Head coach Gary Kubiak has a new three-year contract that lasts through the 2012 season. Four years after inheriting a team that went a league-worst 2-14 in 2005, Kubiak guided Houston to a four-game winning streak to close out 2009, giving the team a franchise-best 9-7 finish.
Since the Texans' season finale against the New England Patriots, numerous players have spoken out about their confidence in Kubiak. Across the board, players have said they're happy to hear about his return.
"I'm excited about that," running back Steve Slaton said in a Wednesday live chat on HoustonTexans.com. "Coach Kubiak has played this game before, and he's a true players coach."
Kubiak, who's gone 6-10, 8-8, 8-8 and 9-7 in the four seasons since taking over in 2006, has helped build an offense that boasted the NFL's leading passer and receiver last year in Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Kubiak is looking to continue that offensive success and much more in 2010 and beyond.
"I want to finish what I started," Kubiak said. "We've still got a long, long way to go, but I'm enjoying it. We've got a big-time challenge coming ahead this year, schedule-wise, and our division will always be a challenge, but I think we've got the right group of guys to do it and I'm very excited about our young football team."
Schaub played a full complement of games in 2009, starting all 16 and shredding opposing secondaries to the tune of a league-best 4,770 yards. He, too, was rewarded after the season when McNair said the Texans would pick up Schaub's contract option, and Kubiak's new deal is meaningful to Schaub as well.
"No question, it's huge to know that he's going to be here," Schaub said. "He's our coach and he's the guy that brought us all here in the locker room and put us together and assembled this team. We're going to keep fighting for him just like he fights for us."
Kubiak's support system from the players isn't just limited to the offensive side of the ball. Defensive captain DeMeco Ryans was the second pick in Kubiak's inaugural 2006 draft class. The linebacker thinks Kubiak and the continuity he brings is vital to success in the future for Houston.
"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 – very important," Ryans said. "He's the reason why guys come out and play the way they do. He's the leader, and 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 Coach Kubiak."
For 29 Texans who played in 2009 and are still on the roster or on injured reserve, Kubiak is the only coach they've known as professionals. Right tackle Eric Winston, like Ryans, emerged from the 2006 draft class to become a starter, and he's encouraged by Kubiak's impact on the club.
"That means the world to, I think, a lot of guys," Winston said of Kubiak. "He's a guy that by the way he treats us and by the way he conducts his meetings and practices, I think he has respect for us, and that means a lot to a lot of players and that's something that's very important to me.
"I think sometimes this year, he would always step in front of the bullet for us, and a lot of times this year, I think we let him down. We stepped up big for him down this last stretch and I think that was important, but we need to come out and play like that all the time, not just for him but for each other, and I think that's something that will also carry on next year."
Before arriving in Houston in 2007, tight end Joel Dreessen started his NFL career with the Jets in New York. Like other Texans players, Dreessen is thankful about Kubiak's return.
"It means a great deal to me," Dreessen said in a live chat in late January. "Having played for two other head coaches in the NFL (Eric Mangini and Herm Edwards), Coach Kubiak is by far one of the best men I've ever played for. He treats his players with class and respect, while maintaining a standard of winning that we all strive to achieve."