- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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General manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak crafted and fielded a team that made a major breakthrough last season: the Houston Texans’ first trip to the playoffs.
Owner Bob McNair had major faith in both of them, and with that progress and payoff the contract extensions they’ve both gotten are well-deserved.
While fielding congratulatory messages, both Smith and Kubiak should make one important stop today in the office of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to say thanks for his contribution.
They were smart enough to hire him, but the story of the Texans and the job security of Smith and Kubiak could be a far different tale but for the contribution of Phillips in his first year overseeing the defense.
Kubiak is an offensive head coach who calls the plays. Finding the right defensive "head coach" was a must for the franchise. And, coming out of a lockout, Phillips’ transformation of the group into a 3-4 with a real personality was nothing short of phenomenal.
His fingerprints were on the draft selections of J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed, great fits for his system who made giant and immediate contributions. He saw how good Brian Cushing could be inside instead of outside. He voted for the plan that brought in Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning.
And, much to the Texans' relief, Phillips took the pay bump McNair gave him late last season and passed on a trip to Tampa Bay to interview for the head-coaching job.
Smith and Kubiak deserve applause and credit. I don’t see them as the type to rest on their laurels now. The division is primed for the taking again, and a second division title in a row could indicate that the franchise is only at the start of something big.
Something that might never have gotten started and might have been scrapped but for Phillips’ contribution.