My name is TexansDC, and I am an unabashed Gary Kubiak supporter.
During his time as Houston Texans head coach, I've said on this blog that Kubiak would be a winning coach and could certainly win a championship during his career. I've even compared his early years to Bill Belichick's early years and suggested he could have similar success once he, like Belichick, gains more experience.
That said, and note the keyword here, Gary Kubiak should be feeling a bit of heat entering this season.
It's certainly not for doing a poor job. No, Kubiak has done a wonderful job of overhauling a woeful offense, turning it into an efficient machine. He's done a good job of staying even keel and not panicking. His leadership abilities are on full display when he can keep a team from spinning out of control due to a bunch of bad injuries. Kubiak's players respect him because he treats them like grown men; he handles things in-house instead of through the media. He holds himself responsible first, and that has galvanized the team behind him. He's even got a winning record as a head coach now.
Why the hot seat? It's about plateaus and how Houston could be sitting on one.
We are entering year eight of the Kubiak Era in Houston. It may surprise some to learn that Kubiak is behind only three active head coaches in terms of tenure with a franchise (New England's Belichick, Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, and New York's Tom Coughlin). There's a certain level, even if Kubiak denied it, of comfort. He knows the people, knows the buildings, knows the media, knows what's being said or what will be said, and has proof that his way can succeed.
Lance Zierlein has that same thought and nails it on the head here: Kubiak doesn't have to get out of his comfort zone and that's a problem. Why does Kubiak have to look at his clock management? Why does Kubiak have to re-evaluate his own playbook? Why does Kubiak need to be critical about his decision making? Why does Kubiak have to change from his cautious ways in situations? He has the job. The team's winning more than it ever has. Kubiak even received an extension from a patient owner. Why change if there's no heat? Why would anyone consider making a change?
Plateaus. Right now, the Texans got over the plateau of mediocrity. They are now sitting on the second round plateau. What happens if there's a third straight year of the same? What happens to spark the change? To truly change, I firmly believe something drastic has to be the impetus. Often times, it's a change in jobs that can lead to success for all involved.
The best example would be when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had Tony Dungy in the late 90s/early 2000s. A fine head coach, Dungy plateaued the Bucs into years of playoff success without a championship. While his abilities were recognized, the question was if Dungy could ever get them over the hump. You know how the story ends. Dungy is replaced by Jon Gruden, Gruden wins a championship with Tampa Bay, Dungy learns his lessons and takes Indianapolis to their own title.
Even recently, Andy Reid, Lovie Smith, and Jeff Fisher, models of coaching consistency, all required a change of scenery. It's too early to tell if the moves have helped coach or their current and former employers, but Fisher seems to have found early success in St. Louis.
If the Texans get knocked off before the AFC Championship Game or Super Bowl, it should be time for the franchise to have that look in the mirror. Players shouldn't be the only pieces judged for plateauing or not fulfilling their potential. I firmly still believe Kubiak has the potential to be a championship-level head coach and one of the top-five guys in the business. The question, as it always has been, is will it be in Houston or somewhere else. Can Gary Kubiak get himself out of the comfort zone and find that next level of growth? It's more than a fair question to ask in year eight.