Gary Kubiak Officially Takes "That's on Me" to a Whole New Level
I've spoken privately and on the radio to literally dozens of Texans players during the Gary Kubiak Era, and whether it's been a role player, a star player, a veteran or an undrafted rookie, unequivocally their assessment of Gary Kubiak as a person has been the same:
They all love him.
When the admiration for a coach is that universal, it usually means one (or both) of two things -- that he is an exceedingly kind person and/or an exceedingly loyal person.
Kubiak is generally thought to be a pretty good guy, so the former is in check. But he is also the first one after a loss or after a mistake to shoulder the blame on behalf of his players, so he exudes the latter as well.
Hell, back in the throes of the Texans' dismal 6-10 season in 2010, you could have sold WWE-style steel-blue T-shirts with Kubiak's face on the front and "THAT'S ON ME" in big battle red letters on the back. The guy has practically made blame absorption an Olympic sport.
(By the way, in case you're wondering, that season, the picture on the "THAT'S ON ME" T-shirt would have been either "Screaming Gary" or "Confused Gary Staring At Replay Board" or just a picture of Gary's head with an arrow pointing at Frank Bush.)
And while it's quite admirable for Kubiak to throw the bull's-eye sweatshirt on and take the arrows, week in and out, from the fans and the media, it's not always necessary. Frankly, there comes a point where his pointing out a player and saying, "THAT guy needs to get better, and it's on HIM, and ONLY him, at this point" might feel therapeutic (for me, if nobody else, Gary).
For Kubiak to take the blame for certain execution, play-calling or preparation elements is normal and acceptable. However, on the heels of Antonio Smith's helmet swing on Miami's Richie Incognito, Kubiak may have finally taken his "THAT'S ON ME" culture to a new and ridiculous level.
When asked about the incident again on Wednesday, Kubiak had this to say:
"I'm disappointed in myself because I've got to make sure my players keep their composure on the football field, but they've got a job when they get out there to keep their composure regardless of circumstances. No excuses. We can't hurt the team. I tell our guys that all the time. If somebody's going to miss some time, that hurts the team."
Gary, it's okay!
Unlike the multiple fourth-quarter collapses in 2009 and 2010 and the late-season flameout in 2012, nobody is blaming you at all for Smith's temper tantrum, Kubes. Antonio Smith is a fiery player; it's part of what makes him a Pro Bowl-caliber defensive end and, unfortunately, part of what makes him a human personal-foul machine on the field (and, at times, an ATM machine for the league).
Reasonable people have accepted incidents like this as part of the Ninja persona, Gary. You know how sometimes we talk about players having a signature personality trait or flaw that comes to define them as players or persons, to the extent that you just have to say, "Hey, that's ______ being ______," and people know exactly what you're talking about?
Well, that incident with Incognito was "Antonio being Antonio."
Impulsive, fierce and more than a little reckless. Antonio being Antonio.
And this time the losers in all of it are his teammates, who will be without his services for the season opener in San Diego. (Also a big loser -- anybody close to Antonio who was expecting a decent gift during the week of September 9. $352,000 lost is a lot of money, don't care who you are.)
But Gary, short of running into the huddle and reminding Antonio Smith every single play to refrain from treating Richie Incognito's face like a game of Whac-A-Mole, there was very little you could do about this.
It's not your fault, Gary. It's not on you.
As always, it's on Incognito.
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 http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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