HOUSTON, Texas — The Houston Texans relieved Gary Kubiak of his duties as head coach on Friday, less than 24 hours after the team was dealt its 11th consecutive loss with a 27-20 setback at Jacksonville.
Kubiak had guided the Texans to consecutive AFC South titles and a pair of playoff wins over the previous two seasons, but the team presently owns the NFL’s worst record at 2-11 while clearly disappointing during this 2013 campaign.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who served as interim head coach for one of those defeats when Kubiak missed the club’s Nov. 16 matchup at Arizona while recovering from a mini-stroke, will take over the Texans for the final three regular-season games.
“We felt that a change was needed at the head coach position,” Texans owner Bob McNair said during a press conference to announce Kubiak’s dismissal. “Losing like this is just not acceptable and something we cannot tolerate.”
The Texans put together the most successful run in franchise history just a year ago, going 12-4 during the regular season and defeating Cincinnati in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs. However, a rash of injuries and instability at the quarterback position has seen the club’s fortunes plummet following a 2-0 start in 2013.
Kubiak benched veteran Matt Schaub following a 38-13 home loss to St. Louis in Week 6 and inserted the inexperienced Case Keenum in his place under center. While Keenum displayed flashes in his time as the No. 1 quarterback, Houston has lost all seven of the former college free agent’s starts.
The Texans have also had several key players, including running back Arian Foster, linebacker Brian Cushing and tight end Owen Daniels, miss significant time due to injuries during this year’s nose-dive.
Kubiak has dealt with some medical issues of his own. The 52-year-old collapsed while heading to the locker room during halftime of a Nov. 9 clash with Indianapolis and was briefly hospitalized with what was diagnosed as a transient ischemic attack.
The Texans were leading the division front-running Colts 21-3 at the time of Kubiak’s medical emergency, then proceeded to blow the 18-point advantage and lose by a 27-24 score.
A 13-6 home loss to a 1-9 Jacksonville squad three weeks later was another low point, and McNair’s patience finally ran out after the Texans committed 14 penalties totaling 177 yards in Thursday’s nationally televised setback to the Jaguars.
“It’s been a nightmare,” McNair said of the season. “We’ve got to do something about it.”
Kubiak, a Houston native, was in his eighth year as the Texans’ head coach and led the team to its only two playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012, while finishing with a .500 record or better in five of those seasons.
He compiled a 61-64 overall record during his tenure and went 2-2 in postseason games.
“We had a great run here and we will never forget our back-to-back AFC South championships,” said Kubiak in a statement. “Coming back home was a dream come true for all of us. This will always be our [family’s] home.”
McNair stated on Friday that the organization will be seeking someone with NFL coaching experience as Kubiak’s successor, believing the Texans have most of the pieces in place to quickly transition back to contention in the AFC.
“This is not a long-term rebuilding process, I want to make that clear,” he said. “We’ve got the core group of players.”