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Kubiak preparing for Shanahan's likely departure


A day after the Texans completed the first winning in their eight-year history, the future of the team's coaching staff was a hot topic of discussion at Reliant Stadium.

As players cleaned out their lockers in the morning, they were asked about owner Bob McNair's proclamation that Gary Kubiak will be back as the Texans' head coach next season.

The decision met with unanimous approval.

"That's what we needed," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "We definitely need Coach Kub back. If we expect to keep improving as a team, as an organization, I think having that consistency with Coach Kubiak as the head coach is very important.

"He's the reason why guys come out and play the way they do. He's the leader. He's the one that gets everyone going and he's the guy that makes it all work. He's a special coach, and I love playing for (him)."

It's now all but certain that Kubiak will lead the Texans next season without the help of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan will join the coaching staff of his father, Mike Shanahan, if he is hired by an NFL team this offseason.

Mike Shanahan is meeting with Redskins officials today in Washington and is expected to soon be named the team's next head coach.

"Nothing's official yet, but obviously it looks like Mike's coming right back into the business here real quick, and I know it's something he's always wanted, to have his son work for him," Kubiak said. "I know I'd be the same way, so I understand that."

Kyle Shanahan directed the league's fourth-ranked offense and top-rated passing attack this season. The Texans scored more points (388) and had more total yards (6,129) than ever before in team history.

"It's going to be very hard to leave because of everything we've accomplished," Shanahan said to the Houston Chronicle. "I work with a lot of good people, but I've always wanted to work with my dad. If he comes back, I think the timing will be right."

Shanahan's departure would leave the Texans looking for their fourth offensive coordinator in five seasons. Troy Calhoun (2006) was hired away to be the head coach at Air Force, and Mike Sherman (2007) left to coach at Texas A&M before Shanahan's tenure from 2008-09.

The youngest coordinator in the league, Shanahan was the Texans' receivers coach in 2006 and quarterbacks coach in 2007.

"He's done a heck of a job," Kubiak said. "He's really matured… He has come a long, long way, and he's going to be special. I think he'll be a head coach in this league very quickly.

"Now, him and his dad get to go do battle. I'd like to be a fly on the wall for that one."

Whoever replaces Shanahan must have the full confidence of Kubiak, a former offensive coordinator who puts his stamp on the Texans' game plan each week. The first time Kubiak let Shanahan call a game was in the 2008 season finale, 16 games into his tenure as offensive coordinator.

"I want somebody with me that I'm comfortable with calling plays," Kubiak said. "I want to get them to the same point that I am with Kyle and that I was with the other guys, where I can say, 'Hey, go ahead. If I don't like something, I'm going to jump in.' We have to be that close and on the same page."

Another area of uncertainty is the future of veteran assistant coaches Alex Gibbs and Ray Rhodes, who have a combined 54 seasons of NFL coaching experience.

"We're going to do some evaluation right now and I'm going to give these guys a break," Kubiak said. "They need to get away for a little bit, and then we'll come back and make some of those decisions."

Gibbs directs the Texans' running game as the assistant head coach/offense. Rhodes offers input to defensive coordinator Frank Bush as the team's senior defensive assistant. Both came out of retirement to join the Texans' coaching staff in 2008.

"They've obviously been a big help to me," Kubiak said. "I like having veteran coaches on my staff. I like having guys that have been through a lot more battles than I have that I can pull from. And so I really appreciate the job that both of them have done, and we'll see. We'll see where we're at here in a couple of weeks."

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