HOUSTON – Gary Kubiak was fired as coach of the Houston Texans effective immediately, the team announced Friday morning.
Texans owner Bob McNair made the announcement at a press conference at Reliant Stadium after the team lost its 11th consecutive game of the season Thursday night, 27-20, against division rival, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The owner said that he decided it was time for a change with the last straw being the loss to the Jaguars. The Texans played miserably and were flagged 14 times for a franchise-record 177 yards.
“We have more talent than Jacksonville. We expect to go out and play smart and we didn’t play smart,” said McNair.
The Texans are 2-11 after beginning the season as a favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Kubiak’s overall record is 61-64, with a 2-2 mark in the playoffs.
“Losing like this is unacceptable and it’s something we can’t tolerate,” McNair said.
McNair said that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The owner said Phillips would be considered as a candidate for the permanent head coaching position along with others from outside the organization.
McNair also stated that Case Keenum will remain the starter for rest of season after showing flashes of brilliance although making rookie mistakes. Keenum had been pulled late in the third quarter of Thursday night's game in favor of Matt Schaub.
“We have a young quarterback in Case Keenum and we need to find out whether he can be a starter,” McNair said. “The only way to find out is by playing him.”
Before this season, the Texans were coming off two consecutive playoff appearances, which included two AFC South titles. The team was eliminated in the divisional round both times, but expectations were high for this season.
“We are here to have a winning culture and this year has not contributed to that,” McNair said. “We’ve got to turn this around.”
Texans General Manager Rick Smith that everyone will be evaluated over the course of the three remaining regular season games to determine their future with the team.
“We’ve got to right this ship. We’ve got to move forward,” Smith said. “We have three more games to evaluate every player, coach and process.”
Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke Nov. 3 in a frightening scene, collapsing at halftime during a game against the Colts and being rushed to a Houston hospital. He had returned to the sidelines, but the Texans have been unable to rebound from injuries to top players including quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Arian Foster.
The team later said Kubiak suffered a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is briefly interrupted, typically by a blood clot or narrowed blood vessels.
Experts say they are often a warning sign for a future stroke, particularly within three months of a TIA.
The workaholic coach said he has learned through this ordeal he must take the advice of others and slow down some.
Kubiak, a former NFL quarterback who calls the team’s plays, has long been known as a top offensive coach, mentoring quarterbacks in Denver under Mike Shanahan and then Schaub and Case Keenum in Houston.
He was hired in 2006, along with Smith, after the Texans finished a franchise-worst 2-14. Smith spent 10 years with Kubiak while the coach was offensive coordinator of the Broncos. Smith was Denver’s defensive assistant for four seasons before moving into the front office for his last six years with the Broncos.
The pair helped transform the Texans, which began play in 2002, from league laughingstock to contender. The team went 6-10 in their first year and 8-8 in each of the next two seasons. Expectations were high in 2010 after Houston finished at 9-7 for its first winning record in 2009. The Texans instead fell to 6-10, which led to many fans calling for Kubiak’s firing.
His original contract was due to expire after the 2010 season, but McNair defended him several times amid the bumps.
Last year, the Texans announced contract extensions for both Smith and Kubiak, rewarding them for taking the team to the playoffs last year for the first time. Kubiak’s three-year agreement has him under contract through 2014.
McNair said at the time he offered Kubiak a four-year deal, but the coach preferred to make it for three.
Kubiak made his mark as Denver’s offensive coordinator under Shanahan, winning two Super Bowls. An eighth-round pick out of Texas A&M, he spent nine years as John Elway’s backup. He finished his career 4-1 as a starter, all in emergency relief of Elway.