If you are to believe everything you read and hear, whether through Twitter, blogs, newspapers, and radio stations here in Houston, Gary Kubiak and most of his staff will be fired on Monday. In addition, Rick Smith will be kept in place as the general manager and will take the lead role in finding a new head coach.
If these are truly the intentions of owner Bob McNair, the Texans are worse off than anyone thought.
Many arguments can be made for Kubiak to be released or retained. On one hand, the Texans were one of the worst offensive units in football when he took over in 2006, but have ranked in the top 10 in each of the last three seasons. Furthermore, when you talk to the players, there is no doubt they are in favor of keeping their coach.
On the other hand, the defense he inherited was also one of the worst and has continued to be, with the exception of being the 13th-ranked defense in 2009. And, if you look at the performance and body language of the players over the last few games, they still have that loser's mentality of "well, here we go again", which is something that a coaching staff has to correct.
Since Kubiak is an offensive mind, it's hard to say whether he has or hasn't kept up his end of the bargain. One of the most glaring mistakes he has made, though, is not going outside the "Denver philosophy" on the defensive side when things didn't improve.
Hiring a coordinator with more experience and credentials as a coach than Richard Smith and Frank Bush should have been a bigger priority. For example, after the 2008 season, Kubiak could have brought in Rod Marinelli, but instead chose to promote one of his friends and someone he was comfortable with, Bush.
Who should Bob McNair fire at the end of the season?
Regardless of your feeling about Gary Kubiak as a coach, one thing is certain, or at least, should be: Rick Smith should be the first one out the door.
When Kubiak took over in 2006, he and Charley Casserly directed the best draft in the team's history. You could say that it was one of the best draft's of the past 20 years in the entire NFL. Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston, and Owen Daniels have provided a cornerstone for this franchise to build on. Even seventh round pick David Anderson has been a regular contributor as a fourth receiver and on special teams. In only 5 seasons, this draft class has accounted for five Pro Bowl appearances and three All Pro honors.
During that draft, Casserly did what he did best. He trusted his scouts, compiled all of the information, and presented it to Kubiak. In the end, Kubiak made the final calls, and as you can see, the results were fantastic.
Since Rick Smith has taken over, the Texans' drafting has been pitiful at best. From 2007 through 2010, the draft's overseen by him have produced one Pro Bowl player, Brian Cushing, who was a no-brainer at the 15th overall pick in 2009.
Moreover, the worst secondary in the NFL is composed of players hand-picked by Smith, which is extremely disappointing in that it's the position he used to play. You would think he would know how to find players that require the skills that he himself did not have.
If nothing else, the organization is rarely embarrassed off the field, but Smith couldn't even help himself there. The very public spat with Dunta Robinson in 2009 led to the Texans' best player in the secondary being disenchanted with the organization, and eventually, his departure before this season. Regardless of your thoughts about Robinson's ability, he's certainly better than what is currently on the field, and probably would have signed for less had Smith worked harder at signing him after the 2008 season than trying to prove a point.
All in all, Kubiak's merits as a head coach are debatable and his firing wouldn't be unwarranted. However, there is no point arguing that Rick Smith should be let go before a decision is even considered about the head coach.
This has been said several times before, but this may be the most important offseason in the Houston Texans' short history. Hopefully, Bob McNair will see the facts and let go of the person that is undeniably responsible for this mess.