Assessing the Damage: Comparing Losing Streaks of the Gary Kubiak Era

More evidence this is not the guy.
More evidence this is not the guy.
Photo by Groovehouse

Say what you will about Gary Kubiak the head coach, but Gary Kubiak the person seems to be a genuinely nice man. All stories behind the scenes point to that, and every player of his I've ever spoken with, past and present, seem to have a sincere admiration, if not adoration, for the man they call Kubes.

So it pains me, Bob McNair, that you've driven me to this.

It pains me that you're sending a sincerely nice human being, albeit one that is having his worst season in coaching, back into the ring against the furious fists of my evidence that he needs to be replaced and the organization needs to move on.

And yes, this is Kubiak's worst season as a head football coach, and it's really not up for debate.

I've written and discussed the indecisiveness with which he manages the team, and the specific instances of tactical conservativeness that have practically turned fans' malaise into outright anger, but today I'm going to get a little more statistical on your ass.

Don Banks of recently wrote an article which I thought did a nice job of outlining another unfortunate signature of the Gary Kubiak Era -- losing streaks of three or more games at some point in nearly every season.

In all but one season of his seven-plus as head coach of the Texans, Gary Kubiak has had at least one losing streak of three or more games, and in some seasons he's had two. Think about the slim margin for error in the NFL when it comes to competing for playoff spots. Three (or more) losses in a row can be (and have been, for the Texans) a season killer.

(Ironically, the only season in which Kubiak avoided a three game losing streak was the 12-4 season in 2012, but one could argue that season includes the most disappointing stretch of football in team history up until this current five game losing streak, the tail end of last season where the Texans had home field advantage and bye all but locked up and blew it by going 1-3 down the stretch.)

Banks does a perfect job of summing up what these losing streaks mean in a larger context about Kubiak's ability to inspire, manage, and lead:

"It's not breaking news, of course, that Kubiak is no Shula, and you could substitute the name of almost any other NFL head coach in that blank and make the same point. But this latest slump in Houston is not a new phenomenon. It's a near-annual event. Like the Astros losing 100-plus games, or 11 months of humidity.

"Even in those years Kubiak had his improving team chasing Peyton Manning and the Colts and striving to climb the ladder in the AFC South, the Texans showed the tendency to swoon, often failing to meet expectations. They were a chic team-on-the-rise pick by many in 2008-10, but in reality they were just a tease, going 8-8, 9-7 and 6-10 over that span, never winning the games that mattered most. Usually it was an ill-timed losing streak that did in Houston's playoff chances."

  Amen, brother. Oh wait...there's more? Well, let's hear it, Donnie Boy:

"In every season except 2012's franchise-best 12-4 finish, the Texans have endured at least one losing streak of three-plus games under Kubiak, and even that season feels a little hollow since Houston started 11-1, before dropping three of its final four games to squander a potential No. 1 seed and the AFC's homefield advantage in the playoffs. (Come to think of it, nothing really good has transpired for the Texans since they debuted those snazzy letterman jackets on the road trip to New England last December, losing 42-14 that night. Houston is 4-8 overall since said high-schoolish fashion statement.)"

Man. PREACH, Brother really, continue to preach. Let's hear more:

"You can almost see the grasping search for answers in Kubiak's and Schaub's bad body language in recent weeks. During the postgame they look particularly lost, as if they don't know exactly what has gone wrong, how to correct it, and if they're going to be able to weather the storm until they do."

Yep, BINGO. Depressing, but BINGO.

Kubiak has nothing.

If you were in the hospital getting ready for emergency surgery and Kubiak walked in and introduced himself as your doctor, with the body language he has right now, you'd ask to see your family so you could say good bye to them. It's just a fact.

And one very frustrating thing about this recent skid -- you could actually argue that Kubiak's stumbled into a potential answer to spark the team in Case Keenum (completely stumbled into it, because you know if he were healthy, Matt Schaub would have started in Kansas City last weekend), and even that he's finding a way to botch by saying Matt Schaub is "obviously still the starter," so Schaub's feelings aren't hurt.

Because Matt Schaub's feelings are important.

Like I said, Gary Kubiak is a nice man. Unfortunately, the Texans are in need of an asshole right about now.

