December 11, 2006
Take a Knee
by Keith Weiland
Kneeling, it’s such a submissive position, isn’t it?
While Sunday’s overtime loss to the Titans said a lot about the Texans’ decision to pass on Vince Young in last April’s draft, hidden underneath all of the hoopla was an entirely different message. Yes, Young ran 39 yards in overtime to break the hearts of most Houstonians (for one reason or another), but what even allowed for that moment to occur is what tells me all I need to know about how much uncertainty still exists for the future of the Texans.
With 53 seconds left on the clock and the game tied, head coach Gary Kubiak saw his team and his quarterback, David Carr, sitting deep in their own territory, the 7-yard line. Kubiak had a decision to make: Should he put the game on Carr’s back to move the offense into field goal range, or should he cut bait and hope for the best in overtime?
I’m not spoiling anything to tell you that Kubiak chose to have Carr kneel twice and force overtime. Based on reactions of fans both at the game and on the internet, most everyone thought it was a good decision by Kubiak, and my point here is not to apply some 20-20 hindsight on the decision. My point is that Kubiak has accepted his lack of confidence in Carr to carry his team to victory, and Kubiak ought to have a big problem with that.
Carr is no John Elway of course, but hearkening back to his time in Denver, had that been Kubiak on the sideline with Elway under center, does Kubiak ask him to kneel twice to run the clock? Of course not.
No doubt this was a risky situation though. So near the team’s own endzone, one false move – be it a fumble, a sack, or an interception – and the game would have never even reached that fateful bonus quarter.
Overtime, by virtue of its coin flip, offered a fifty percent chance that the Texans would receive the ball, presumably with field position far more favorable than their own 7-yard line. Did Carr have anywhere near those odds of moving the offense into field goal range with 53 seconds remaining? Probably not.
In choosing to kneel, Kubiak also rolled the dice that there would be a fifty percent probability Young and the Titans would receive the ball first. Given his failing confidence in Carr, Kubiak took his chances.
By asking Carr to take bended knee, he stripped from him perhaps his last true opportunity to win back the hearts and minds of Texans fans hoping that Carr might yet be the quarterback for this football team. Kubiak proved on Sunday that he didn’t have enough faith in Carr to even give him that opportunity.
Carr, to his credit, had not really done much to lose the game to that point. He had thrown no interceptions. He had not lost a single fumble. But those two kneeldowns proved that Kubiak has finally shown he no longer trusts the quarterback he once favored over Young.
Through the first 59 minutes and 7 seconds, maybe Carr had done little beyond average to win the game, but with 53 seconds left, Carr should have had that opportunity. What was there to lose for Kubiak? Fifty percent odds of getting tails on the ensuing coin flip? This was a team with just four wins in twelve games. If there was ever a time to test the mettle of your quarterback, this was that time. There was noting but pride and honor on the line for both teams.
Kubiak, as a rookie head coach, is learning every week, and this week’s lesson ought to be how to grab such an opportunity with both hands and make destiny happen. You don’t wield supreme power in the NFL because some watery tart tosses you a whistle and a clipboard. Kubiak didn’t seize these final 53 seconds because he lacked faith in his quarterback. Destiny instead became a coin flip, and then the game’s true king grabbed destiny for himself and ran 39 yards with it to glory.
Yesterday’s message from the overtime loss wasn’t simply that the Texans goofed in passing Young in the draft. Yesterday’s message was that it was time to finally take a knee on Carr’s career in with the Texans.
Keith Weiland believes he should be general manager simply because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at him.
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