McNair talks mental toughness

Bob McNair didn’t look at close and think about horseshoes or hand grenades.

He rated 15 of his Texans’ games as close and rated that as a good thing, even though they lost six of the 15. The 24-7 opening-day loss to the Jets qualified as the exception.

“We had a chance to win 15 out of our 16 games,” McNair said at a Wednesday news conference to make Gary Kubiak’s contract extension official. “That’s never happened to us before. I think in terms of the excitement, I don’t think anyone can question whether those 15 games were exciting games or not. They were as exciting as they can be.

McNair also sees the failure to close out some of those tight games as a missing ingredient I rate as major.

“One of the things that we’re learning as a team is to be mentally tougher so that in those close games, we’re going to be able to come out the victor and not have it go the other way,” he said. “I think we’ve made progress there, and I’m pleased with the way it’s going. I think we’re developing some leadership on the team. We have a very young team. I think I looked at the roster during the New England game, and I think in terms of age, I think the average age of our starters versus theirs, we were almost four years younger across the board.

“That’s a big difference. We’re getting some players now, though, who have been around, have played for a while, developed some maturity and can provide the kind of leadership that we need in those close games, and I think we’re going to see the results of that.”

While the Texans look to improve at running back, on the interior offensive and defensive lines, at corner and at free safety, gains in the mental toughness department might be just as big.

If they keep up the close-but-no-cigar trend next year, McNair could wind up swallowing that extension.