Bob McNair and the Houston Texans Did the Right Thing by Keeping Gary Kubiak
Most Texans fans were pretty upset late last week when they heard that Gary Kubiak would be brought back for his sixth season with the Texans. For that reason, the following viewpoint will not be a popular one. People who wanted the coach to be ousted, should instead, direct their ire at Rick Smith and Bob McNair.
When Kubiak took the job in 2006, both sides of the ball were in shambles, but the primary issue was with an offense that was known for getting two yards a carry and throwing three-yard slant routes to Andre Johnson. Now, not only is the offense a viable one, it's one of the most potent and balanced in the league. Since he's an offensive coach, he has succeeded with this team in his area of expertise.
However, if you want to hold him responsible for hiring his friends and people with whom he's familiar, especially on the defensive side of the ball, I can certainly understand that. A case can easily be made that has led to the abomination that is known as the Texans defense. Before you do that, though, put yourself in his position.
Let's say your boss comes to you and says, "I'm giving you full control over who you bring in to help run your department." If you came from a successful organization, you'd surround yourself with people who you've worked with in the past that helped you succeed. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just human nature.
If the business were to fall apart in the aforementioned scenario, your boss would be just as much in the wrong as you. After all, he took a "hands off" approach and hoped that you would get it right.
After the Dom Capers era, where hiring friends and refusing to fire them even after cataclysmic results was a serious issue, you would think that Bob McNair would have learned his lesson. He doesn't have to be Jerry Jones, but he has to be some form of check to Kubiak's balance. Allowing Kubiak to name his general manager and all of his coaching staff, when he had never done so before, was a surprise coming from a businessman as decorated as McNair.
Instead, McNair should have seen that Kubiak was a first-time head coach that had no experience in building a staff or personnel department, and brought in an experienced general manager to assist him. Remember, his best draft came with Charley Casserly doing all of the leg work, so Kubiak could make informed decisions.
But no, the owner of the Texans decided to step aside and allow an unproven head coach to run the entire organization. This led to the hiring of one of the worst general managers in football, Rick Smith.
Like Kubiak, Smith was hardly qualified for the job. In Denver, he had very little input on the draft. His specialty was finding players out of the CFL, Arena and other professional leagues, and he has done a good job picking up street free agents for the Texans. His draft record, however, has been anything but good.
The 2006 draft that Kubiak presided over has since produced five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections. Four players—Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston and Owen Daniels—are cornerstones of the club. Throw in David Anderson, a steady fourth receiver, and you have the makeup of a draft that is considered by many to be one of the best in the league over the past 10 years.
Since then, the results have been much more disappointing. In the four drafts in which Rick Smith and his staff have been involved, he has only one Pro Bowl to his credit, and that was from Brian Cushing, who was considered to be a no-brainer at the 15th pick. Conversely, most of his picks have been either underachievers or players that were overdrafted.
Many members of the media claim that Kubiak chooses offensive players and Smith makes the calls on defensive players. So, take a look at some of the defensive players Smith has drafted from 2007 to 2009:
2007: Amobi Okoye (first), Fred Bennett (fourth), Brandon Harrison (fifth)
2008: Antwaun Molden (third), Xavier Adibi (fourth), Frank Okam (fifth), Dominique Barber (sixth)
2009: Brice McCain (sixth), Troy Nolan (seventh)
The only good defensive players he's taken are Cushing (first, 2009) and Glover Quin (fourth, 2009).
Thus, if Bob McNair were to blame someone, Kubiak should be third on the list behind himself and Smith. If he was going to make further changes on "Black Monday," it should have been to send the general manager packing and bring in someone who would truly know how to do the job.
Of course, he's not going to fire himself—he's the owner. And if you have a smart comment about that statement, put yourself in McNair's shoes.
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