"Just add a pinch of salt, Matt. Lions are salty enough." - Gregory Shamus
After another overtime thriller, Battle Red Blog praises and criticizes head coach Gary Kubiak. Is it possible to get on and off the same person?
Due to the holidays and travel, I have yet to really express what I thought about the Thanksgiving Day Fiesta known as the Houston Texans taking on the Detroit Lions. For the second straight game, I found myself way too high and way too low at times and was on the edge of my seat all the way through overtime. It is exactly what I did not want to experience on Thanksgiving, and I have not even gotten to the horror that was Kid Rock on my TV. However, I am still very thankful that Justin Forsett remembered one of the first things I learned in little league football.
"You play until you hear a whistle." It is the first thing I ever heard on the football field when I first played at seven years old and it was one of the first things I heard repeated on the field every year I played. People want to focus on one mistakenly thrown challenge flag or one rule but give Forsett credit for not stopping until the whistle blew.
I could also spend some article space talking, once again, about the greatness that is record-setting Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt, but we all know that, right? They are both playing like All-Pro/Pro Bowl players and doing what needs to be done to help the team win.
Instead of heaping more deserved praise on their plates, I will finish this introduction by listing other players who should get All-Pro and/or Pro Bowl consideration along those two: Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, James Casey, Owen Daniels, Duane Brown, Chris Myers, Kareem Jackson, Danieal Manning, Glover Quin, and Bryan Braman. You do not get to 10-1 without having a significant portion of the roster playing as one of the three or four best at their respective positions. Even if they have to decline the invitation, these guys deserve all the recognition they can get. Let's get on and get off some people now.
Get On Gary Kubiak's Situation Management
At the end of last Sunday's game against Jacksonville, we watched Gary Kubiak burn off 20 seconds as he settled for a field goal at the end of regulation. Instead of using some short out routes to get the potential game-winning field goal under 42-yards, Graham settled for the opportunity. We know how that situation ended.
In Detroit, Houston had the ball for another game-winning field on Detroit's 32 (a 49-yard field goal). Kubiak had the offense run three straight times to set up Graham exactly where he wanted it, the left hash, for a 51-yard field goal. Graham would miss that kick, too.
In both games, Kubiak's been saved from the proverbial fire by wins, but the situation management is still troublesome. No, he should not fear a game-winning field goal. His job is to trust his guys to do their job, but to settle for long field goals? He gets to a point where there is a shot, but he settles for his small odds as opposed to increasing his chances of winning.
Both instances, there was no reason to shut it down for a field goal. Houston had time and the offense had been moving the ball prior to those kicks. Kubiak has to trust the offense to move the ball closer to give Graham more makeable kicks.
Get Off Gary Kubiak's Player Management
His situation management aside, Kubiak should earn a lot of praise for how he managed this team over the past three games. Three rough, physical, draining games where they twice entered halftime trailing. Never did this team panic or get down on themselves about mistakes or missed opportunities. When they trailed, the offense stepped up and scored. When they needed a stop, the Bulls on Parade got the job done. When one faltered, the other picked them up until they could make up for their mistake.
Not only did they keep an even-keel, but this team had the endurance to finish the fight. Whether it was Kubiak's insistence on being in shape in the summer (right, Brandon Brooks?) or his use of walkthroughs all this short week, the Texans had just enough in them to pull double overtime duty this week. There was plenty more rotation in Thursday's game, by my eyes, than in Sunday's, so Kubiak did a good job of keeping his finger on the pulse of his team's energy levels. This part should not be lost given the grueling stretch the team endured.
He may need a copy of the old Madden NFL Coach games, but Kubiak certainly knows how to keep his team together and moving forward. If there is any certain area where one can see Kubiak's skills as a top-level head coach, it is his incredible job at managing his players.
Your turn, BRB, who or what are you getting on or off this week?
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