While there have certainly been hiccups along the way (e.g., an ongoing and staggering failure rate at throwing the red flag), I've been a relatively steadfast supporter of Gary Kubiak. He inherited a 2-14 team with holes almost everywhere and presided over an overhaul of 99% of the roster. Kubes transformed an offense that was totally impotent into a unit that's as dangerous as any in the league. The defense...well, the jury's still out, but his decision to cede control of that facet of the squad to Richard Smith and then Frank Bush looks as though it could eventually be his ultimate undoing. As I wrote back in January, Kubes' future in Houston is likely to be determined by Frank Bush's success this season. And while I still feel that way, that's not the purpose of this entry.
I want to talk about how Kubes handled the last four minutes and twenty-five seconds of Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. By way of context, I'm talking about what went down after Dunta Robinson's strip of Mike Sims-Walker and Zac Diles' recovery of the ball. From the play-by-play on NFL.com, with your Houston Texans taking over on the Jags' 49-yard line and trailing 31-24:
1-10-JAC 49 (4:25) 8-M.Schaub pass short middle to 83-K.Walter to JAX 31 for 18 yards (21-D.Cox).
1-10-JAC 31 (3:52) 20-S.Slaton left guard pushed ob at JAX 11 for 20 yards (27-R.Mathis).
1-10-JAC 11 (3:45) 8-M.Schaub pass incomplete short middle to 85-J.Dreessen.
2-10-JAC 11 (3:39) 8-M.Schaub pass short middle to 81-O.Daniels to JAX 1 for 10 yards (52-D.Smith).
1-1-JAC 1 (2:54) 8-M.Schaub pass short middle to 85-J.Dreessen for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN NULLIFIED by Penalty. PENALTY on HST-83-K.Walter, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, enforced at JAX 1 - No Play.
1-11-JAC 11 (2:48) 8-M.Schaub pass short middle to 89-D.Anderson to JAX 2 for 9 yards (26-B.Russell).
2-2-JAC 2 (2:10) 22-C.Brown right guard to JAX 1 for 1 yard (52-D.Smith). FUMBLES (52-D.Smith), RECOVERED by JAX-52-D.Smith at JAX 0. Touchback. Houston challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #2 at 02:00.)
At the outset of this analysis, a couple of things to bear in mind:
1. After their failed challenge on Dunta's strip, Jacksonville was down to a single timeout, plus the two-minute warning.
2. The Texans' defense had given up more than 390 yards of offense to the Jags and did not look capable of slowing a Pop Warner team comprised of blind four year old girls.
Knowing this, I ask you: Why in the world was Kubiak in such a hurry to score?
Think about it. If Schaub's TD pass to Dreessen isn't called back, the Jags get the ball back with nearly three minutes to play. Seeing as how his defense hadn't managed to stop Jacksonville all afternoon, what would make Kubes think they'd stop 'em now? Indeed, even factoring in K-Dub's pass interference call (which Kubes sure as heck wasn't banking on), the Texans were primed to score with more than two minutes remaining until Chris Brown fumbled. When your defense is as pathetic as Houston's is/was, how can you justify leaving that much time on the clock? Once you hit the 11-yard line, why aren't you running Slaton or Brown right into the back of your offensive line to burn time off the clock and/or to force Jacksonville to use its last timeout? Or at least to get the two-minute warning out of the way?
Wait a second, you say. Is this moron really advocating tying the game with as little time left as possible to go to overtime, where 60% of the time the team that wins the coin toss wins the game? Yes, I am. Give me the 50% chance of winning the coin toss and having Schaub & Co. controlling the Texans' destiny over the miniscule percentage that would accompany the Texans' defense actually stopping Jacksonville from scoring late in the fourth quarter, be it by FG or by TD, especially when the Jags would have had the opportunity to stop the clock twice. I'd rather play the percentages, thankyouverymuch.
Thus, we're left with the bitter reality that even if things had gone according to Kubes' plan, the Texans were still almost assured of suffering the loss, just in a different heartbreaking fashion. The most aggravating part of this is that I'm just a schmuck in the stands. How is it that I was thinking and yelling about this as it happened, yet Kubes seems oblivious? In his FOURTH YEAR as a head coach in the NFL? Doesn't it terrify and/or frustrate you, the fan, that something so elementary as burning clock seems to evade the head coach of our beloved squad?
Am I missing something? Making too much of a non-issue, seeing as how it was all made irrelevant by Brown's fumble? Sound off in the Comments below.