No Justice, No Kubiak

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Gary Kubiak is a nice guy. I'll stipulate to that. He works hard. I'll stipulate to that. Bob McNair likes him. I'll stipulate to that. But that Gary Kubiak deserves to keep his job because of that? That I won't stipulate to.

But according to the Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice, Kubiak should keep his job because he's a nice, hard-working guy liked by the owner who has a team that is only a couple of lucky plays away from being 11-1. And if that's not enough, Justice also reminds us stupid readers that, at this point in his head coaching career, Kubiak has the same record as Jeff Fisher, and that his record is only two games worse than the records of Jimmy Johnson and Bill Belichick after 60 games.

Of course, this being Richard Justice, he leaves a couple of things out of his coach-comparing analysis. At the 60-game mark, Jimmy Johnson was in his fourth year as head coach of the Cowboys. The Cowboys went 11-5 in Johnson's third season and made the playoffs. And at the 12-game mark in his fourth season, game number 60, the Cowboys were 10-2 and well on their way to winning the Super Bowl that season. And Belichick's Cleveland Brown team was 9-3 at game 60 of Belichick's coaching career, and would finish the season 11-5 and in the playoffs.

At this same point, Kubiak's Texans are 5-7, have lost four straight, and have essentially been eliminated from playoff contention.

Then there's Jeff Fisher who was working under some very strange conditions when he reached game 60 of his coaching career. Fisher took over the Houston Oilers in midseason, replacing a fired Jack Pardee. Fisher went 1-5 that season. The next year, 1995, the Oilers were 7-9, but the whole uproar over whether the Oilers were getting a new stadium or were departing for Nashville was already well underway. The team went 8-8 under difficult circumstances in 1996 and 8-8 in 1997 as the team practiced in Nashville and played games in Memphis.

The Tennessee Oilers were 3-3 when Fisher hit the 60-game mark in 1998. They would finish that season at 8-8, and the next year, they would go to the Super Bowl. So while it's rather nice of Justice to provide us idiots with those comparisons, they're not really apt comparisons.

After all, Kubiak's not dealing with the distraction of a franchise moving to another city. And he's yet to get his team to the playoffs, and they're nowhere near to sniffing a Super Bowl. And as Justice likes to remind us, the Texans have improved since Kubiak took over. Which they have.

But can anybody really argue that Kubiak himself has improved? Does anyone yet have any confidence in Kubiak's clock management? Does anyone yet have any confidence in his game preparation? Does anybody yet have any confidence in his ability to make in-game adjustments? Does anybody yet have any confidence that, when the game is on the line, Kubiak will make the right decisions?

The team has improved under Kubiak. The Texans have better, more talented personnel. They're no longer the abomination of a team that they were pre-Kubiak.

But Kubiak is still making the same mistakes he made in his first season. If he's not going to get any better at his job, then why should he be kept around to drag the team down?

The coaches of whom Justice would approve as coach won't come to the team, or so says Justice. So since the Texans can't hire Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, or Tony Dungy, they shouldn't bother since Kubiak is still better than the other potential replacements who are out there.

He dismisses Brian Billick as being worse than Kubiak, which is interesting when you consider that, in his second year as a head coach, Billick's Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl -- in fact, in his first 60 games as a head coach, Billick's record was 36-24. And while those Ravens teams weren't very exciting to watch, they didn't go about making mind-numbing mistakes every game.

To fire, or not to fire Gary Kubiak is Bob McNair's decision. The Texans are his team. And if he wants to keep Kubiak around next season because he works really, really hard and is a nice guy, then he can do that.

But as the Chron's Jerome Solomon wrote, Kubiak's quickly losing his team. But worse than losing the team, Kubiak's quickly losing the fans. And despite what Richard Justice thinks, the people paying for the overpriced tickets, parking, and concessions are ultimately the ones whose opinion will matter the most.

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