Okay, so the Texans beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday to finish their second straight season at 8-8. That's two seasons in a row of mediocrity. Can I have a YAY TEAM!
Over at the Chron, Richard Justice thinks the team is heading in the right direction and has turned the corner. He likes how Gary Kubiak gets the team mentally into the next game. Just like he got the team mentally into those games with Pittsburgh, Oakland, Baltimore, and Minnesota.
But it doesn't matter. The win saved Kubiak's job for the year. And that, in the end, is probably the worst thing to come out of this season: Gary Kubiak returning as head coach. Sure, the team finished 8-8 for the second straight year. Sure, the team came back from 0-4 start. Sure, the team had to deal with Ike. And sure the team had to deal with injury problems. And sure, as some might write, the Texans were a Sage Rosenfels breakdown and a coin flip loss to Jacksonville away from being 10-6 and possibly in the playoffs.
But the way I see it, instead of being 8-8, the Texans could just have easily been 4-12. There was the Jeff Fisher brain spasm that lost the Titans a game. The Texans had to kick the field goal with time running out to beat the Packers. They had to get lucky to beat the Dolphins and the Lions. So celebrate 8-8 all you want. I still see a mediocre team led by a mediocre coach.
I know the standard Kubiak excuses about how he's learning and growing. But I haven't seen it. The team still seems to be constantly unprepared come the start of each game. He still wastes timeouts because he can't make his mind on what plays to call. He finally won a replay challenge Sunday, but he often seems to be lost in another world when it comes to figuring out what replays to challenge. The team still has problems running a two minute offense.
Yes, I know the Texans had the NFL's third-best offense in terms of yards-per-game. But you know what? They're only 17th in points scored per game. The yards generated per game means crap when the yards don't translate to points. And the team was only 26th in the NFL in terms of red zone offense. Once again, yards don't matter when the team can't score.
Sure, there were some positives this season. Like Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson bailing out the ineptitude of Gary Kubiak. Owen Daniels had another nice season. Mario Williams was fantastic on the defensive line, and Dunta Robinson appeared to make a nice comeback.
But this isn't that good a team. It's a mediocre team, at best. And it's not going to get any better with Gary Kubiak running things.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS NFL NOTES:
Let's hear it for the Denver Broncos. They had a three-game lead for a playoff spot with three games left to play. They then lost three straight, including 52-21 to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night. That loss propelled the Chargers into the playoffs with an 8-8 record while preventing the Broncos from making the playoffs.
And let's hear it for the Detroit Lions who obtained perfection on Sunday. Of course, it wasn't the kind of perfection they wanted as the team finished the season 0-16, the first team in NFL history to finish the season 0-16, and the first team since the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 to finish a season without a win - the Bucs went 0-14.
The Lions have lost 23 of their last 24 games, and haven't won a game since December 23, 2007 for 17 straight losses. In those 17 losses, the Lions have been outscored 551-281. And in losing to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the Lions allowed further NFL history as the Packers were the first team in NFL history to have two running backs gain 100-plus yards in a game at the same time as they had two receivers gaining 100-plus receiving yards.
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Chad Pennington got his revenge on the New York Jets as he led the Miami Dolphins to the 24-17 win on Sunday. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Dolphins while knocking the Jets, the team that dumped Pennington for Brett Favre, out of the playoffs.
The Jets, who had been 8-3 at one point, finished the season at 9-7. As a result, head coach Eric Mangini was fired. Also joining Mangini on the head coach unemployment line were Rod Marinelli of the Lions and Romeo Crennel of the Cleveland Browns - Bill Cowher has already turned down the Browns.
And despite the Cowboys' blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Wade Phillips still has his job. For the moment. As does Jon Gruden, who is on the hot seat after the Tampa Bay Bucs went from 9-3 to 9-7 and out of the playoffs, Mike Shanahan of Denver, Tom Cable in Oakland, and Herm Edwards in Kansas City are also in danger of possibly losing their jobs.
-- John Royal