12:47 AM EST, December 7, 2013
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - INSIDE SLANT
Now that Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has fired coach Gary Kubiak a day after the team suffered its 11th consecutive defeat Thursday, everyone wants to know who Kubiak's replacement will be.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been named interim coach for the final three games this season against Indianapolis, Denver and Tennessee.
McNair has employed only two coaches in the franchise's 12 years. Kubiak replaced Dom Capers after the Texans finished 2-14 in 2005.
"We would like someone who has had head coaching experience but has also had NFL experience," McNair said. "It's a combination of those two things would be the ideal situation, and there are people who meet those conditions.
"We're looking for a coach that's bright, ethical, whose culture fits in with the culture of our organization, innovative, flexible, able to make adjustments, works with great energy and enthusiasm and is very positive in his approach."
McNair will hire the new coach with significant input from general manager Rick Smith and Cal McNair, the owner's son who is the Texans' vice chairman.
McNair said Phillips, who built an 82-61 record as head coach at Denver, Buffalo and Dallas, will be among the candidates interviewed.
Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and Stanford coach David Shaw should expect to receive calls from the Texans.
Among the other possible candidates could be Jon Gruden, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and Penn State coach Bill O'Brien.
"We decided that one of the advantages of going ahead and taking action now rather than waiting is it allows us to start the process of finding a new head coach," McNair said. "Those prospects not under contract in the NFL are people that we can visit with.
"Some of the people we'll visit with are going to be in coaching positions now. We'll have to wait until after the (regular) season is over. We'll certainly abide by those rules."
McNair decided to make a move after Thursday's 27-20 primetime loss at Jacksonville. It was the Texans' second loss to the Jaguars in 11 days, and Houston dropped to 2-11 after setting team records with 14 penalties for 177 yards.
"The last straw was losing," McNair said. "We've got a lot better talent than Jacksonville, and to have them beat us twice, that's to their credit. They played harder. They played smarter. That's not acceptable to us."
Kubiak, 52, was under contract through 2014. He led the Texans to back-to-back AFC South titles and a playoff victory in each of the last two seasons.
"It was difficult for me because I think so much of Gary," McNair said. "It's something that I didn't want to do, but you do what's best for the organization. We're thankful for the job that he's done for us."
Thursday's defeat to the Jaguars tied the 1972 and 1994 Oilers for the longest losing streak in Houston's pro football history.
"To have this string of losses is just totally unacceptable, and it's not what this organization is about," McNair said. "We're about winning and accountability."
Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke at halftime of the Indianapolis game last month. He missed the Arizona game and coached the next two from the coaches booth in the press box.
Kubiak still hasn't fully recovered from the stroke.
"Even though we normally would wait until the end of the year to evaluate our coaching staff and our players, under these extreme circumstances, we decided it was in the best interest of the organization to go ahead and start that evaluation process now," McNair said.
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - NOTES, QUOTES
--Owner Bob McNair said Case Keenum will remain as the starting quarterback over the last three games.
Former coach Gary Kubiak said after Thursday's loss to Jacksonville that he might return Matt Schaub as the starter. McNair put that possibility to rest on Friday.
"We have a young quarterback, and we need to find out whether Case is capable of being a starter or whether he's capable of being a backup," McNair said. "The way you find that out is by playing him.
"We have waited to see how that was developing and to see how much progress we could make in the development of him as a player. We're at the point now where we needed to go ahead and make some changes because losing like this is just unacceptable and something that we just can't tolerate."
--Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano, an original Texans coach in 2002, was fired along with Gary Kubiak.
Marciano, who joined the organization in its first season of 2002, was in charge of special teams that performed poorly for the second season in a row.
Bob Ligashesky, the assistant special teams coach under Marciano this season, has been promoted.
--When former general manager Charley Casserly resigned after the 2006 draft, Gary Kubiak recommended his former Denver buddy, Rick Smith, to replace him. Smith was hired in June to take over Casserly's duties.
"We've been together for almost 18 years," Smith said about his relationship with Kubiak. "I've got a tremendous amount of respect for him.
"It was a difficult decision, but what's taking place is not acceptable for our organization. When you have a setback of this magnitude, it requires extensive introspection, and we've got three more weeks to continue the evaluation process.
"We've got to right the ship, and that's what this decision, unfortunately, is about. You've got to really be honest and look at what you're doing and why you're doing it. Clearly, right now, we have not been productive over the last 11 weeks, and we have to figure out why."
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Andre Johnson had 13 catches for 154 yards. He is the first receiver in NFL history to have at least 10 catches and 100 yards in 20 career games. He tied Jerry Rice with 10 games with at least 10 catches and 150 yards.
--QB Matt Schaub came off the bench late in the third quarter to complete 17 of 29 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. He threw an interception late in the game when the offense was trying to tie the score.
--OLB Brooks Reed, who had six sacks as a rookie in 2011, recorded his second sack of 2013 against Jacksonville.
--RB Ben Tate carried 14 times for 53 yards after his 106-yard performance against New England. In two losses to the Jaguars, Tate had 21 carries and 54 yards.
REPORT CARD VS. JAGUARS
PASSING OFFENSE: C - Case Keenum threw for 159 yards and a touchdown, but he was benched in favor of Matt Schaub, who finished with 198 yards and a touchdown. Keenum couldn't develop any consistency against a Jaguars defense that confused him. Schaub gave the offense a spark and orchestrated two scoring drives, but he was intercepted late in the game when they had a chance to pull out a victory. Andre Johnson was magnificent with 13 catches for 154 yards. He had his 50th career 100-yard game. Keshawn Martin and Garrett Graham caught touchdown passes.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- It was an anemic performance by the backs and offensive linemen, primarily because the coaches abandoned the run in the second half when they were in comeback mode. The Texans' running game was ineffective in two losses to Jacksonville in 11 days.
PASS DEFENSE: F -- The defensive backs had their worst game. Not only did they allow three touchdown passes, including one by a wide receiver on a trick play, but they committed several senseless penalties.
RUSH DEFENSE: F - The defense, especially the front seven, couldn't contain Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars struggled to run productively and consistently against just about every team but the Texans. They beat them inside and outside. They steamrolled them between the tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F - Penalties were a problem against the Jaguars as they had been most of the season. Coverage was poor, too. It cost special teams coordinator Joe Marciano his job. He was fired along with Gary Kubiak.
COACHING: F - The Texans were swept by the Jaguars. They lost their 11th consecutive game. Gary Kubiak paid with his job. The blame for this most recent debacle could be distributed evenly among the coaches, offense, defense and special teams.
Copyright © 2013, Reuters