November 24, 2010
Ergo the Egos
by Keith Weiland
Keith -at- IntheBullseye -dot- com
Another November to never remember.
To say that Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith haven't had much success in the eleventh month is a bit of an understatement. The pair has helmed a Texans squad that is 0-4 this month heading into a now nearly meaningless game this Sunday against the Titans.
It follows a familiar, now annual trend:
2010: At 4-2, in a year with the division title finally within reach, the Texans lose four straight, all key to conference positioning.
2009: At 5-3, the Texans lose their next four, all to division opponents, to fall to 5-7 and slim playoff hopes.
2008: At 3-4, the Texans lose their next three to slip to 3-7 and out of the playoff picture.
What gives? How can a team stumble in a very similar fashion year after year?
The season's third quarter may lend itself into a lack of midseason adjustments by the coaching staff. Perhaps it is an inability to recognize the need to evolve in a league that has access to a DVR and a satellite dish.
Just as likely though is a blindness of ego suffered by Kubiak and Smith to fairly evaluate the talent on the roster and to know when to check themselves before they wreck themselves.
It took Kubiak five seasons before he finally lucked into that undrafted gem at running back, the same secret sauce that made the offense sweet during his successful tenure as a member of the Broncos coaching staff.
It has yet to happen for Smith, a former defensive back turned general manager, to find a way to answer the annual deficiencies in the team's secondary. Smith, who ostensibly clashed over a franchise tag and heated negotiations with cornerback Dunta Robinson, opted to start a rookie, Kareem Jackson, at one corner this season opposite another second-year player at the other corner position. He also released Jacques Reeves before the season, a former starter who belonged on the bench but probably not off of the roster this season.
Couple those decisions with Smith's inability to find a useful free safety, and he has left his head coach with a secondary largely responsible for allowing around four touchdowns per game.
While Robinson may never have regained his pre-injury (or even his rookie season) form, he certainly had far more credibility in coverage than his replacement, at least for the 2010 season when Robinson could have been signed for just this year. Handing over the sort of contract the Falcons eventually gave Robinson might have proven foolish, letting him walk without a veteran Plan B has been just as costly.
Might the Texans have been a playoff team if Kubiak addressed the running back position sooner? If Smith had either retained Robinson and Reeves or at least not made such a gamble on an inexperienced set of corners? It is anyone's guess since we are only left to speculate, but through yet another November swoon we can be assured that their reluctance to see past their egos will keep the Texans from postseason once again.
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