Gary Kubiak stays, Frank Bush out

Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak walks the sideline in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 31-17. (AP Photo/John Russell)

January 3, 2011 3:24:43 PM PST
The Houston Texans are sticking with coach Gary Kubiak. T he Texans said Monday that Kubiak will return next season, despite another lackluster year that ended without a playoff berth.

But the team made wholesale defensive staff changes, firing coordinator Frank Bush, secondary coach David Gibbs, linebackers coach Johnny Holland and assistant linebackers coach Robert Saleh. The Texans (6-10) lost eight of their last 10 games, mostly due to a defense that gave up a league-high 4,280 yards passing along with 33 touchdown passes, tied with Dallas for the most.

Kubiak acknowledged that he felt "very, very fortunate" to be spared.

The Texans are 37-43 in his five seasons, and the franchise is still seeking its first playoff appearance. The best Kubiak has done so far is guide the Texans to a 9-7 mark in 2009, the only winning record in the team's nine seasons of existence.

Speculation has swirled for a week that owner Bob McNair is interested in meeting with fired Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, who's been a defensive coordinator most of his career. Bum Phillips, Wade's father and the former Houston Oilers coach, showed up at Texans practice last week and chatted with McNair, sparking speculation that his son would be joining the team.

Three weeks ago, McNair offered a vote of confidence for Kubiak after the team rallied from 21 points down to tie -- but eventually lose -- a Monday night game to Baltimore.

"We're very close to having the kind of team I think we can all be proud of," McNair said then. The owner also promised to make changes at season's end, and that started with firing Bush, a Kubiak assistant since 2007.

Bush seemed resigned to his fate after the final practice of the season on Friday.

"I've got to go out and try to find a way to sell myself to another organization," Bush said. "I'll stay positive, I'll stay upbeat, I'll keep believing in the things I do. Quite frankly, I felt like we had the right approach. Things didn't work out, but I'll stay positive about the whole situation and keep moving forward."

Bush was promoted to defensive coordinator after the Texans finished 8-8 in 2008. The Texans' defense played well over the final 13 games of 2009, giving up 19 points and 84 yards rushing in that span.

But the unit was bad from the start this season, yielding 410.5 yards through the first six games. The Texans only started 4-2 because the offense topped 30 points in each of the victories.

Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans ruptured his Achilles tendon in the sixth game, and the defense never got better.

Kubiak was also hurt by his preseason decision to start rookie Kareem Jackson and second-year pro Glover Quin at cornerback. Houston's secondary was beaten repeatedly on long pass plays, most critically in the fourth quarter.

The pass rush was also an issue all year.

Defensive end Mario Williams had 8 1/2 sacks through the first 13 games, but then went on injured reserve with a sports hernia. Houston had 30 sacks to rank 23rd in the league.

A few players wandered through Reliant Stadium on Monday to meet with Kubiak and clean out their lockers. They offered differing opinions on why the season unraveled, and expected defensive coaches to lose their jobs.

"We're at a point that a lot of people didn't think we would get to," said safety Bernard Pollard, who is a free agent. "Now, they're questioning, 'OK, can this coaching staff get it done? Can this coordinator get it done? Can this head coach be the man?' We're at that point."