Minutes after news broke that Gary Kubiak had been fired Friday after seven-plus seasons as Houston Texans coach, team owner Bob McNair held a news conference to commend Kubiak and announce the search for his replacement is underway.
"I want to thank Gary Kubiak," McNair said. "He has brought this team to a new level. He has put his whole being into it."
Sitting at a dais with chief operating officer Cal McNair and general manager Rick Smith, McNair said the organization has been "disappointed" and "shocked" by the Texans' 2-11 meltdown in 2013.
McNair said Case Keenum will remain the team's starting quarterback for the duration of the season, while Wade Phillips again will assume interim duties with an interview for the permanent job to follow.
Some other takeaways from Friday's media session:
» Kubiak intimated Thursday night that Matt Schaub was an option to stay behind center. You can forget that now. "Case is going to be the quarterback and we're going to give him a chance," McNair said. Kubiak benched Keenum twice in the past three weeks.
» McNair said he's looking for a replacement with prior NFL head-coaching experience. Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith's name came up as a possibility, though Houston intends to cast a wide net. "It's based more on the individual," McNair said. "We're looking for a coach who's bright, ethical, innovative and is able to make adjustments."
» Read the last part of that quote again. It sure feels like a cringe-worthy shot at Kubiak.
» McNair believes the Texans can be turned around quickly: "This is not a long-term rebuilding process -- I want to make that clear. We've got core players who are outstanding players and we still need to fill a few holes. We had some injuries that hurt us at key positions in terms of leadership on the field. We have some things that we need to do, but we still got a good core group of players that can make for an outstanding team."
» The fact that Rick Smith was on the dais is notable. McNair made several allusions to the quality talent on the roster, talent acquired by Smith during his run as general manager. It appears very likely Smith will get to select his first coach to lead the franchise. (Kubiak was hired six months before Smith was elevated to GM in 2006.)
» The last straw for McNair? Not surprisingly, it was Thursday night's loss to the Jaguars. McNair told reporters the Texans had "a lot better talent" than the Jaguars. "They played harder, they played smarter and that's not acceptable to us to have some team beat us on that basis."