Blame Gary Kubiak All You Want, But Rick Smith Shares the Responsibility for the Texans' Failure
So Gary Kubiak's been fired and it looks like Wade Phillips is coaching himself out of a job. But truth of the matter is that Bob McNair could con Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy into taking this job and that still wouldn't be enough.
The problems with this team go far deeper than Gary Kubiak and his inability to adjust to what other teams are doing. The team has cap issues to deal with, aging superstars, an unsettled QB situation and two key players in Arian Foster and Brian Cushing who cannot stay healthy.
Then there's GM Rick Smith, who, somehow, despite everything, still has a job. He's managed to convince McNair that he's blameless for everything that's happened with the team, and that absent the interference of Kubiak, he will fix everything.
Smith reminds me of Dayton Moore, the general manager of the Kanas City Royals. The Royals were a down-and-out formerly great baseball franchise when Moore was hired in 2006. Moore was a highly sought after assistant GM for the Atlanta Braves, who were then, and remain, one of the envies of MLB. And he got a lot of the credit for Atlanta's deep farm system. Unfortunately for Royals fans, Moore's tenure with KC has been one of losing seasons, head-scratchingingly inexplicable trades, stupid free agent contracts and bumbling managers -- kind of the MLB equivalent of the Texans.
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But despite everything, Moore keeps his job. No matter that the Royals have yet to actually contend for anything despite huge contracts and bad trade after bad trade. He's somehow earned the trust of ownership despite the Royals' continued failures, and he continues to destroy a once great franchise.
The Texans have never been a great franchise, but the parallel remains valid. Smith has gained the trust of McNair, and is seemingly without blame. He claims to have just done Kubiak's bidding, to have gotten the players Kubiak wanted. But that doesn't explain all of the bad contracts. It doesn't explain letting Glover Quin depart to be replaced by Ed Reed, especially since it now appears the Texans coaching staff didn't want Reed. Does anybody trust Smith to run a draft? To pick a coach? Does anybody think a proven coach like Gruden or Dungy will want a job that has the likes of Smith around as the boss, especially now that it appears Smith was one of those stabbing Kubiak in the back, which is quite the payback seeing as how Kubiak supposedly got Smith the job.
The front line's a mess. There's no QB, the tight ends might be gone after the year, Andre Johnson's another year older and Arian Foster's coming off another injury. Does anybody besides Bob McNair think that Smith is the person to fix this?
The Texans aren't the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were an underperforming franchise stocked with Pro Bowlers and All-Pros who just needed the right coach. Aside from Andre Johnson, J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing (when healthy), the Texans are just average. Andy Reid could leave KC for Houston and not come close to replicating the success the Chiefs are having this season.
Maybe I'm reading this all wrong. Maybe next season's Texans, under the guidance of a new head coach, are this season's Chiefs. Maybe Rick Smith will be proven a genius when he's working with a new coach who's not an offensive genius or a quarterback guru. Maybe Bob McNair got it right and Smith's greatness has been hidden by the ineptitude of Gary Kubiak.
But does anybody believe this? Anybody besides Bob McNair? And does it really matter if anybody else really believes it because the only person who needs to believe it is McNair, and he appears to be buying into the crap that Smith's shoveling, which means the ultimate problem may not be Rick Smith, but McNair. It's McNair who's screwed up his big hires. Who chose Charley Casserly and Dom Capers? It's McNair who picked Gary Kubiak and then Rick Smith. It's McNair who made the hiring of Capers's replacement contingent on fixing David Carr.
Bob McNair means well. But meaning well isn't enough. Not when meaning well consistently produces a mediocre football team before a loyal fan base that is just waiting to embrace a winner, and that's forever left disappointed.
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