Our fearless battlefighting leader is like a polarizing political issue in which each side has their predetermined POV and uses any event, statistic, or development to prove their already held belief. It's like that except with the whole world being in one party except for one person who stubbornly (or with passionate conviction, depending how you see it) sticks to his beliefs. That would be me.
I am undoubtedly Gary Kubiak's last defender, or often it feels like it. Part of my allegiance comes from the Broncos being my number 2 team growing up. I loved Elway and, therefore, Kubiak by sheer adjacence. When they brought him home, I was only mildly a Texans fan, having lived outside my hometown for the early years of the franchise. But, Kubiak's arrival coincided with my return to the H in a fortuitous confluence of fandom. I also loved the fact that he was a hometown guy, playing for a school I played in high school. It felt good. It felt even better when Kubiak led the Texans to beating the Vegas three out of his first four years, the other being a push (last year, of course, they were under, but Kubiak still has me well in the black). Not expecting playoffs in the early years, this made the last few games thrilling because they seemed to only pull it out by half a win every season. Don't tell me that Bears game in '08 wasn't like a playoff game.
I think Kubiak's a brilliant offensive mind, a coach the players absolutely play for, even battle for, who is more fired up behind closed doors than in the public. I actually admire the fact that he takes the bullets for the team and doesn't run them under the bus for the press. I admire him saying, "It's on me" and am baffled by how that's a bad thing. I think Kubiak is clearly building something and, while he has had missteps, while he has been stubborn or slow at times to adjust (Chris Brown, D Coordinator), I think it's been in the name of seeing his convictions through and that he has eventually adjusted.
Anyway, that's my history with Kubiak and why I am Kubiak's last defender. I wanted to put my cards on the table. Because of confirmation bias. Steph Stradley recently blogged about the confirmation biases surrounding the Texans, and it quickly became my new favorite term regarding the Texans. Confirmation Bias, a/k/a everyone using any strand no matter how flimsy, whether consciously or subconsciously, to cement their already held beliefs.
See, I've been surprised that Kubiak still gets ripped like he does for game management. I absolutely concur that Kubiak was challenge flag challenged early in his career. I admit he had poor game management skills. But, first of all, I believe every fan base unduly criticizes their head coach because it's so much easier to make the decisions from the proverbial arm chair and especially in hindsight. See Bill Belichick and Andy Reid and their fan bases criticizing individual plays and game management.
Second of all, and more importantly, I believe Kubiak has significantly improved in game management in the last two years. But public perception has been quite the opposite, seeing him as if anything getting worse. I don't know if I'm the one with confirmation bias making him better than he is or the naysayers' biases keep seeing him as worse than he is. Both biases keep us from seeing the truth.
So, here's the challenge:
Most of you in your opinions of Kubiak fall somewhere in the range of disgust to hatred, somewhere around the neighborhood of where Ed Hochuli views loose sleeves. Let's both put our confirmation biases aside. With the upcoming season full of optimism, let's give this thing a fresh look.
I have no interest in looking back because I think that would lead to vitriol, tail chasing, and beating our heads against the pavement like Chris Brown hitting the invisible wall also called the goal line (see, I can throw you naysayers a bone when it's due). Instead, I am going to track Kubiak's moves throughout the season and evaluate whether or not each one worked out.
This is where y'all come in. If I find the arguments persuasive enough that I am wrong with one of my conclusions whether it worked out, I'll change the scorecard. If it get's heated enough, maybe occasionally my fellow Coors Light drinking buddy will deem it prudent and we can have a fan poll. Also, if you see something you would call a game management decision that I missed, I'm all ears.
So, what I need from you now is y'alls thoughts on Kubiak's inadequacies as a game manager so that I can pay special attention to those situations during the season, though other things that come up will be fair game. These things have to be trackable. They cannot be game planning decisions (like whether or not he should go off script). They cannot be whether or not he watches end of game field goals or mention of Denny's menus, because, well, those are just ridiculous, ridiculous criticisms to begin with. Obviously, we won't be able to make some definitive judgment on Kubiak that we will all agree on, be we can damn sure get a better look at his game management skills moving forward, and maybe even challenge our own confirmation biases on both sides.
One last request: any idea where I can find statistics on challenge flags or any other game management decisions? Obviously, we're looking forward in regards to Kubes, but it'd be nice to be able to compare when possible with coaches around the league.
Hopefully, one day 15-20 years from now, when Gary Kubiak is the Texans' iconic, beloved head coach with multiple championships and Wade Phillips has retired the conquering local hero, we will look back at this experiment and laugh at how silly we were. For now, I shed my admitted biases for the sake of objective evaluation.
Let's be heated. Let's be passionate. But, most of all, let's be unbiased.