HOUSTON -- Texans coach Gary Kubiak has two Houston football icons in his corner as he faces his uncertain future.
Former Oilers coach Bum Phillips and ex-Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini attended Wednesday's practice and urged Texans owner Bob McNair to retain Kubiak despite the team's nosedive this season.
The Texans (5-10) have lost eight of their past nine games heading into Sunday's season finale at home against Jacksonville (8-7). Kubiak is finishing his fifth season and fans are bombarding local radio shows with calls that he be fired.
After watching practice, the 87-year-old Phillips said the team seemed to still be focused and working hard.
"You're not going to get any better coach than him," Phillips said. "If you can get your team to practice like these kids practiced, the last week of the season, with nothing to look forward to, then believe me, he's got control of the team. He's always been a good coach. You're not going to get any better than Gary Kubiak."
Kubiak was a ball boy for the Oilers when Phillips was the coach and Pastorini was playing in the late 1970s. Pastorini said the Texans have to make "a few tweaks" in the offseason, but seem to be on the right track under Kubiak.
"I think he's a good coach, I think the players love him and respect him," Pastorini said. "I know a lot of people are calling for his head. But I, for one, believe in him. I think he can turn it around. I don't think there's a lot of shaking up needed."
Kubiak has tried to tune out the speculation. He said Monday that he's only focused on Sunday's game and more worried about the fate of his assistant coaches than his own.
On Wednesday, he was almost defiant, vowing that he plans to coach in the NFL for years to come.
"I'm going to do this for a long time," Kubiak said. "I'm a good coach, I've got a lot to give. I know it's part of the business, and when you get yourself into the position I'm in as a head coach, those are things you've got to deal with. So I will deal with them the right way, and I will come out of them a better coach.
"I understand that's part of the deal," he said. "Is it tough? You bet."
Phillips and Pastorini ate lunch with McNair and general manager Rick Smith in the team cafeteria after Wednesday's workout.
The meal may have allowed Phillips to put in a good word for his son, Wade, who was fired by the Dallas Cowboys after the team started 1-7.
The Texans almost certainly will be looking to replace defensive coordinator Frank Bush, regardless of whether Kubiak stays. Houston ranks 29th in total defense (380.6 yards per game) and last against the pass this season (277.1).
Wade Phillips would be one of the most experienced defensive coordinators available, with stints for Denver (1989-92), Buffalo (1995-97) and Atlanta (2002-03) and Dallas (2004-06) before he became the Cowboys' head coach.
Bum Phillips said Wade is eager to get another job.
"Wade doesn't know how to enjoy anything but football," Phillips said. "A lot of people, if they don't have football, they play golf or they gamble a lot, or go fishing. He doesn't care about any of that. All he cares about is football. As long as he feels that way, I'm sure he'll stay in it."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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