What to Do, What to Do…

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August 25, 2006
What to Do, What to Do…

by Ric Sweeney

When Bob McNair met with Gary Kubiak to discuss the team’s vacant head coaching position, he likely had only one thing on his mind. And it wasn’t Kubiak’s five-year plan or the former Denver assistant’s intimate knowledge of the zone blocking scheme. He certainly didn’t care whether Kubiak preferred Reggie Bush to Vince Young or had some other prospect in mind. Not yet, anyway.

No, what McNair wanted to know had burned a hole through his offseason and haunted him most of last year. It was the same question he had asked many others previously, from Dan Reeves and Charley Casserly likely all the way down to the kid sacking his groceries at the local HEB. The same question that had dotted each and every move the team made this offseason after closing the book on their 2-14 year; the same question that Texan fans have been asking for years:

Was David Carr capable of leading this team to a Super Bowl?

We pause momentarily to consider the quagmire such a query created for Kubiak. On the one hand, McNair was offering the potential new head coach the chance to wipe the slate clean, granting Kubiak both leeway and much-needed space to rebuild a broken team from scratch. But in choosing that route, Kubiak would be selling his skills as a supposed offensive genius short, something McNair might view unfavorably. “Yes” undoubtedly would have spoken of the man’s hubris, but Kubiak would then been forced to walk that talk – and if he was wrong about Carr, or merely providing an answer he thought would placate McNair in order to get him the job, it could make his first gig as an NFL head coach a short one.

What to do, what to do.

As we now know, Kubiak looked McNair in the eye and confirmed that yes, indeed, Carr was the man. We don’t yet know if he had his fingers crossed. To assuage McNair’s fears, and perhaps quell his own, Kubiak painstakingly broke down film; presented a plan for moving forward, and stood by the most maligned player in franchise history, becoming the first member of the organization to ever do so. The ink was still drying on his brand new contract when Kubiak first made contact with Carr; he hasn’t left his side since. Kubiak has jumped into Carr’s head and tried to strip away everything he’s ever known; like Oscar from the Six Million Dollar Man, he was going to rebuild him.

It was noble; heroic. It was hard not to root for both of them. But could it ultimately be Kubiak’s undoing?

Because here we are, eight quarters into arguably the most important preseason in the team’s history and the best quarterback on this team thus far is Sage Rosenfels, not David Carr. And frankly, it’s really not even close.

What to do, what to do…

Oh sure, it’s only preseason – no one’s reading too much into anything right now (mainly because we’re conveniently ignoring all the signs last year’s supposedly meaningless preseason performance eventually predicted). And no, I don’t think Sage Rosenfels is Tom Brady in red, white and Texan blue. But then again, this isn’t really about Rosenfels anyway. He could go Joe Montana on us for all we care and it wouldn’t make an ounce of difference if Carr wasn’t busy going… well, David Carr on us.

For all the work and coaching Carr has gotten since Kubiak came on board, he still looks exactly the same as he has the past several years. When rushed, he still gets flustered, still looks panicked; still makes poor decisions. When upright and actually passing, he still locks in on his primary target; still throws into coverage; still can’t seem to consistently move the team downfield.

And so, if eight quarters from now, form holds, Kubiak is stuck in another unenviable predicament. Does he dare bench the $8M investment McNair made in Carr on Kubiak’s recommendation? If not, does he risk the ire of Texan fans, not to mention his own job security, by trotting Carr out there week after week if he proves not to be the best man for the job?

Which does not mean I, or anyone else, should give up on Carr. The guy’s been through hell the past four years. I want him to succeed; you should, too.

But how long is the leash? If he’s not appreciably better by, say, the team’s bye… or maybe midseason… when, officially does the David Carr era take a backseat to the winning era? And if he can’t solve these issues…oh, by yesterday, then Kubiak may very well have jumped from one conundrum to an entirely new conundrum.

What to do, what to do…

Ric Sweeney does not have the Oscar doll among his collection.

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