HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 07: Bob McNair of the Houston Texans walks off the field after the Houston Texans were defeated by the San Diego Chargers 29-23 at Reliant Stadium on November 7 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Kubiak? Cowher? Gruden? Dungy? Those don't matter nearly as much as a proactive plan for 2011.
I have had a pretty busy last week-and-a-half which prevented me from writing any sort of "Seven Thoughts" feature or something on the fate of Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. Even now, a "Seven Thoughts" feature seems a bit pointless because Kubiak's fate is the prevailing topic when talking Houston Texans. Since every angle has been written on both pro- and anti-Kubiak stances, I don't feel particularly strong about rehashing old topics and beating dead horses. Instead of arguing for or against Kubiak, I would like to bring up one point that should be wrinkling people's brains in terms of this decision upon season's end.
To begin, I want to state that I do not know what the right move for the Houston Texans would be. There are no easy answers, and this has been admitted by fan, blogger, reporter, player, coach, and everyone alike. Whatever Houston owner Bob McNair decides to do after the Week 17 match-up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, I only ask that his decisions come from a proactive place and not a reactive one.
What do I mean by that sentence? If McNair fires Kubiak and/or defensive coordinator Frank Bush and/or the entire defensive staff for their 2010 shortcomings and/or entire Houston career then he is acting in a reactive manner. By its very nature, there is no thought in reactive decision-making. You are reacting and making a change, often for the sake of making a change.
The problem with that line of non-thinking is that you're not necessarily making a change to improve tomorrow by basing your decisions on a reaction. In other words, reacting means there is no plan in place.
Reacting can backfire in the NFL because what happened in 2009 is not necessarily indicative of what will happen in 2010 or based on what happened in 2008. This is why playoff team turnover has averaged about six teams each season in the 2000s because each season presents a whole new list of variables. However, the teams that have been successful consistently - your New Englands, Indianapolises, and Philadelphias - are often looking forward, anticipating these variables, and making proactive decisions in case a player doesn't re-sign, an injury occurs, or an assistant gets plucked from the tree.
If Bob McNair is going to make changes then I hope it's because he (A) doesn't foresee any significant self-improvement coming from his coaches and players and (B) has a plan in place to make changes that will result in a better way of doing things as opposed to making changes for the sake of change.
Luckily for McNair, it's obvious that any change in some situations, like one at defensive coordinator and the defensive staff, will lead to improvements. However, a change at head coach may or may not lead to a better Texans franchise, as evidenced by the varying disagreement on Kubiak or any potential replacements (Bill Cowher? Tony Dungy? Jon Gruden? John Fox?).
At such a critical point in the franchise's ten-year history, this is a time for the franchise's owner to show his own leadership, management, and decision-making skills. McNair needs to be currently analyzing Kubiak (and others) so he can make decisive decisions in order to get a complete staff together that can, at the very least, work together and plan for the off-season/season during any potential lockout.
For that to happen, McNair should be asking himself the following questions, amongst others: Are the shortcomings of the Houston Texans directly traced to Gary Kubiak or are there fundamental problems within the organization? Has Kubiak improved as a head coach? Does he recognize his remaining weaknesses? Can those be overcome? Have I given Gary the necessary tools to succeed or have I put him in a bad situation (like I did in 2006 when I made him figure out David Carr)? Is a better head coaching candidate actually interested in the franchise or is said candidate simply using Houston for leverage for more money elsewhere? Does this candidate actually have a plan to fix this team or is he simply living off his reputation? Does Kubiak have a plan or is he mentally done? If I hire a new head coach what other problems will present themselves? If I stick with Kubiak what will I need to give him in order to succeed? Am I firing Kubiak because a change is needed or because I have an improvement plan in place? Is [whatever decision is reached] the best move for the Texans going forward?
A good front office is looking down the road, not in the rear view mirror. Regardless of what Bob McNair decides, I hope he has a plan in place for the off-season. Since the 2011 NFL off-season starts on January 2nd around 3:15 PM CT, I guess fans won't have to wait too long to see if McNair's reacting to 2010 or planning for 2011.