Losing twice to the Jacksonville Jaguars was the last straw for Gary Kubiak.
The Houston Texans fired Kubiak on Friday morning, team owner Bob McNair announced, mere hours after losing for the second time to the Jaguars — their 11th straight loss this season in a year they entered with Super Bowl aspirations.
“Taking action now instead of waiting allows us the process of finding a new coach,” McNair said at a press conference on Friday. “That process is underway, and those prospects who are not under contract in the NFL are people we can visit with, so we'll start the process.”
Nearly everything has gone wrong for the Texans, who had to claw to win their first two games of the season before dropping their next 11. The Texans benched quarterback Matt Schaub, witnessed the season-ending injury of Arian Foster, made a failed free-agent signing of Ed Reed and saw Kubiak collapse at halftime of a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Wade Phillips, who replaced Kubiak while he recuperated midseason, will take over for Kubiak again for the remainder of the season on an interim basis. This will be his fourth interim stint, after previous ones with the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and the Texans, counting the earlier fill-in for Kubiak. McNair said Friday that Phillips will earn a chance to interview for the vacant position when the time comes.
Kubiak coached three games shy of eight full seasons in Houston, with a regular-season record of 61-64, despite only two losing seasons prior to this one. Kubiak turned in his two best seasons in 2011 and 2012, with records of 10-6 and 12-4. But the team never could reach a conference championship or, as was the realistic expectation this season, the Super Bowl.
McNair said that Case Keenum, who replaced Schaub as the starter but twice has been benched after starting games, will remain in the starting role so the Texans can determine if he has a future as the team's QB fixture. That would seemingly spell the end for Schaub, who played well Thursday up until a game-ending interception, with the franchise after this season.
The Texans are in line to finish with the NFL's worst record and earn the top pick in the draft, and yet McNair does not view this as a total rebuild.
"This is not a long-term rebuilding process, I want to make that clear. We've got the core group of players." McNair #Texans
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) December 6, 2013
McNair said he will seek candidates with prior head-coaching experience, but it could include a college coach such as Baylor's Art Briles, who previously coached at University of Houston. It also could include former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, a Texas native, who is not in the NFL this season.
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