McNair: 'It's been horrible, a nightmare'
The Gary Kubiak Era in Houston is over.
The Texans fired their long-time head coach on Friday, the day after their 11th straight loss.
Owner Bob McNair, son Cal and general manager Rick Smith showed up to Kubiak's normal day-after press conference to announce the firing. McNair said he made the decision to fire Kubiak on the team’s flight back from Jacksonville.
"This has been a very disappointing year for the Texans’ organization," McNair said. "We started out with such high hopes. We felt like we had the best roster that we’ve ever started the year with. We really anticipated a really favorable outcome. To have this string of losses that we sustained is just totally unacceptable and it’s not what this organization is about. We’re about winning and accountability."
Why make the switch now?
"We decided that one of the advantages of taking action now rather than waiting is it allows us to start the process of finding a new head coach and that process is under way," McNair said. "And those prospects that are not under contract in the NFL are people that we can visit with. So we’ll start this process immediately."
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, 66, will take over as interim coach for the final three games. Phillips will be a candidate for the head coaching job, McNair said. Phillips took over for Kubiak earlier this season, when Kubiak had a mini-stroke on the sideline.
General manager Smith, who many thought might get fired along with Kubiak at the season’s end, sat next to McNair during the press conference on Thursday.
“We’ve been together for almost 18 years,” Smith said of his relationship with Kubiak. “That’s obviously a lot of history and I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for him. It was a difficult decision, but what’s taking place is not acceptable for our organization. When you have a setback of this magnitude, it requires extensive introspection and we’ve got three more weeks of a season to continue the evaluation process that has been ongoing.”
The Texans came into the 2013 season with Super Bowl aspirations but have fallen extremely short of those. After two wins to start the season, they have lost 11 straight, including two to the Jaguars.
Kubiak will finish with a 61-64 record as the Texans' head coach. Kubiak, 52, took over with the Texans in 2006. In 2011 and 2012, he led the Texans to back-to-back playoff appearances and division titles. Kubiak was the league's fourth-longest tenured coach.
“It was difficult for me because I think so much of Gary,” McNair said about the meeting with Kubiak. “It was something that I didn’t want to do but you do what’s best for the organization. But Gary accepted it and understands the situation and is thankful for the opportunity he’s had and we’re thankful for the job that he’s done for us.”
McNair talked about the development of Case Keenum and named Keenum the starter. Kubiak brought in Matt Schaub to close out two of Keenum’s seven starts. On Thursday night, in front of a national TV audience, Schaub came in and the Texans still lost to the Jaguars, who were thought to be the worst team in the league coming into the season.
Now, the worst team in the league resides in Houston.
“Well, I think the last straw was losing,” McNair said. “We’ve got a lot better talent than Jacksonville and to have them beat us twice, that’s to their credit, they played harder, they played smarter. That’s not acceptable to us, to have some team beat us on that basis. If they’re better than us, if they have better ability, then fine. But we expect to go out and play hard and play smart and we didn’t play smart.”