Just How Hot Is Gary Kubiak's Seat?

Is it the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? - Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

With Ian Rapoport's news about the front office coming out, we put on our tinfoil hats and read between the lines to divine the fate of Gary Kubiak.

Let me just begin this by saying, like Tim's conspiracy theory yesterday, this is nothing more than rampant speculation on Gary Kubiak based on what Ian Rapoport mentioned on NFL Network, which Corzo linked to as a FanShot on Wednesday. I have no inside information, no sources to speak of; this is just a man and a random nugget of thought that crossed his mind when he read this. Do not claim this as fact. It is the basest of speculation and meant to cause a bit of debate. Whether this is just some rational thought or something that should be placed alongside the theory that the moon landing was staged, I leave that for you to decide.

In case you haven't been paying attention this season (and frankly I wouldn't blame you if you weren't), your Houston Texans have a 2-7 record and an upcoming schedule that doesn't look to get any easier.

It's a bad place for a team to be, and an even worse one for a coach. According to Ian Rapoport, Gary Kubiak's position as head coach is becoming more tenuous with each loss.

It gives me no pleasure to say this, and I fully reserve the right to change my mind if circumstances change, but I think as of this moment, this is the beginning of the end of Gary Kubiak's stewardship of the Houston Texans. I know. I know what you're thinking out there. "The team is 2-7. If that's not enough of a reason to fire him, what is?"

Sure, it's a terrible record. Considering the expectations surrounding this team, this could very well be the worst season in Texans history. That is not, however, what I base my reasoning upon. Most of it is based on what was said by Ian Rapoport when he said the Texans' front office was frustrated with Kubiak, and what was not said.

First, the report itself. It would be easy and understandable to dispute the validity of this report by simply saying that Rapoport got it wrong, that he doesn't know what he's talking about. I'm not going to say he's never wrong because that's simply not true. He's been wrong before. Shoot, he even broke a story just the other day about Ben Roethlisberger wanting a trade out of Pittsburgh, which was quickly refuted by Roethlisberger and his agent.

The news that the front office is unhappy with Kubiak came out four days ago. It is now Friday, and not a single member of the front office, not Rick Smith, neither of the McNairs, not even Snuffy the copy boy has come out to say that Rapoport's statement is untrue. If he were mistaken, someone in a position of authority would have gotten behind a microphone by now and said something to that effect.

Rapoport specifically brought up how those in the front office dislike the way the team does not rotate in personnel at outside linebacker and along the defensive line. The front office types also supposedly don't like how the coaching staff has too much input on draft selections. I'm looking at you, Randy Bullock and Sam Montgomery.

It's a fair complaint. A weary J.J. Watt & Co. is a less effective J.J. Watt & Co., and the last thing this team needs is any more injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I also don't need to explain to you just how frightening the prospect of allowing Joe Marciano into a draft room is, let alone what kind of influence he might have on draft picks. Those are good, specific gripes, and I'll have more to say about them in a minute.

But think for a moment about the significance of these statements. If we assume Rapoport is factually correct in his reporting, and for the sake of this post we are, then this leaked statement speaks much louder than just frustration about Kubes. Consider this: When was the last time you remember anyone affiliated with the Texans' front office saying anything negative about the head coach?

The answer is "never." Not during the Smithiak era, and not even during the reign of Charley the Incompetent did you hear a discouraging word from the front office, either directly or indirectly, about the head coach. Even in the dimmest days of the franchise, such as in 2005 and 2010, ownership and the front office have been nothing but supportive of the head coach. If there have been misgivings about Kubiak or Capers, they certainly never became public knowledge. That's one of the things this franchise has excelled at over the years: message discipline. Nothing gets out that they don't want getting out.

That's part of the reason this story stuck out to me. It is entirely unlike the Texans' front office to make a statement like this, either officially or leaked to a reporter. So the question is this: why? Why would the front office, and by extension Rick Smith, make this statement at this time?

One word: Distance.

Since their respective hirings, Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak have been effectively joined at the hip; after all, there's a reason we call them "Smithiak." Their successes, like their failings, are intertwined with one another. But with the Texans facing, at the absolute best, a 9-7 record in a year when they were expected to make a run for the Super Bowl, that is a catastrophic failure. It's the kind of failure that costs people their jobs.

So when Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak see that they might both lose their jobs if this season doesn't turn around toot sweet, they're going to do the one thing they can do to save their own job: blame the other guy.

This is the first crack in the Smithiak bond. It is Rick Smith trying to distance himself from Gary Kubiak. Again, look at what Smith the front office is complaining about to Rapoport: personnel rotation and the coaching staff's influence on draft selection. Put another way, they're criticizing Kubiak's ability to manage the team and the way he puts a team together, two of the most important things a coach is responsible for.

In essence, this is laying the foundation for Rick Smith ti show why Kubiak should be fired, but also why he should be retained by the McNairs. Neither of these problems are Smith's fault, or at least that's what he would hope how the McNairs would see it.

That's what I got out of Rapoport's story.

What's more, I think Kubiak's aware of this too. He's back to pacing the sidelines after being off the field for a couple of weeks. This wasn't a chest cold he was suffering from. It was a transient ischemic attack, a mini-stroke. Why else would he rush back to an incredibly stressful job, one that could make his condition even worse (although unlikely, since he's probably on blood thinners of some kind to treat it), if he wasn't worried about hanging on to his job? The doctors may have cleared him to return to work, but it's pretty apparent that Kubiak is not 100%. Heck, Tania Ganguli just reported that Kubiak might have to coach from the press box. Then again, who knows, maybe he just wants to be back on the sideline because he missed it. I wouldn't fault him for that either.

Still, I can't help wondering if the hot seat has gotten just a little too hot for Kubiak to remain seated for much longer, and if this is the year where Kubiak is shown the door.

Okay, time for me to take off the tinfoil hat. Let me know what you think. Is this just making a whole lot out of not much? Do you think maybe there might be something to this? Do these pants make my butt look big? You make the call!

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