Houston Texans fire Gary Kubiak, name Wade Phillips interim coach

Gary Kubiak pulled the Texans out of the NFL basement and remains the only coach to take them to the playoffs.

That wasn't enough to save his job, not with the Texans mired in an 11-game skid that has dropped them back to the bottom of the league.

Houston fired Kubiak on Friday, one day after the Texans lost 27-20 at Jacksonville and continued their stunning fall for a team that expected to make a Super Bowl run. Houston (2-11) was flagged 14 times for a franchise-record 177 yards.

The 52-year-old Kubiak was hired in 2006 and led the team to AFC South titles in 2011-2012, the highlights of his eight-year tenure as coach of his hometown NFL team.

The Texans said they couldn't wait any longer to start turning things around, not with the losses and undisciplined play piling up.

"What's taken place with this organization is unacceptable," General Manager Rick Smith said. "We've got three weeks of an evaluation process left and we've got to right the ship."

Kubiak thanked the team for giving him his first head coaching job in the NFL.

"Though we came up short this season, the work, effort and sacrifice they gave me and this organization over the last eight seasons is not to be taken for granted," he said in a statement provided by the Texans. "We had a great run here and we will never forget our back-to-back AFC South championships. Coming back home was a dream come true for all of us. This will always be our home."

Kubiak's overall record is 61-64, with a 2-2 mark in the playoffs. Owner Bob McNair said the decision to let him go was a hard one.

The Texans said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would serve as interim coach for the rest of what has been a miserable season. McNair said NFL and head coaching experience were important factors in filling the job, and that the 66-year-old Phillips will be considered.

Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke Nov. 3 in a frightening scene, collapsing at halftime during a game against the Colts and being rushed to a Houston hospital. He suffered a transient ischemic attack, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is briefly interrupted, typically by a blood clot or narrowed blood vessels. Experts say they are often a warning sign for a future stroke, particularly within three months of a TIA.

Kubiak returned to coach, but the Texans have been unable to rebound from injuries to top players including quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and linebacker Brian Cushing, who was lost for the second straight season.

McNair pointed to messy play and the handling of second-year quarterback Case Keenum as reasons for the move before the end of the season.

Fox will coach from sideline

John Fox will coach the Denver Broncos from the sideline and not the booth upon his return Sunday five weeks after heart surgery.

Fox said he wrestled with the pros and cons of both scenarios.

The booth allows a better view of the game and he would have had direct communication with all his coordinators. Being down on the field allows him to get a better feel for the mood of his team and he can look his players in the eye.

Campbell cleared to start for Browns

Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell, who sat out last week's game because a concussion, has been cleared by an independent neurologist to play and will start on Sunday when the Browns visit New England.

His return is a relief to the Browns, who are also without part-time starter Brandon Weeden because of a concussion and were facing the prospect of starting either quarterback Caleb Hanie or Alex Tanney — both signed in the past week — against the Patriots.

Rodgers won't play

The Green Bay Packers (0-4-1) ruled out star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for their game Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Rodgers hasn't played since he suffered a collarbone injury early in Green Bay's 27-20 loss to Chicago on Nov. 4.

The Packers spent the week preparing Matt Flynn to make a second straight start at quarterback.


The Minnesota Vikings have ruled quarterback Christian Ponder out for Sunday's game at Baltimore.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Friday that Ponder had yet to pass all of his post-concussion tests. Matt Cassel will start and have Josh Freeman backing him up.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson returned to practice Friday after taking the last two days off to rest his sore groin.

The Tennessee Titans could be without tight end Delanie Walker on Sunday when they play the Denver Broncos. Walker did not practice all week because of a concussion sustained early in last week's 22-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Indications are that San Diego Chargers left tackle King Dunlap will return for Sunday's game against the New York Giants after missing three games with a neck injury.

Dunlap's potential return means the Chargers could have their opening day lineup on the offensive line intact for the first time since Sept. 22.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin and cornerback Brandon Browner will both be out for Sunday's game at San Francisco.

Browner has been out since Week 10 with a groin injury suffered against Atlanta, and Harvin continues to deal with soreness in his comeback from hip surgery.

Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant has undergone a successful procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. A Browns spokesman said Bryant had a cardiac ablation on Friday at the Cleveland Clinic. He is expected to make a full recovery and resume his NFL career.

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