Sadly, the last installment of the regular season 2012 Kubiak Konundrum has arrived. And, lest you think the first division championship in franchise history has quieted the Kubiak hate, the last three losses have brought the anti-Kubiak crowd out in full force. Talk shows Wednesday morning (and I’m sure throughout the week) revolved more around the fact that people weren’t happy with Kubes than enjoying the playoff atmosphere to come. While the talk show crowd is in general a far less rational crowd than the loyal BRB readers (game day alcohol infused panic in the game day threads aside), I have no doubt through discussions with friends ranging from casual to, well, fanatical that Kubiak still has a lot to prove in the eyes of many, if not necessarily in the playoffs with a third string quarterback than for sure in the seasons to come.
That’s fine. Even fair. Coaches have to prove themselves every year, especially ones that don’t have a ring or two of goodwill in the bank and even ones that do (see Andy Reid for the former, Tom Coughlin for the latter).
But, the goal here was to analyze Kubiak’s in-game management this season without our preconceptions. To get rid of our in-game emotions as much as possible and evaluate with a level head.
The Titans finale might have tested that resolve more than any game this year. It shouldn’t have. The game was meaningless. Despite all the talk about needing momentum, you knew this was a different affair when you turned on the TV and saw Joseph, Arian, and OD were inactive. At that point, I sighed and resolved myself to a game of second and third stringers. Because, as much as I might have known Kubiak was making the right decision, I wanted to beat the damn BESFs and keep them out of the playoffs more than ever.
When Kubiak decided to go for two, then still decided to go for it after the penalty, I sighed and resigned myself to an all or nothing play. It was clear what was going on, even more clear when the facts later came out that Garrett Freaking Graham was playing OLB on the last defensive series. It still didn’t make me feel any better when the snap went comically over Delhomme’s head. And when I say comically, I'm talking about Wile E. Coyote getting crushed by a boulder once again.
But, when the haze of gameday dissipated, I found myself caring less about the outcome. With my analytical hat on, I can’t even justify judging any of Kubiak’s in-game decisions. Go at it in the comments whether we should have rested players or gone for momentum. Discuss whether or not going for two from seven yards out was taking the concept too far. But, the fact of the matter remains: the final score of the game was of the lowest priorities in the Texans’ minds. The success or failure of the Texans’ strategy won’t be known until after Saturday and, even then, in only a highly subjective bar room style debate. While I often view this as a cyber bar room, and we can argue it here til the end of time (or at least until next season), I’m certainly not putting any value judgment on specific decisions in the form of our scorecard.
So, for this game that ended the regular season, I want to take a year-end temperature of our confidence level in Gary Kubiak. Perhaps a game-by-game look back will be in store in the offseason, but for now, how did you think Kubiak did in game management decisions during the year? How confident are you in Kubiak to make the right calls against Cincinnati and hopefully beyond? Some numbers for perspective:
1=terrible call, 2=negative, 3=neutral, 4=positive, and 5=outstanding
BESF, Game 2:
1: 1 play.
2: 7 plays.
3: 13 plays.
4: 12 plays.
5: 2 plays.
So, a pretty even performance across the board for our battlefighting leader. The biggest discrepancy in the decisions came in the form of Kubiak making twelve good "4" decisions versus seven bad "2" decisions. That would imply it’s been a solid year for Kubiak regarding game management. Even if the sample size was small, that’s what he faced this year and how he fared. I’d love to have Kubiak Konundrums from seasons past to look at possible improvement, but, well, they don't exist. What I have taken away the most from this experience is how most of the calls that fans love to howl about really are excruciatingly tough decisions that see their success or failure hinge on the minutest of factors.
As for my confidence level, well, I don’t have to be analytical or unbiased in portending the future, so I’ll say I think Kubiak will have a few beautiful wrinkles and play designs up his sleeve that will put the Bengals on their heels. I also think he will for the most part make good, smart, reasoned decisions, but I have no idea how they will work out. Let’s just hope it never comes down to whether or not to kick a field goal with Neil Rackers from 49 yards out on fourth and two.