"I'll just say this -- for the past few weeks, the finger has been pointed in one direction a lot. But we sprung leaks all over the place today as a football team. We got our butt kicked as a football team." -- Gary Kubiak, post game after the Rams 38-13 decimation on Sunday
Gary Kubiak is right in one respect.
His quarterback (and at this point, I feel compelled to italicize his, for obvious reasons) has been a lighting rod for vitriol the last few weeks, from derision via hamburger ("Pick 6 Burger, anyone?") to derision in his driveway to, on Sunday afternoon, derision while injured. (And yes, that's the last mention in this space of fan reaction to Matt Schaub's getting hurt on Sunday.)
Each time, Kubiak has been quick to include the rest of the team in the blame game, almost going out of his way to remind all of us that there are 53 men on this here roster, even if most of them not named "Matt Schaub" were, y'know, doing their jobs correctly.
Unlike his quarterback.
So on Sunday, after the Texans had somehow found a way to lose a game in which they had double the yardage of their opponent, and not just lose but lose royally (38-13, your final), Kubiak unsolicitedly reminded everyone within the first eight seconds of his post game press conference that it was the team that screwed up on Sunday, not just Matt.
Thanks for the reminder, Gary.
Like a mother bear protecting her cub. Attached at the hip, falling into the abyss, down go the head coach and the quarterback.
You will read many tweets, blog posts, and columns over the next 24 hours (and probably already have), begging Bob McNair to fire Gary Kubiak, and as we roll along here together for the next six or seven minutes, my stance on that issue will become readily apparent.
There's not much left that needs to be said.
We all see the games every week. We see the aversion to change, the conservatism. We watch the definition of insanity play out right before our very eyes, we just never thought we'd have to pay $100 a ticket to see it up close.
Sometimes, you do things the same way over and over, and if you have a good process, the repetition pays off with success. Sometimes, you do things the same way over and over, and if you have a flawed process, it needs either some tweaks or some more repetition to yield success.
And sometimes, you do things the same way over and over for so long, and if you have a bad process, it's like your opponent is standing in your huddle, listening to your headsets, sitting in your meeting rooms.
The Texans have a bad process right now. Their opponents know exactly what's coming, the combination of a quarterback who has about three clubs in his golf bag of skills and a bad process being overseen and executed by a man who only knows one process. A man who has to have change practically forced upon him, like a young child being fed castor oil.
In every conceivable way, Texan fans, this is the bad time.
Less than a year ago, the Texans were 11-1 and heading to New England for a Monday night showdown with the Patriots. If you're looking for the week the Texans quickly and inexplicably turned into the confused mess that they are right now, there it was. And, by the way, if you want to partially blame those ridiculous letterman jackets that they wore on the road trip up there, let the record reflect, I am okay with that.
They were stupid, and somewhat symbolic of the lack of self awareness that this team had as a potential title contender. So let's start our statistical journey there, in New England, in December.
In letterman jackets.
It's the Fall of Kubiak, also known as Houston Texans, A.L.J. (After Letterman Jackets).
THE LAST 12 GAMES
"We're really trying just to stay focused on our football, trying to improve. The key once you get there is how you're playing. It doesn't matter who you play or where you play, you have to be playing good football when you get to the playoffs. I've learned that through my years. We're really just trying to stay focused on us, trying to get some guys back healthy. We know we'll have to play extremely well this weekend. We see every week as a big game and obviously in December, they're all huge." -- Gary Kubiak, 12/6/2012
Those were good times, weren't they? Super Bowl favorite, high flying offense, hard hitting defense. However, we all know what came next.
Foxborough, Monday night. A 21-0 halftime deficit, a 28-0 third quarter deficit, a 42-14 beatdown, and the beginning of a 12 game stretch that if it were spread over the same calendar year would have us all scouring 2014 NFL mock drafts ten hours a day (as if some of
us you aren't already doing that now).
Here are those twelve games:
12/10/2012 @ New England, L 42-14 12/16/2012 Indianapolis, W 29-17 12/23/2012 Minnesota, L 23-6 12/30/2012 @Indianapolis, L 28-16 1/5/2013 Cincinnati, W 19-13 1/13/2013 @ New England, L 41-28 9/9/2013 @ San Diego, W 31-28 9/15/2013 Tennessee, W 30-24 (OT) 9/22/2013 @ Baltimore, L 30-9 9/29/2013 Seattle, L 23-20 (OT) 10/6/2013 @ San Francisco, L 34-3 10/13/2013 St. Louis, L 38-13
Overall record: 4-8 Turnover margin: Texans 22, Opponents 7 Matt Schaub: 11 TD, 14 INT, 80.48 passer rating
THE 8 LOSSES
The nice thing about the NFL, as opposed to college football, is that the "beauty contest" aspect (i.e. point differential) has no bearing on the ultimate outcome of the season. Just win, baby. However, for purposes of scrutinizing things like motivation, coaching adjustments, the process of a team, point differential is critical.
