HOUSTON — Gary Kubiak pulled the Texans out of the NFL basement and remains the only coach to take them to the playoffs.
That wasn’t enough to save his job, not with the Texans mired in an 11-game skid that has dropped them back to the bottom of the league.
Houston fired Kubiak on Friday, one day after the Texans lost 27-20 at Jacksonville and continued their stunning fall for a team that expected to make a Super Bowl run. Houston (2-11) was flagged 14 times for a franchise-record 177 yards.
The 52-year-old Kubiak was hired in 2006 and led the team to AFC South titles in 2011-12, the highlights of his eight-year tenure as coach of his hometown NFL team.
The Texans said they couldn’t wait any longer to start turning things around, not with the losses and undisciplined play piling up.
“What’s taken place with this organization is unacceptable,” general manager Rick Smith said. “We’ve got three weeks of an evaluation process left and we’ve got to right the ship.”
Kubiak thanked the team for giving him his first head coaching job in the NFL.
“Though we came up short this season, the work, effort and sacrifice they gave me and this organization over the last eight seasons is not to be taken for granted,” he said in a statement provided by the Texans. “We had a great run here and we will never forget our back-to-back AFC South championships. Coming back home was a dream come true for all of us. This will always be our home.”
Kubiak’s overall record is 61-64, with a 2-2 mark in the playoffs. Owner Bob McNair said the decision to let him go was a hard one.
“It was difficult for me because I think so much of Gary,” McNair said. “We’ve been evaluating it every game and asking the question, ‘What’s in the best interest of the organization?’ We’re at the point now where we need to go ahead and make some changes because losing like this is unacceptable.”
He added: “We’re here to have a winning culture and this year has not contributed to that.”
The Texans said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would serve as interim coach for the rest of what has been a miserable season. McNair said NFL and head coaching experience were important factors in filling the job, and that the 66-year-old Phillips will be considered.
Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke Nov. 3 in a frightening scene, collapsing at halftime during a game against the Colts and being rushed to a Houston hospital. He suffered a transient ischemic attack, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is briefly interrupted, typically by a blood clot or narrowed blood vessels. Experts say they are often a warning sign for a future stroke, particularly within three months of a TIA.
Kubiak returned to coach, but the Texans have been unable to rebound from injuries to top players including quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and linebacker Brian Cushing, who was lost for the second straight season.
Fox decides to coach from sideline
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Fox will coach the Denver Broncos from the sideline and not the booth upon his return Sunday five weeks after heart surgery.
Fox said he wrestled with the pros and cons of both scenarios.
The booth allows a better view of the game and he would have had direct communication with all his coordinators. Being down on the field allows him to get a better feel for the mood of his team and he can look his players in the eye.
Withstanding two days of practice in temperatures around zero degrees this week helped convince Fox and his doctors that he’d be able to handle Sunday’s forecast of snow and temperatures in the teens when the Broncos (10-2) host the Tennessee Titans (5-7).
Levy, Weatherspoon each fined $15,750
NEW YORK — Three linebackers — Detroit’s DeAndre Levy, Atlanta’s Sean Weatherspoon and Green Bay’s Clay Matthews — each have been fined $15,750 by the NFL for on-field incidents.
Levy was fined for a helmet-first hit on Packers tight end Ryan Taylor on Thanksgiving Day. He was penalized for unnecessary roughness, and the league fined him Friday.
From the same game, Matthews was punished for a helmet hit.
Weatherspooon was docked for leading with his helmet and driving into the chest of Bills quarterback EJ Manuel.
Browns’ Bryant has heart procedure
BEREA, Ohio — Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant has undergone a successful procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.
Bryant’s season ended with four games left because of a rapid heartbeat, a condition he has known about for several years and been treated for in the past. A Browns spokesman said Bryant had a cardiac ablation on Friday at the Cleveland Clinic. Bryant is expected to make a full recovery and resume his NFL career.
Bryant was one of Cleveland’s biggest offseason acquisitions, signing a five-year, $34 million contract in March.
He finished with 3½ sacks and 45 tackles in 12 games.
By wire sources