Back to the larger point about Gary Kubiak's inability to perform triage on his team when the season, this one and previous ones, is sinking like a stone in the lake -- you could make an argument that the most damning thing for Kubiak eight seasons in, is that not only does he have his team mired in its longest losing streak of his tenure, but this is the least competitive they've been during a losing streak during his coaching tenure.

Think about that -- Gary Kubiak's most talented Texans unit is the least competitive of his head coaching career.

Don't believe me? Well, I told you I was about to get all statistical up in this beeyotch, so here we go -- below you will find the summary of each of the nine Texans losing streaks of three games or more during the Gary Kubiak Era. Included are the following:

* Date of game, opponent, and final score with the betting line in parentheses (The betting line will be an important element of my argument, you'll see.) * The average betting spread of each game during the streak, so essentially Vegas' expectation on a final margin of loss * The average final margin of loss of each game during the streak, so essentially how much the Texans actually lost by * The average gap between the final margin in the game and the spread, so essentially in losing, how far off were the Texans from the expected margin of loss. In layman's terms, how badly did they fall short of expectations.

I've also included, for posterity's sake, a "streak signature" for each losing streak just to jog your memory a little bit and make the data below more than just a bunch of depressing numbers crashing into each other.

So let's do this thing here, shall we?   1. SEASON ONE, Weeks 1-3 9/10/06 vs Philadelphia, 24-10 (+6) 9/17/06 @ Indianapolis, 43-24 (+11.5) 9/24/06 vs Washington, 31-15 (+3.5) Avg Betting spread: +7.00 Avg Margin loss: 16.33 Avg Margin from spread: 9.33 Streak Signature: The first three games of the Kubiak Era and of his head coaching career, so no real depressing signature yet. Dude was picking up the pieces of the Dom Capers Era and had David Carr as his quarterback, so this one is kind of understandable. Little did we know at that time that Kubiak would be showing us the equivalent of his WWE finishing move -- The Multigame Losing Streak.

(By the way, if Kubiak were an actual WWE wrestler and the Multigame Losing Streak were an actual maneuver, it would consist of Kubiak continually missing multiple Hogan style leg drops and after each one getting up and saying "That's on me.")

2. SEASON TWO, Weeks 6-8 10/14/07 @ Jacksonville, 37-17 (+6.5) 10/21/07 vs Tennessee, 38-36 (-2) 10/28/07 @ San Diego, 35-10 (+10) Avg Spread: +4.83 Avg Margin loss: 15.67 Avg Margin from spread: 10.83 Streak Signature: Matt Schaub's first season and, appropriately, the biggest spark came from Sage Rosenfels, who rallied the Texans from a 32-7 third quarter deficit to take a 36-35 lead on Tennessee, before Rod Bironas eighth field goal of the game gave Tennessee the win.

3. SEASON THREE, Weeks 1-5 (Bye, Week 2) 9/7/08 @ Pittsburgh, 38-17 (+6.5) 9/21/08 @ Tennessee, 31-12 (+4.5) 9/28/08 @ Jacksonville, 30-27 (+6.5) 10/5/08 vs Indianapolis, 31-27 (+3) Avg Spread: +5.13 Avg Margin loss: 11.75 Avg Margin from spread: 6.63 Streak Signature: Two things -- first, this was the season where Hurricane Ike hit before the second game of the year (and what would have been the first home game), so the Texans bye week got moved to Week Two, which meant they basically had no bye week. And it also meant their first three games were on the road. Second, as if that wasn't bad enough, the first home game was the Rosencopter game against the Colts, which dropped the Texans to 0-4 and functionally ended the season by early October. This streak easily included the most carnage, real life and football, of any of the streaks.

4. SEASON THREE, Weeks 9-11 11/2/08 @ Minnesota, 28-21 (+6.5) 11/9/08 vs Baltimore, 41-13 (-2.5) 11/16/08 @ Indianapolis, 33-27 (+9) Avg Spread: +4.33 Avg Margin loss: 13.67 Avg Margin from spread: 9.33 Streak Signature: Another Matt Schaub injury, this time in the Minnesota game, which led to more Sage Rosenfels, which meant more Sage Rosenfels turnovers, including a horrifying four interception game against the Ravens.