So when it comes to the Texans, while the 4-8 record over the last twelve games is disturbing, the manner in which they've lost those eight games is even more disturbing. They've lost these eight games by a mind blowing 18.8 per game average margin. And the turnovers...my God, THE TURNOVERS! Take a look:
(Texans turnover margin in parentheses) 12/10/2012 @ New England, L 42-14 (even) 12/23/2012 Minnesota, L 23-6 (-2) 12/30/2012 @Indianapolis, L 28-16 (-1) 1/13/2013 @ New England, L 41-28 (-1) 9/22/2013 @ Baltimore, L 30-9 (-1) 9/29/2013 Seattle, L 23-20 (OT) (-1) 10/6/2013 @ San Francisco, L 34-3 (-4) 10/13/2013 St. Louis, L 38-13 (-4)
Overall point differential: 259-109 (18.8 points per game) Turnover margin: Texans 18, Opponents 4 Sacks: Texans 12, Opponents 24 Penalties: Texans 62/560, Opponents 50/428 Matt Schaub: 4 TD, 10 INT (5 pick sixes), 73.05 passer rating
THE 4 STRAIGHT LOSSES IN 2013
Bringing it into the present, while the current skid feels like a carryover from last season, the only portion that matters for 2013 purposes is the last six games, the last four of which have all been losses, some soul crushing (Seattle), some just plain crushing (the other three). But the narrative is the same -- turnovers, penalties, and a quarterback who looks like a deer in the headlights:
(Texans turnover margin in parentheses) 9/22/2013 @ Baltimore, L 30-9 (-1) 9/29/2013 Seattle, L 23-20 (OT) (-1) 10/6/2013 @ San Francisco, L 34-3 (-4) 10/13/2013 St. Louis, L 38-13 (-4)
Overall point differential: 125-45 (20.0 points per game) Turnover margin: Texans 12, Opponents 2 Sacks: Texans 2, Opponents 8 Penalties: Texans 34/346, Opponents 31/240 Matt Schaub: 2 TD, 6 INT (4 pick sixes), 69.58 passer rating
THE SECOND HALVES IN THESE 4 LOSSES
They say that a good coach is able to make halftime adjustments to give his team their best chance to win. However, when you have a coach who only has one very predictable way of conducting his business, adjustments are either unnoticeable or nonexistent. The Texans in the second half of the last four games have come out of the locker room and emerged a much worse team than the one that went in. And make no mistake, the team that was going into the locker room (other than the Seattle game) was not a good team to begin with. Here are the post-halftime scores of the last four Texan games:
9/22/2013 @ Baltimore, 0-13 9/29/2013 Seattle, 0-20 10/6/2013 @ San Francisco, 3-13 10/13/2013 St. Louis, 7-21
Overall point differential: 67-10 (14.3 points per half)
If it weren't for the garbage touchdown at the end of Sunday's game, they'd have no touchdowns in the second half of games since the Titans game in Week 2. NONE. Hell, they'd have no touchdowns at all since the first half of the Seattle game.
Which brings me to this...
LIFE SINCE THE RICHARD SHERMAN PICK-SIX
Another sign of an effective coach is one who can find a way to pull his team out of a tailspin, through ingenuity, creativity, or something other than the same old crap which sent them into the ditch in the first place. When a coach has no answers for adversity, all is lost. Since the cataclysmic pick-6 thrown by Schaub to Richard Sherman of the Seahawks, the Texans and Schaub himself have been the picture of ineptitude. A team and a quarterback so badly rattled, if they were a golfer, their putts would be rolling off the green into the sand trap.
Since the Richard Sherman interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Seahawks game, here are the scoring margins and other relevant statistics:
9/29/2013 Seattle, 0-3 10/6/2013 @ San Francisco, 3-34 10/13/2013 St. Louis, 13-38
Overall point differential: 75-16 (28.0 points per game last two games) Turnover margin: Texans 0, Opponents 8 Matt Schaub: 0 TD, 3 INT (1 pick six), 62.59 passer rating
Asked after the game on Sunday how a team with this much talent (nine Pro Bowlers last season, and that doesn't include Brian Cushing) could have breakdowns across the board -- offense, defense, and special teams, Kubiak muttered:
"It's my job to figure that out. My job to figure it out."
That time is over, Gary. By now, if you could have, you would have.
By every measure, this team has gone backwards. Backwards since last season, backwards since last month, backwards since last week. A coach who is purported to be some sort of offensive guru has a quarterback whose passer rating continues to slide into a ditch, and frankly at this point this "pick six conundrum" makes it seem like plays are being called that are specifically designed to give the other team six points. (Proving it's not just a Schaub thing, and perhaps feeling a little left out,, T.J. Yates got in on that "pick six" party on Sunday.)
In the real world, Gary, someone in your position would have fired somebody a long time ago. A player, a coach (Seriously, how does Joe Marciano still have his job?). And in the real world (or certainly at USC), Bob McNair would have been waiting for you after you got off the plane from San Francisco to have a very, um, frank conversation.
Me? I've seen all I need to see. Enough is enough, Bob. It's time for a change. Gary isn't pulling this ox out of the ditch. If anything, he's wedging it further down. The ox is screaming to make him stop, Bob.
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If Gary Kubiak keeps riding this quarterback and his process into the ground, that's on him.
If you, Bob, keep riding Gary Kubiak into the ground, that's on you.
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