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Monday, January 3, 2011
Two out of three verdicts are in

By Paul Kuharsky

Two out of three verdicts are in, and in the AFC South the status quo is in vogue.

And a couple owners won’t be paying multiple coaches.

Opponents of Gary Kubiak and Jack Del Rio aren’t happy and are voicing opinions about endorsements of mediocrity. Their owners have pushed for magnifying the good and altering the bad of the incumbent.

Houston coach Gary Kubiak’s has been retained as we came to expect starting with the previous week’s Houston Chronicle report. Four defensive assistants, including much maligned defensive coordinator Frank Bush, have been let go. Kubiak is charged with hiring his third defensive coordinator since 2006 and has to hit a home run with it.

He knows he’s got a monstrous degree of faith from owner Bob McNair, one many aren’t so certain he deserves. It sounds like McNair laid out the sort of change he expects and challenged Kubiak, who’s now determined to prove he’s worthy of the endorsement coming off a 6-10, third-place finish.

"We visited and decided on a new direction," Kubiak said. "Obviously, him giving me a chance to move us in that direction, I'm very thankful for that. But I know I've got a lot of work to do and a lot of problems to fix."

I like that tone, but I suspect McNair had underestimated the size of his team's issues and is overly hopeful that it's on a good track.

In Jacksonville, owner Wayne Weaver met with a bunch of players, asked Del Rio to give up control of the defense and offered a playoffs or pink slips ultimatum. Assistants will operate on their remaining one-year contracts.

That’s something I don’t think happens often enough, and should serve as motivation rather than undue pressure. Critics would suggest, as often as Del Rio has altered his staff, they're all only assured of a year at a time on the job. But now we're talking about salaries at stake.

Weaver also spoke about how the team was not too far removed from dismantling the roster when Gene Smith took over as general manager in 2009 and used Smith language as he talked about an “ascending team.”

Del Rio will talk to the media Tuesday.