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Friday, December 9, 2011
Converted skeptic: Kubiak has earned more

By Paul Kuharsky

San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh is going to win coach of the year, and he’s deserving.

Gary Kubiak
Gary Kubiak has Houston rolling despite season-ending injuries to several key players.
So this isn’t a piece about how Houston's Gary Kubiak won’t get fair consideration. He should be a solid second, and if he’s not, does the way guys stack up behind the winner really mean much?

I’ve been critical of Kubiak in the past, though less critical than some.

My primary complaint was about his team’s mental toughness and personality. Teams take on the personality of their coach and Kubiak was too nice, too aw-shucks. I thought Wade Phillips was a good hire as defensive coordinator, but would bring more of the same to a team that lacked sufficient fire. Even Andre Johnson went along with my idea that the team could use at least one jerk in the mix.

The way this season has unfolded has changed my mind.

I was wrong in predicting that Kubiak and his staff lacked an ingredient coming into this season necessary for success. He’s done remarkable work keeping a team on track through the loss of outside linebacker Mario Williams, an injury to Johnson that took him away for six games (and a new one that is likely to cost a couple more), contests without running back Arian Foster and safety Danieal Manning and season-ending injuries in back-to-back games to quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart.

I’m not big on symbolic contract extensions in-season, and believe one now would amount to a distraction.

But this team is going to the playoffs. The door opened with Peyton Manning’s injury and the Colts’ collapse for certain, but someone still had to storm through it. The Texans are doing so at 9-3, improbable based on the injuries.

Kubiak is pretty unflappable. He came into the season knowing another disappointing season would end his six-season term at the Texans’ helm. His level approach has finally translated into performance and production. It’s allowed for no panic as major issues have popped up.

He’s got a team that believes in itself as much as anyone in the league outside of Wisconsin.

He’s signed through 2012. This skeptic believes he’s already proved worthy of more.