5. SEASON FOUR, Weeks 9-13 (Bye, Week 10) 11/8/09 @ Indianapolis, 20-17 (+7.5) 11/23/09 vs Tennessee, 20-17 (-4) 11/28/09 vs Indianapolis, 35-27 (+3) 12/6/09 @ Jacksonville, 23-18 (-1) Avg Spread: +1.38 Avg Margin loss: 4.75 Avg Margin from spread: 3.38 Streak Signature: Two Kris Brown end of game misses in back to back games took a 5-3 start and made it a 5-5 buzzkill, which carried over the next two games. Four straight games, all in the division, all division losses. I'm not sure if that had ever been done before. This streak also is notable because it includes the Chris Brown (the other one, the running back) throwing a pick on a halfback option play against the Jags, which would be the last trick play Gary Kubiak would ever run on offense.

6. SEASON FIVE, Weeks 8-11 11/1/10 @Indianapolis, 30-17 (+5.5) 11/7/10 vs San Diego, 29-23 (+3) 11/14/10 @ Jacksonville, 31-24 (+1) 11/21/10 @ New York Jets, 30-27 (+6.5) Avg Spread: +4.00 Avg Margin loss: 7.25 Avg Margin from spread: 3.25 Streak Signature: This was the season that the Texans somehow got off to a 4-2 start despite playing the worst defense in modern history. It came back to roost in a big way during this streak, which included a Schaub Pick 6 against Indy (Schaub's WWE finisher, by the way), the Glover Quin Hail Mary in Jacksonville, and a Mark Snachez last minute comeback in New York. Terrible. Competitive, but terrible.

7. SEASON FIVE, Weeks 13-16 12/2/10 @ Philadelphia, 34-24 (+8.5) 12/13/10 vs Baltimore, 34-28 (+3) 12/19/10 @ Tennessee, 31-17 (+2) 12/26/10 @ Denver, 24-23 (-2) Avg Spread: +2.88 Avg Margin loss: 7.75 Avg Margin from spread: 4.88 Streak Signature: The overtime game against the Ravens on Monday night was bad, but I would say the Tennessee game during this streak was the only time I can say that a Gary Kubiak coached team quit on their head coach.

8. SEASON SIX, WEEKS 15-17 12/18/11 vs Carolina, 28-13 (-4.5) 12/22/11 @ Indianapolis, 19-16 (-7) 1/1/12 vs Tennessee, 23-22 (+1) Avg Spread: -3.5 Avg Margin loss: 6.33 Avg Margin from spread: 9.83 Streak Signature: Still blinded by the euphoria of the first division title in team history clinched on December 11, and with expectations totally tempered by third string rookie T.J. Yates' starting at quarterback, nobody really cared about this losing streak. In fact, the third loss included three quarters of Jake Delhomme. This one barely counts on Kubiak' record. In fact, I think it gets expunged from his permanent record, like a speeding ticket, sometime later this season.

9. SEASON EIGHT, WEEKS 3-7 9/22/13 @ Baltimore, 30-9 (+1) 9/29/13 vs Seattle, 23-20 (+1) 10/6/13 @ San Francisco, 34-3 (+4) 10/13/13 vs St. Louis, 38-13 (-9.5) 10/20/13 @ Kansas City, 17-16 (+7) Avg Spread: +0.70 Avg Margin loss: 16.20 Avg Margin from spread: 15.50 Streak Signature: Pick sixes galore, at least one season ending injury each of the last three weeks, but most of all, as you can see, this is not only the longest losing streak of Kubiak's tenure, but the team is falling short of Vegas expectations by over two touchdowns a game, by far the worst margin of the Kubiak Era and easily the worst since his first two seasons on the job.

STREAKS SUMMARY Avg Spread: +2.97 Avg Margin loss: 11.08 Avg Margin from spread: 8.11 Overall Record ATS in Above Games: 5-27-1

In closing, I'll let Don Banks do the heavy lifting one more time:

But when the sky starts falling, that's exactly when a coach is expected to find solutions and execute some season-saving maneuvers that help his team find its way out of its funk. The best ones figure out how to get the losing streak stopped, and start piecing the puzzle back together as quickly as possible.

Indeed, that is what the best ones do. The best head coaches find a way to stop the bleeding. Gary Kubiak isn't one of those coaches. We have a word for the kind of coach that Kubiak is:


Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at

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