Houston Texans: Kubiak's Seat Is Hot but the AFC South Is Theirs to Lose

Sam McIntoshCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2011

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans looks on during warm ups before playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Referring to the lack of job security surrounding many NFL coaches, ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd said this week the Houston Texans have the "hottest seat in the NFL." He went on to emphasize his point by repeating that statement multiple times with typical Cowherd enthusiasm.

It doesn't take a national sports analyst to recognize Kubiak's incendiary state, though.

In fact, most Texans fans expected Kubiak to lose his job after last year's more than disappointing 6-10 season. The proverbial hot seat which Cowherd mentions has been rapidly warming in recent years and seemed to finally reach its boiling point in 2010. With what surely has to be his final shot, Kubiak has to lead the Texans to the postseason. 

Fortunately for Kubiak, the timing couldn't be any better. For the first time ever, the AFC South is arguably the Texans to lose. With transitions happening within, the division has taken a few steps back from recent years when it was a clear powerhouse.

Before we go on, let's break down what the division looks like so far (obviously without the knowledge of free agency).


Tennessee Titans

 The Titans have been a real pest in recent years. Each offseason seems to mark their inevitable regression, but they come out each and every season with a fierce attitude and great coaching.

Well, last year was different. Critics were finally correct, and the Titans had a poor season that was highlighted by a foolish, meaningless signing of a selfish Randy Moss, Jeff Fisher's unusually disinterested attitude and of course, Cortland Finnegan being on the bad end of a beating. This year they have a new coach, likely a new quarterback (maybe Collins will remain the starter, but Vince Young seems to be headed out the door as soon as the NFL is open for business) and an inconsistent defense. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

 If the Titans are a pest, the Jaguars are a menace. They constantly overachieve and have beat the Texans in three of the past four meetings, including the conversion of an incredibly hopeful hail-mary last season. The Jaguars had their best season in years in 2010, and much of it was thanks to David Garrard's vast improvements under center. But after making a trade to move up in this year's draft to select quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the Jags have created a controversy. Like the Titans, there is no clear-cut guarantee they know who will be leading the offense come September.

HOUSTON - JANUARY 02:  Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans rushes for major yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images


Indianapolis Colts  

The Colts should never be underestimated. With Peyton Manning on their side, anything is possible. But this year seems to be the year they could finally take a step back. After showing signs of fatigue in 2010, Manning is coming off his second neck surgery. The Colts have also done nothing to improve their running attack or run defense. With the exception of Manning, the Colts are nothing to fear. Pending free agency, it looks like 2011 could finally be the year Manning and the Colts are the underdogs.

This division can, and likely will, be topped by a 10-game winner. 

Kubiak and the Texans are more than aware of this, but the fans have heard it before. They recognize the Texans' unique ability to disappoint and know the NFL can be a fallacy.

Kubiak doesn't exactly boast confidence, and his popularity is hanging by a thread. At this point, it is nearly impossible to have an optimistic attitude.

Similar to any situation, though, there are ups and downs.

Many factors spark optimism, such as Wade Phillips taking over as defensive coordinator, Andre Johnson's return to full health and Mario Williams unusually excited attitude. It has also become clear the Texans are interested in making moves in free agency to bolster a less than average secondary.

Arian Foster, 2010 NFL rushing champ, comes back with more experience. Matt Schaub has a lot to prove, while the defense has to redeem itself. And a historically poor secondary can only improve. Kareem Jackson can't be worse, he just can't.   

So it's not all bad. If fans fish long enough, they just may find reason to smile. With a clearly weakening division, the Texans are primed for a promising post-lockout season.  

But as I say, we've heard it all before.