After Sunday’s loss in Tennessee to the Titans, the Houston Texans are now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and will encounter its sixth losing season in the franchise’s nine year history; just the second under head coach Gary Kubiak’s five year tenure with the team.
The Texans had consecutive 8-8 seasons in 2006 and 2007 before achieving its first winning season with a 9-7 record in 2009.
The 2010 season was filled with high expectations of a Houston city that wished for the first playoff appearance of its Texans franchise. The last time Houston experienced the NFL postseason was in 1993 when the Houston Oilers were eliminated in the divisional round 28-20 at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, in front of the largest crowd in Astrodome history.
After defeating the division monarch and defending AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts in the season opener at Reliant Stadium, fans were exuberant about the seemingly positive direction of the team and even dared to dream about winning the AFC South.
The Texans went on to start the season 4-2 before heading into Indianapolis to face the Colts on a Monday Night. Up to that point it seemed like the Texans had finally turned the corner and maybe the hopes were legitimate.
Then a trademark Matt Schaub interception ended any hope of a comeback.
The Texans would go on to lose seven of their next eight matches to assure a losing season. That’s where we are today.
So where does Texans owner Robert “Bob” McNair go from here? Well Mr. McNair, I’ll tell you.
1. Figure out your coaching situation. If you’re indeed going to stick with Gary Kubiak, do it and don’t look back next season. This season was supposed to be Kubiak’s last under his original contract but after last year’s 9-7 season you jumped ahead and signed him to a three year extension. If you fire Kubiak, you still have to pay him the remainder of his contract.
With the uncertainty of the CBA negotiations and the possibility of a lockout in 2011, firing Kubiak doesn’t seem like a good business choice for a team that is among the NFL leaders in revenue.
However, fans are tired of losing and at the very least want to see a sign of productive change and a high profile coach signing would definitely do that. Bill Cowher is definitely the sexy pick, especially after reports have surfaced that the Texans are among the Super Bowl winning coach’s top destinations.
Cowher is not the only option, however, as there will surely be a number of coaches on the market. Like always, though, the hot commodity is usually the first to go and the most expensive, but if there is a team that can splash the cash it’s the Houston Texans.
2. Find the leader. Leadership is lacking bad on this team. Your coach takes all the blame regardless of the results, your QB is soft-spoken and at times his mistakes halt him from leading by example, and your defense is the worst in the league so forget about any defensive player being the Ray Lewis of the Texans.
A huge reason why the Texans have not made the playoffs is due to lack of consistency and leadership; both of which go hand in hand. It’s like a body walking without a head.
If you do hire a new head coach make sure leadership is on the résumé. If you want Kubiak to stay then Matt Schaub better learn how to lead and do so consistently while not hurting the team on the win-loss column. Schaub is slowly losing this team and with the added pressure of the team trying to make the playoffs, the frustration of losing may have the locker room in turmoil in a hurry.
You can make the argument that Matt Schaub is a top NFL quarterback and he has the statistics and accolades to back up that argument. However, when it matters most, when the lights shine bright and the nation is watching, and when the Texans need their leader to direct them towards victory Matt Schaub has not shown up.
3. Hire a competent GM. Make it someone you would trust with your life Bob. You need someone capable that has the football knowledge and the business experience to build your team into a dynasty.
You need to have a stable foundation of good playmakers, not a couple of superstars and a bunch of budget cuts. Then you’ll just keep getting the worst defense in the league.
Let’s face it; the state of Texas does not need another Jerry Jones. Walk away Bob and leave the work to the professionals. Just do what you do best: collect the cash at the end of the day.
4. Change the mindset. What you do, how you act and the manner in which you carry yourself and your brand trickles down to the coaches and then the players. If you don’t care enough, chances are they won’t either.
For the most part you’ve been a very conservative minded and quiet owner, up until this season.
You’ve been more outspoken than usual including your talks with the players after their practice sessions. But Bob, you need to hate losing!
If you keep telling your players and coaches they’re on the right track and keep doing what they’re doing guess what? They’ll keep doing what they’re doing and they’ve been losing quite a bit. You don’t need more of the same Bob. The Houston Texans need to be pressured into winning and not mediocrity.
As usual, it’s the same offseason problems for the Houston Texans and it's going to keep being an issue until someone that has the ability to change that makes the changes that are necessary.
Robert McNair, you’re on the hot seat, and the city of Houston is tired of waiting.