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Houston Texans Offseason: "Smithiak" Extended

The worst kept secret inside the offices on Kirby was made official; head coach Gary Kubiak and GM Rick Smith were given contract extensions. You may take issue with the merit of the decision, but this news should not come as a surprise. Owner Bob McNair refused to fire Kubiak after 5 consecutive non-playoff seasons; what did you think would happen after not only their first trip to the playoffs, but a playoff win? Also know that McNair hates having coaches in "lame duck" status with only 1 year remaining on their deal. He subscribes to the theory that being in the last year lessens the authority a coach has; I think that belief is overblown, but it's his money. McNair told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:

Stability is very important to me," McNair said after the three-day minicamp ended. "They work very well together. They’re committed to bringing a championship to Houston. That is our goal.

The biggest question/concern I have about this extension is; did Wade Philips actually earn it? In 5 seasons without Philips, Kubiak had a 37-43 record. It begs the question, how does 1 good season outweigh 5 disappointing seasons? The impact that Philips had on this team can't be undersold and I think Kubiak owes Philips an expensive gift for saving his job. Before last season, every active coach that had been in the league for as long as Kubiak, had either made the playoffs multiple times or been fired. What makes Kubiak special or different? In most organizations, I don't think the extensions would have been given, but this isn't most organizations. I don't think it was a horrible decision, but clearly the standard of success has been set lower here than in other organizations.

Of the two, I think Rick Smith's extension was more deserved. Kubiak has an overall losing record, but Smith has had several big drafts, even before Wade Philips. Smith had a good draft in 2008 (Duane Brown & Steve Slaton), and then great drafts in 2009 (Brian Cushing, Connor Barwin, Glover Quin, James Casey, Brice McCain, & Troy Nolan), and 2011 (J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed, T.J. Yates). On top of that, he's signed guys from off the scrap heap like Arian Foster and Wade Smith, and pulled off two huge free-agent deals last off-season with Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning.

Overall, as long as McNair doesn't let the extensions affect future decisions; I don't have a problem with it. What I mean by that, you sometimes hear owners say they can't fire a coach because of the amount of years and money they're still owed and that they don't want to pay two coaches. If the Texans tank and go 4-12 next season (not saying I think that will happen), McNair better not use Kubiak's contract status as a reason to keep him on board. No one forced him into this decision, if he doesn't make future decisions purely on what happens on the field; he'll deserve a ton of criticism. If McNair treats this just as a PR type move like it should be, then this will end up being a nothing story.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.