He started the season with a solid starting quarterback, an all-star linebacker, and the best wide-receiver in the NFL. He also started with a defense that was coming out of the cellar – just last season they were ranked 30th overall in the league for defense (13th in rushing, 32nd in passing).
By the end of the 2011 regular season he was missing his starting quarterback, missing his all-star linebacker, and for most of the season was without the best wide-receiver in the league.
However, by the end of the 2011 season Coach Gary Kubiak, of the Houston Texans, finished with the 13th best offense and the 2nd best defense in the league. He was supported, offensively, by RB Arian Foster and Ben Tate who combined for 2,166 rushing yards.
Defensively, Coach Kubiak leaned heavily upon the experience and leadership of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips, with his defensive prowess, helped breathe life into the Texans defense. By the time the Texans had finished their post-season run there was no doubt left in anyone’s mind whom the best defense in the league was…led by the outstanding linebacker corps (aka “The Bulls on Parade”).
So…what did all of this amount to?
This all amounted to Coach Gary Kubiak being named the 2011 AFC Coach of the Year for the NFL 101 Awards. While I have been rather speculative of Kubiak, hesitant to heap praise on him too early in the season, I can happily concur with the decision of this outcome. Coach Kubiak had been dealt a full deck of cards, was shorted the majority of the face cards, and still ended up winning a majority of the pot. While it would be easy to assume that Coach Kubiak would not be named for this award without the presence of Wade Phillips it was not Phillips who was responsible for the entire team.
Coach Kubiak did an outstanding job of using the players that he had available and making the most of it. The “Next Man Up” was the battlecry of the Texans this season and it is Coach Kubiak’s time to be that man.
Congratulations, Coach Kubiak, on an honor well-deserved – 2011 AFC Coach of the Year!