Texans fire first and only coach Capers

Updated: January 3, 2006, 7:57 AM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- The worst season in Houston Texans history cost Dom Capers his job.

Owner Bob McNair fired the only coach the expansion Texans ever had Monday, a day after Houston finished its season with an NFL-worst 2-14 record.

Dom Capers' NFL head coaching career
Panthers Texans
Seasons '95-'98 '02-'05
W-L 30-34 18-46
Playoff trips 1* 0
*Reached NFC title game

"I'm totally committed to producing a winning team and I'm going to do everything within my power to see that we do that," McNair said. "I think that we're very close to being a good team, but we have work to do."

The Texans, who hired former NFL coach Dan Reeves as a consultant last month, will keep general manager Charley Casserly. On Monday, McNair reiterated his assertion that Reeves is not a candidate to be the next coach.

Houston's season ended Sunday with a 20-17 overtime loss in San Francisco that gave the Texans the worst mark in their four-year history and the No. 1 pick in April's draft.

"I think that we've underachieved this season," McNair said. "I think that everyone expected us to do more."

Capers had one year remaining on a five-year contract worth $9.5 million.

"I understand the job as the head football coach is to win games," Capers said. "But when you put your heart and soul into something and it doesn't work the way you want it or anticipate it to, it's disappointing."

The firing marks the second time the 55-year-old Capers has been released from an expansion team in its fourth season. He was let go by the Carolina Panthers in 1998.

His plan for building the team worked well until this season. The Texans won seven games last season after winning five in 2003 and four in their first season. Houston stunned Dallas in the franchise's first game in 2002.

Capers informed the team of his firing in a meeting several hours before McNair made the official announcement.

"It was emotional; it was difficult," offensive lineman Steve McKinney said of the morning meeting. "I felt sorry for him."

Veteran defensive end Gary Walker said he is sad to see Capers go, but isn't worried about the future of his former coach.

"Dom will have another job within a month," Walker said. "He'll be a defensive coordinator somewhere. With the right people around him, he could do some amazing things."

Houston opened this season 0-6 before beating Cleveland, then losing six more. The Texans defeated Arizona and then lost their last two games.

McNair said he decided to keep Casserly because after looking at draft picks and other personnel decisions he thought that "we made a lot more good decisions than bad decisions."

Capers was hailed as an expansion wizard after leading Carolina to seven wins in its first season and the NFC title game in the team's second year in 1996, when he was NFL Coach of the Year.

Things went downhill from there, and Capers was fired after the Panthers went 4-12 in 1998. He worked for two years as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars before he was hired by the Texans in January 2001.

"You have to be careful and stay with your step-by-step program," Capers said at the time. "Then, you have to have the courage to stick with it and not sacrifice the future for the quick fix."

His first pro job came when he joined Jim Mora's staff with Philadelphia in the USFL. Capers made it to the NFL in 1986 when he went with Mora to New Orleans. He became defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh in 1992 before he was hired in Carolina in 1995.

McNair said when he hired Reeves he wanted an outside voice to evaluate the organization. Reeves went to four Super Bowls in 23 seasons as a head coach, mostly recently with Atlanta after the 1998 season.

McNair said that he's asked permission to interview several people and he hopes to have the interviews concluded by the end of this month.

Denver coach Mike Shanahan said the Texans owner contacted him Monday for permission to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Kubiak played quarterback at Texas A&M, where he later served as an assistant coach.

Kubiak is hot again, though, thanks to Denver's 13-3 record and an offense ranked fifth in the NFL. And the number of openings helps his cause in attempting to take the next step as a head coach.

"If [teams are] smart, he'll get one of those jobs," Shanahan said. "I'm just hoping they're not smart enough to hire him."

Kubiak was not immediately available for comment.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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