(Reuters) - Gary Kubiak became the first coaching casualty of the National Football League’s (NFL) 2013 season when the Houston Texans fired him on Friday with the team in the midst of a franchise-record 11-game losing streak.
The decision comes a day after Houston lost to Jacksonville and fell to an NFL-worst 2-11, a huge swing from last season when they went 12-4 and won the AFC South Division.
“This has been a very disappointing year,” said Texans chief executive Bob McNair. “We started with such high hopes. To have this string of losses is unacceptable.”
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will serve as interim coach for the Texans’ final three games of the 2013 season, the team said in a statement.
With Kubiak’s departure, Bob Ligashesky was promoted from special teams assistant to special teams coordinator, replacing Joe Marciano who was sacked.
Houston entered the 2013 NFL season with high hopes and were considered a Super Bowl contender by some given a mix of high-profile names at several positions, a veteran coaching staff and a reputation as a legitimate AFC powerhouse following division titles the prior two seasons.
But after opening the campaign with a pair of wins, Houston fell apart due to a combination of unsteady play at quarterback and injuries to key players, including tight end Owen Daniels and running back Arian Foster.
Kubiak, who went 61-64 during the regular season and 2-2 in the playoffs since taking the head coaching job in 2006, missed time earlier this season after collapsing at halftime during a game last month.
He was diagnosed as having suffered a mini-stroke and missed one game before working the following two contests from the booth. Kubiak returned to the sidelines on December 1.
“I want to thank Bob McNair and his family for giving me my first head coaching opportunity in the National Football League,” Kubiak said in a statement.
”Bob has treated me with the utmost class and respect throughout my career with the Texans. I want to thank the players and coaches for all the work they have put in during my years with the Texans.
“Though we came up short this season, the work, effort and sacrifice they gave me and this organization over the last eight seasons is not to be taken for granted. I want to wish them all the best.”
Phillips, who was named Houston’s defensive coordinator ahead of the 2011 season, has an 82-60 record as a head coach during stints with New Orleans, Denver, Buffalo, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston.
When he filled in for Kubiak earlier this season, the Texans held a 17-14 halftime lead over the Arizona Cardinals but could only muster 41 yards in the final two quarters en route to a 27-24 loss.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and Mark Lamport-Stokes in Thousand Oaks, California; Editing by Gene Cherry