Earlier today, Hanzus touched on Gary Kubiak's latest challenge down in Houston. After the Texans tasted the playoffs last season, Kubiak sees a team needing to be tweaked and motivated in different ways than before.
Here in 2012, we don't doubt Kubiak's ability to prepare the Texans for September, but it wasn't long ago he was on the hot seat. His first five seasons in Houston produced zero postseason trips and a listless string of 8-8 finishes that raised questions about his ability to get the team over the hump.
It brings up the question: Who is this year's Kubiak? We're not necessarily talking about a first-time playoff entry, but a coach about to reward his team's faith after an ugly 2011.
Three names come to mind:
1. Andy Reid: The NFL's longest-tenured head coach has tasted plenty of success during his run with the Philadelphia Eagles, but very little gold was spun last season. Whispers about Reid's dismissal ran rampant during an 8-8 campaign low-lighted by a rash of embarrassing losses and heat-seeking fan signage calling for Reidâs head. He's rebounded this offseason with his power and voice intact inside the organization, and we believe the Eagles are set to make waves in the NFC East. Starting over would have been a mistake in Philly.
2. Norv Turner: Against the wishes of most living beings in San Diego, Norv Turner was retained by the Chargers. The biggest concern here is the answer to the question "What's changed?" Not enough, perhaps, for a team that wandered far from center in 2011. But you've still got Philip Rivers, a quarterback 70 percent of the league would take as its starter today over what they have. Bottom line: Norv is a survivor.
3. Mike Shanahan: Remove John Elway from Mike Shanahan's career, and you quickly learn what a fire-starter under center means to any coach's tenure. Shanahan spent two seasons in Washington trying to convince a beguiled fan base that Rex Grossman and John Beck were the answer at quarterback. Total whiff, but if Robert Griffin III emerges, Shanahan could have the Redskins faithful torching Heath Shuler jerseys in the streets -- just for a laugh.
Last season was a rough ride for all three of these men. We believe they're about to reward their employers for keeping the finger off the trigger.
Naturally, you disagree. Who did we miss?