Whelp, the day finally arrived – the Houston Texans fired Gary Kubiak.
This move was inevitable after Kubiak replaced Case Keenum for Matt Schaub at quarterback against Oakland a few weeks ago. It divided the locker room and showed Kubiak was not trying to help the franchise’s long-term future.
Getting swept by lowly Jacksonville, followed by saying Thursday night that Schaub would probably start the remaining three games of the season, was the final nail in his coffin.
I’m not sure there are any Texans fans that disagreed with the move to fire Kubiak. But when it comes to rebuilding this team that had such high expectations heading into the year, you get a lot of different opinions.
How would I handle the upcoming decisions if I was in charge of the organization? Probably not the same as most people, but I think my plan would work.
I like the move to fire Kubiak now, because it gives the Texans a head start on the coaching search. But who should they go after?
Immediately people are saying Lovie Smith should be the top target. As a Bears fan, I can tell you this is a bad move.
Lovie is essentially a defensive-minded Kubiak. He has no emotion on sideline and has no idea how to run a good offense. And his trademark Cover 2 defense is a horrible fit for Texans personnel.
So if not Lovie, who then? Here are my top 3 candidates:
1. Jon Gruden – The chances of this happening aren’t great, but I think it is possible. If Texans offer him a boatload of money, plus final say on all personnel decisions, I think he would do it. Having a chance to develop a quarterback from this year’s draft would appeal to Gruden as well. Houston has to at least try to get him.
2. Ken Whisenhunt – He took Arizona to the Super Bowl. I repeat, he took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl! I always felt the Arizona front office did him no favors after Kurt Warner retired, and I think he deserves a second chance.
3. Dave Toub – The Kansas City special teams coordinator wouldn’t be a sexy hire, but I think it would be a solid choice. Look no further than John Harbaugh with Baltimore to see hiring a special teams coach as head coach can work. Toub has had success everywhere he’s coached.
Other names to consider – Stanford HC David Shaw, Penn State HC Bill O’Brien, Indianapolis OC Pep Hamilton
My major dark horse…Rex Ryan.
Is that crazy? Probably. But Rex’s defenses are always among the league’s best and his players are still playing hard for him. He’s another guy that has been hurt by moves from front office.
As for defensive coordinator, I would be fine with Wade Phillips remaining as DC. His defense has underachieved this year, but his track record says that will improve next year.
I’m sorry UH fans, but Keenum is not a starting NFL quarterback. He’s a solid back-up and a good guy, but it looks like the game is moving too fast for him. Maybe that could improve, but thus far, he’s gotten worse, not better.
So that means Houston will almost certainly look to the draft for a potential franchise quarterback. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota staying in school hurts this year’s draft class, but there is still a strong group.
Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater seems to be the guy a lot of people are pegging as the top quarterback, but frankly, I don’t see it. He’s athletic and has good arm strength, but I only view him as a solid starter, not a star.
After Bridgewater, there are several interesting names, including Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron and UCLA’s Brett Hundley. The Texans shouldn’t consider Zach Mettenberger, Derek Carr (David’s little brother) or Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, unless they want to suck for years to come.
Hundley is a project, so if Houston wants a quick rebuild. So do you go Manziel or McCarron?
I know a bunch of people are down on McCarron because they view him as a game manager. However, having watched nearly all of his games the past three years, I can assure you that is far from the truth. He can make the big throws, has stellar accuracy and has great football intelligence. He may not have the upside of the Manziel or Hundley, but I honestly think McCarron can be an elite quarterback in the NFL.
That said, I’d still rank Manziel ahead of McCarron. In fact, I’d put him as my top QB is this draft.
The potential for an epic bust is there, but he could also be a better version of Russell Wilson. That’s working out pretty good for Seattle.
Schaub and Owen Daniels are going to be cut as soon as the new league year starts. It wouldn’t surprise me to see cornerback Jonathan Joseph and/or safety Danieal Manning gone, too.
Antonio Smith is a free agent, and while a good player, are the Texans really prepared to give a 32-year-old defensive end a big-money deal at $10M a year? Doubtful.
Houston will certainly use the saved money to ink J.J. Watt to a long-term deal. A blank check will probably just be handed to him.
From there, other than potentially pursuing an offensive lineman for the right side of the line, I think Houston stays out of free agency. They will have a bunch of dead money, so the smart move would be to lie low and get out of a potential salary cap hell.
Currently the Texans are on pace for the No. 1 overall pick. That will probably end up being the case.
If I were running the Texans, I would do one of two things with the top pick – trade it or draft Jadeveon Clowney.
Imagine a defensive line with J.J. Watt and Clowney on it. Wow! You wouldn’t be able to double-team both of them, and that combo has the potential to become one of the best defensive lines in the history of the game.
Houston would still have the first pick in the second round. With that, they could target McCarron. I still think McCarron goes in the first round, though, so the Texans may have to trade up. But give Houston Clowney and McCarron, and they will be back in the playoffs next year.
If they trade the top pick, keep an eye on Cleveland. The Browns have two first round picks and need a quarterback as much or more than the Texans. If Cleveland falls in love with Bridgewater, then may the Texans could get those two first rounders, or at worst, a first and second.
By trading down, Houston could go with a combo of Manziel and a defensive player, or even offensive lineman Jake Matthews and Hundley or McCarron.
I still think Clowney/McCarron would be the best scenario for Houston, but it will certainly have a ton of options.
Houston has the ability to turn things around quickly. The talent is there – Watt, Brian Cushing, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins, Duane Brown – it just needs a good coaching staff.
The Texans have some big decisions to make, but they could find themselves as next year’s Kansas City Chiefs if they do it right. Make the wrong decisions, and they might become the Buffalo Bills instead.
• People are freaking out because the U.S. essentially drew a “Group of Death” for next summer’s World Cup. Personally, I don’t think it is all doom and gloom.
Yes, it’s a tough draw. But it is the World Cup. If the U.S. wants to win, it has to play tough teams throughout.
If the U.S. beats Ghana in its first match (REVENGE!) and Germany beats Portugal and Ghana in its first two games, then the U.S. can advance. In that scenario, a tie against Portugal or Germany (which may rest some of its starters with the group all but wrapped up) puts the U.S. into the next round.
Don’t count our boys out just yet!
• Robinson Cano gets $240M? Jacoby Ellsbury gets $153M? Good god, how much are Mike Trout and Bryce Harper going to get in the near future?!?
• I’m still depressed about Derrick Rose, but I think it does put the Bulls in position to trade a few guys (looking at you Luol Deng) to get the team in better position for the future.
• I’m even more depressed about Alabama. Come on Duke and Michigan State!!!!!
• I can’t decide which is the better headline:
• Finally, for your enjoyment, here is Morgan Freeman reading “What Does the Fox Say.”
Bear Down and Keep the Faith!