It would have been awfully easy for me to use this space to highlight/celebrate the continued excellence of J.J. Watt or Matt Schaub. Both gentlemen had excellent games yesterday. Alas, Schaub and Watt, respectively, have already been cited as a reason to celebrate in the first two weeks of the season (here and here), and there's so much to celebrate about your 3-0 Houston Texans that I want to shake it up a bit. Besides, it's virtually guaranteed that Watt and Schaub will be hailed again in this space later in the season. Got to keep the feature fresh while we still can, you know?
The biggest reason I went in a different direction, however, is that yesterday's win was historic in a very specific way for one Texan that it wasn't for anyone else. Yesterday's win officially made Gary Kubiak a winner as a head coach in the NFL. He's now 50-49 as the head coach of your Houston Texans.
Being one game over .500, much less being one game over .500 after six-plus seasons into a head coaching career, may strike you as a rather silly thing to celebrate. And perhaps it is. But do you remember the dog days of 2010, when the Texans went 6-10 and the masses were calling for Bob McNair to fire Gary Kubiak? Indeed, some fans were clamoring for Kubiak's dismissal before then--during the second 8-8 season in 2008 or even during the 9-7 campaign of 2009, citing the rationale that the Texans lost a game or three that they shouldn't have. Disastrous defensive coordinator hires, horrific challenges, questionable play-calling...it was all fodder for the "Fire Kubiak!" movement. The most ardent Kubiak supporters had to admit that, for all of Kubes' offensive brilliance, there was some legitimacy to the complaints.
Throughout it all, Kubes never wavered (at least not publicly). He never lost the locker room. Every player, to a man, spoke reverently of Kubiak. It would have been easy to bail on him, but his players never did, which made it that much easier for Bob McNair to stay the course. The hire of Wade Phillips and his subsequent transformation of the defense, both in scheme and personnel, cannot be given short shrift in the analysis of Gary Kubiak as a head coach; it was undoubtedly a sizable factor, if not the biggest factor, in the success the franchise has enjoyed since 2011.
In looking at that, though, there's still reason to praise and appreciate Gary Kubiak. A coach with a bigger ego may have had a problem with a guy of Wade's stature--a former head coach in the NFL who is a beloved native son and could have been a ready replacement for Kubes if the team had struggled last year--being named defensive coordinator. Not Kubiak. In fact, one of the things we should appreciate most about Kubes is his complete willingness to surround himself with former NFL head coaches and/or strong personalities. Wade Phillips, Ray Rhodes, Mike Sherman, Alex Gibbs...a coach less secure in his own skin could perceive guys like that as threats to his job security. Gary Kubiak never did. No matter what, he's always appeared to do what he thought was best for the Houston Texans.
That in and of itself is worth celebrating. Maybe the season will end with Gary Kubiak's record as a head coach dipping back below .500. Stranger things have happened, like magnets or a pelican trying to eat a clown's cell phone. Today, let's take a minute to appreciate Gary Kubiak. The Texans aren't 3-0 and the toast of the NFL without him.