"That's the thing about defining moments -- when they define you as really, really good or really, really bad, you pretty much know them the minute they occur; when the jury is still out on whether you're good or bad, ultimately you have to go back and find the defining moment." -- Sean Pendergast, Game Time, November 30
We knew it the second it happened. The second that Gerald Alexander cradled the football in the fetal position at the 2-yard line. "There it is...," I said to John Harris, my good friend and co-host on 1560 The Game.
"Defining moment?" he asked.
"Yep," I muttered.
In perhaps the most questionable tactical decision we've seen in the last month not involving either Bill Belichick, Tiger Woods or voicemail messages, Gary Kubiak and Kyle Shanahan shattered the Defining Moment Assess-o-meter. Compared to the other candidates for Defining Moment of the Kubiak Era, this one wasn't even close. Consider the following aspects of Chris Brown's interception near the goal line yesterday:
It was in the red zone. Between the 20's this season, the Texans have been pretty proficient at moving the ball. Where they've managed to magically turn miraculous wins into weekend-ruining losses has been on red-zone offense. Jacksonville 1.0 (Brown's fumble in Week 3), Indianapolis 1.0 (Ryan Moats' fumble-after-replay fiasco), Indianapolis 2.0 (turning touchdowns into field goals with questionable play calls in the first half). These instances get handled differently and my Playoff Rooting Manifesto (all 3,000 words of it) still has validity. (Damn you, Kubiak.)
Chris Brown was prominently involved. I don't know what Kubiak's fascination is with Brown. He's not explosive, elusive, nor super physical. (Other than that, he's AWESOME!) I can count exactly zero of the other 31 teams in the league where Brown would play a vital role, and yet on the Texans he's not only getting a majority of the carries, but they are running specific plays down near the goal line where he's being asked to THROW the ball. He's barely an NFL running back and yet Kubiak thinks Brown should show off his pinpoint throwing accuracy.
It was an "If this were the real world, you'd get fired for that shit" moment. And that's probably the most damning thing. Look at Matt Schaub's eyes coming to the sidelines after that play. Listen to the players' quotes where they all either sheepishly say "Hey if it works, you're a genius" or express surprise it was called. This was a season-ending, hope-dashing, soul-crushing moment.
Kubiak completely undermined his quarterback. Speaking of Schaub, how do you feel if you're him today? You had your shoulder joint popped out of its socket and popped back in so you could get back on the field and try to bail your team out of a 17-0 hole. The one thing Texan fans have questioned about you is your toughness. Now is the time you can show them! And just when you're ready to seize momentum, the pass play coach calls for has Chris Brown throwing the ball. CHRIS F-ING BROWN. Wow.
By the way, this was less than two weeks after Kubiak decided that a 49-yard field goal attempt was less risky than Schaub getting one more play to get another 10 or 12 yards. You know, because Matt might get sacked or throw a pick. We all know how that ended.
The moral of the story -- if your name is pronounced "Chris Brown" (Kris Brown), apparently Gary Kubiak trusts you with his career moreso than his $48 million, hand-picked quarterback. (I can't help but think this all could've been avoided if he'd just hired Rihanna as his offensive coordinator, but I digress...)
Despite appearences to the contrary, I have not been one of those at the forefront of the "FIRE KUBIAK" lynch mob. I point out where he has been failing because it's relevant, especially when the team isn't winning, but I think sometimes people don't realize all the churn that goes into firing a coach, replacing him, and then enduring growing pains again -- FANS especially don't always see this because they are approaching everything from an emotional standpoint, which is the worst mode to be in when making franchise-changing decisions.
A new coach means he's going to want to put in his system, with his players, and for a team like the Texans who are tailored so specifically to what this regime wants to do, it would almost assuredly mean two steps back before taking a few forward. Can the Texans afford that?
But can they afford to keep Kubiak? The "fire Kubiak" crowd says NO, and for the first time this past Sunday, as Chris Brown watched his quarterback rating plummet to 0.0, I felt like Gary Kubiak could no longer be defended.
So here we go again -- 2009...just like 2008, 2007.... --- tease, tantalize, fail, then go full-bore after the consolation prize.
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Will it save Gary Kubiak? Do we want it to?
At the Miss USA pageant, the Miss Congeniality Award is given to the participant who all of the other participants seem to like the most, basically a pat on the head and ruffle of the hair to the nicest contestant. Inevitably, it's someone who had no chance of winning the thing, but gosh darnit, we really like them. Useless trivia -- Miss Vermont has won it the most times.
Congratulations, Texans fans...our team is Miss Vermont.
Listen to Sean Pendergast from 3-7 PM weekdays on 1560 The Game on the
"Sean & John Show", and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.