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Monday, January 11, 2010
On replacing Shanny in Houston

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Paging through Pro Football Weekly Sunday during commercials in the games, I came across an excellent item.

PFW’s “Audible” section is insightful stuff, anonymous takes from scouts, coaches and front-office personnel. I always like the ones that hit on themes.

Here’s the one that caught my eye from the most recent issue:

"A lot of teams have maintained the same head coach and very similar personnel, but the results have not been the same. What everyone overlooks is the assistant coaches have changed. Not having Spags (Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo) really hurt the Giants. (The loss of) Jim Schwartz (to Detroit) hurt Tennessee. Baltimore lost Rex Ryan to the Jets. And you have to really break down how many assistants with those teams followed their coordinators. It's usually at least one, if not several. They tend to bring their defensive assistants and make them coordinators. So you lose two good coaches, not only one. That takes a huge toll. Assistant coaching is very valuable and undervalued."

Gary Kubiak is spending the day with Rick Dennison, who appears in line to replace offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan has gone to Washington to work with his father.

The arrow is up on Houston. Matt Schaub was outstanding despite the lack of a running game, and Bernard Pollard did wondrous work in solidifying the defense. The needs seems obvious -- a running back, help in the secondary at free safety and cornerback and an additional defensive tackle.

But the departure of a coordinator the team liked will have a bearing. (Houston had a new defensive coordinator last year as Frank Bush took over for Richard Smith, but that came out of the Texans letting Smith go.)

Does Dennison or whoever takes Shanahan’s place automatically become the playcaller, or might Kubiak get more involved again?

How quickly does Schaub bond with the new guy? Are they able to pick up where Schaub left off with Shanahan, or are there things that need to be rebuilt from close to scratch?

Beyond personnel, these are questions we should be examining closely as 2010 begins to unfold for the Texans’ offense.