TORONTO - It’s at times like these that a guy like Gary Kubiak has to asking himself what he did to deserve all this bad health.
Kubiak is the head coach of the Houston Texans and a guy who is getting far too accustomed to hearing his name when the conversation turns to NFL coach most likely in trouble.
Kubiak was hearing that even after his Texans jumped out to a 2-0 start. It died down a little — in large part due to the increasing number of NFL teams who have been struggling and coaches who were suddenly more vulnerable than Kubiak — but is right back at full volume in light of the most recent bit of bad news.
That would be that Kubiak and the Texans will now be playing the rest of the season without Mario Williams, the converted linebacker from a defensive end who makes this Houston defence the formidable foe that it is.
Williams tore a pectoral muscle in Sunday’s loss to Oakland. An MRI on Monday confirmed the tear thereby ending Williams contributions to the team for the rest of the year.
It was only a week ago that Kubiak learned he would be without the services of his top receiver in Andre Johnson. He dodged a bit of a bullet on that one as Johnson is now saying he’ll miss three games tops, but that’s still three without Matt Schaub’s favourite target. His absence Sunday in the loss to Oakland was definitely noticeable.
Losing Williams for the season is a much, much bigger blow.
Williams had led the Texans in sacks each of the five seasons since they drafted him first overall.
The Texans have stockpiled some depth at the position and will be rewarded with that in the form of another defensive lineman convert to linebacker in Brooks Reed.
The Arizona product looks a lot like a younger Clay Matthews running around out there although he doesn’t come from the middle like the Packers defensive captain.
Both are 6-3, in the 255-pounds area with the long hair flying around as they chase down quarterbacks.
Reed was taken by the Texans in the second round of this past year’s draft and, while learning a new position like Williams was to fit into Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defence, has made progress.
Filling in for Williams on Sunday, Reed had four tackles and two quarterback hits. Williams injured himself making his fifth sack of the season in the first quarter.
Reed has had a couple of months to acclimate himself to the NFL so it’s not like he’ll not know what he’s doing out there.
Unfortunately for the Texans, there are no easy marks on the schedule coming up with Baltimore this week and an improved Tennessee club the following. Both games are on the road.
Kubiak will likely say all the things coaches say when the injury bug starts to bite: “It happens to everyone, next man up” and all those other cliches. Truth be told, no team in the NFL has dealt this season with losing its top offensive and defensive player in back to back weeks.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The celebration in San Francisco after they put a licking on the Tampa Bay Bucs was a little condensed when the team learned that wide receiver Josh Morgan had broken a bone in his lower leg in the dying minutes of the blowout. Morgan was the Niners best blocking receiver. He could be done for the year but the team was not prepared to say that just yet ... Bad sign for the Arizona Cardinals when starting quarterback Kevin Kolb calls out teammates for bad work habits and poor practice habits in wake of a big loss to Minnesota ... Jeremy Shockey made it known he wasn’t too happy about the way he and the New Orleans parted ways in advance of the Saints matchup with his new team the Carolina Panthers. Apparently the Saints’ play-by-play man Jim Henderson took real offence to this using his post-game analysis to label Shockey “a jerk.” ... The Green Bay Packers took a hit on Sunday night as well, losing the services of left tackle Chad Clifton for what head coach Mike McCarthy is calling “weeks.” Bryan Bulaga, who played so well at guard in his rookie season and is coming off the injured list, could help, but it is unclear how comfortable Bulaga would be moving over to tackle ... Move over Joe Nameth and make room for Antonio Pierce. The former Giants linebacker called out both Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck on New York radio on Monday after the pair sat out with what Pierce insinuated were injuries they could play through. Nameth has been calling out the Jets on a regular basis since the season began.