McCarthy, Starr and ... Kubiak?

With the help of Len Pasquarelli, we link together on-the-hot-seat Texans coach with Super Bowl champion Mike McCarthy and Bart Starr.

The NFL coaching carousel was especially busy following the 2005 regular season.

A whopping 10 coaches were hired during that offseason. With Brad Childress' dismissal in Minnesota late last season, only three remain with their team: Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, Sean Payton in New Orleans and Gary Kubiak with Houston. McCarthy won Super Bowl XLV and Payton won Super Bowl XLIV. Kubiak, on the other hand, will be under intense scrutiny during the upcoming season.

Kubiak is going into his sixth season with the Texans, has never qualified for the playoffs and has only one winning record, despite being a chic playoff pick each of the past couple years. Only three other coaches in modern NFL history -- Bart Starr (Green Bay), Jack Patera (Seattle) and Norv Turner (Washington) -- failed to earn a postseason berth in their first five seasons with their teams and returned for a sixth year.

There were a lot of pundits who suggested near the end of last season that Houston owner Bob McNair would give Kubiak the pointed-toe boot, and it didn't happen. In essence, Kubiak got a mulligan.

It will be interesting to see if McNair is as patient, and grants Kubiak a do-over, if the Texans don't carve out a playoff spot in 2011. Even in the midst of a news slowdown because of the lockout, there are some rumblings McNair won't be as understanding.

Kubiak made headlines this week because he and Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt will travel to the Persian Gulf to visit U.S. troops there. It's a tremendous gesture on Kubiak's part, but goodwill might not be enough to overcome a bad record in 2011.

There's a pretty good link between Kubiak and the aforementioned Starr to explain their playoff futility: Only once in Kubiak's tenure, his first season of 2006, have the Texans failed to rank in the top half of the NFL offensively; and they have been in the top four each of the past three seasons. Only once since Kubiak became coach, though, has Houston rated higher than 22nd on defense. The team brought in Wade Phillips to fix a unit that was rated No. 30 in 2010, and he could be Kubiak's salvation.

While Houston features a high-flying offense with quarterback Matt Schaub and receiver Andre Johnson, it was the same story for Starr's Packers with Lynn Dickey at quarterback and James Lofton leading a brilliant group of pass-catchers. In Starr's final year, the Packers ranked fifth in the league in offense but a last-ranked 28th in defense. Only once did he have an offense and defense that ranked in the top half of the league: the strike-shortened 1982 season in which Starr led the team to the playoffs in his eighth season in Green Bay and for the only time in his nine seasons on the job.

McCarthy, too, was on the hot seat. Then he hired coordinator Dom Capers, added B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews with first-round draft picks, and watched his defense soar from 20th in 2008 and second in 2009.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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