left to play. I have a lot of confidence in him.”
What is the biggest reason for the Texans struggles this season?
That doesn't sound like the coach of a team with the worst record in the league. It also doesn't sound like a coach that should be playing for next season and looking to develop his young players.
Instead, it sounds like a coach that is still living in the past. It also sounds like a coach that has no idea how to properly develop a young quarterback.
Even if Keenum isn't the guy, there is no way the ownership of the Texans could trust Kubiak with whatever young quarterback they draft next year—whether it be Teddy Bridgewater or anyone else.
Mcnair and the rest of the front office in Houston did what they needed to do for the future of their franchise.
Kubiak's time in Houston needed to come to an end and it was better now than later.