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Friday, January 30, 2009
And the Texans' best assistant coach is ...

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

We asked for your input earlier this week on who you think the Texans' best assistant coach is.

Here's a sampling of replies in the comments to the post and in my mailbag:

Chris in Austin: RE: Best Texans Coach Alex Gibbs is the obvious answer, but I have to go with Johnny Holland if you want to make it interesting. DeMeco Ryans is of course a great player - but he's done wonders with Zac Diles (7th-round pick), and he had Xavier Adibi playing very well for a guy of his age and experience level. I'm not ready to judge Kyle Shanahan's ability until he calls plays all of next season.

Stu in Austin/Houston, TX: I think Steve Slaton helps Gibbs be the obvious choice. When he got it going and showed everyone what a "3rd down back" can do with heart, I think that helped the entire offense especially the line. As a Texans fan it was pretty nice to see Slaton keep his feet going but getting more yards because of 3 or 4 linemen hitting the pile. Gibbs was the best assistant coach this year but hopefully an assistant on the defensive side of the ball is tops next year, thats the case, it could be a winning season for the Texans.

Kevin in Portland: Paul- How about Joe Marciano, Special Teams coordinator as the Texans best assistant coach? He doesn't get much credit, but the kicking game has been good, and the return game has produced an All-Pro Kick Returner. I can't recall seeing special teams cost the Texans a game, and I've watched them find plenty of ways to lose them.

Marvelous in Houston Heights: Greetings Paul - Given the Texans short history and the fact that there's really not been anything more noteworthy than what Alex Gibbs has done, I think it's kind of a no-brainer to say he's the guy. We're a season away from knowing if Kid Shanahan is the goods or garbage, and Holland kind of idled this past year. Here's hoping that Gibbs Jr and the other additions pan out and we are talking about who we are afraid of losing from our staff next year.

Buck in Portland: That may be a tougher question than you think. Alex Gibbs is the heavy favorite, but you neglected to mention Ray Rhodes, who is no slouch. It's tough to say what impact Rhodes has had on the secondary what with Slingblade calling the defensive plays last year, but suffice it to say he has an impressive defensive resume. But, I won't get too cute, Gibbs' influence on the offense can't be overstated. It has to be Alex Gibbs.

Nicholascursee: Honestly the texans have a collectively good staff of coaches, but we must not just look at this year as their breakout year. Actually last year was their break out year. And if you look at a position that has truly shined when the team was in it darkest hours, it was always the WR group. They shined last year even though Andre Johnson missed 7-games with a knee sprain, even when Matt Schuab and Sage Rosenfeld struggled to grasp the reigns of the offense, they were still being led by Kevin Walters and Andre Davis. But this year when Andre Johnson the offense went soaring to a #3 Total offense ranking. Much praise goes to Kubiak, Shanahan, but it should also go to Coach Larry Kirksey, Mike Mcdaniel, and Matt Lafleur. These guys did as much as work as the big two.

Texans Tradition: Another candidate when taking Alex Gibbs out of the equation is Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Ray Rhodes. The case for him would have to revolve around his vast experience in the NFL, especially on the defensive side of the ball. How about this for experience: He's been a head coach twice in this league, a defensive coordinator 5 different times, and been a specialist for the secondary 4 different times. He has accumulated coach of the year honors, a Super Bowl ring, and has engineered multiple top 10 defenses. How is that for a resume? Now, if only the Texans could get some more pressure on the QB.

I'm a little confused by those who point to Rhodes. This isn't a résumé contest, it's a discussion of who the best assistant coach is. Rhodes is a good coach with a wealth of experience, but the Texans defensive backfield was hardly a strength in 2007, and I can't see the rationale for selecting a secondary secondary coach -- as assistant defensive backs coach, Rhodes ranked behind Jon Hoke, who was fired.

The clear choice here is Gibbs, who helped change an offensive line mindset -- and an offensive mindset really -- while setting the stage for Slaton to break out as a rookie.