Former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak interviewed for the Detroit Lions' head coaching job on Tuesday. To get a better idea of what he's all about, I sent five questions to Tim from Battle Red Blog, SB Nation's Texans blog. You can check out his answers below.
1. After a 2-0 start in 2013, Kubiak's tenure with the Texans came to an end following 11 straight losses. Was it just a perfect storm of problems that led to such a rough season for Houston, and how much of the blame goes back to Kubiak?
Calling it a perfect storm probably absolves Kubiak too much, but there's no doubt a whole lot went wrong at once. If there's a single criticism to lay at Kubiak's feet for how the Texans spiraled this season, it's that he stuck with Matt Schaub far too long. Loyalty is a great character trait, but it likely had a big hand in getting Kubiak fired. When Kubes put Schaub in for Case Keenum during the loss to the Raiders, Texans fans wondered what he was thinking. When Kubiak did it again in the loss at Jacksonville, his fate was sealed. To be fair, he was almost surely a goner anyway, but I firmly believe that singular decision on Thursday Night Football convinced Bob McNair to act the following day instead of waiting until the end of the season.
2. Before 2011, Kubiak had a 37-43 record as head coach of the Texans. He then put together a 22-10 record over the next two seasons before things bottomed out in 2013. Which stretch of Kubiak's tenure best reflects his overall coaching ability?
I'd say he's probably closer to the guy whose team hovered near .500 than the guy whose team went 22-10 in 2011 and 2012. That's not a dig on him. That's merely acknowledging that his teams went 6-10, 8-8, 8-8, 9-7, 6-10, 10-6, 12-4 and 2-11 (he got fired before the last three losses this year). The records sort of speak for themselves, and I say that as a Gary Kubiak fan.
3. The top priority for the Lions' next head coach is to elevate Matthew Stafford's game to another level. How would you evaluate the development of the Texans' quarterbacks under Kubiak?
If there's one reason to be bullish on Gary Kubiak, it's that he truly does work wonders with QBs. He made Matt Schaub into a very good QB for several years. He finished a push to a division title and won a playoff game with a rookie who was drafted in the fifth round. He even adjusted his game plan the first few weeks that Case Keenum started this year to the point that there were some people who thought Keenum could be a legitimate starting QB in the NFL. When it comes to quarterback whispering, Gary Kubiak is for real.
4. The Lions struggled big time in the discipline department under Jim Schwartz. Pre-snap penalties, personal fouls and turnovers were the norm. How were the Texans in the discipline department under Kubiak?
Up until this season, I'd say the Texans were a fairly disciplined team under Gary Kubiak. This year, the freaking wheels came flying off.
5. What would you characterize as the strengths and weaknesses of a "typical" Kubiak-coached team?
Strengths: Solid QB play. Strong running attack in the zone blocking scheme (at least for Steve Slaton's rookie year and each year Arian Foster has been healthy). Good use of TEs. Offensive line play (generally; it was noticeably worse in 2012 and outright awful at times this past season).
Weaknesses: Defense (until Wade Phillips came along in 2011, the Texans' defenses were consistently atrocious under Kubiak, thanks in large part to his awful hires at DC in Richard Smith and Frank Bush). Clock management. Lack of in-game adjustments. Loyalty to an incomprehensible fault (e.g., Schaub, Kubiak's insane refusal to ever fire special teams coach Joe Marciano).