The Houston Texans are heading to Super Bowl 50….well sort of. The actual Houston Texans team itself that plays its games at NRG Stadium is not going to be in San Francisco come February 7, 2016 but several former players and coaches will be thanks to the generosity of Houston general manager Rick Smith. Players and coaches deemed useless to an organization that has yet to get past the divisional round of the playoffs since the team’s inception in 2002. Players and coaches cast away like driftwood in the open sea now reaching the professional shores built for the game’s best of the best.
Most notable castaways are former head coach Gary Kubiak and former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Kubiak, you will remember was sent packing after general manager Rick Smith left him with pick six expert Matt Schaub instead of future Hall of Fame signal caller Peyton Manning. Phillips followed shortly after when his service was no longer required by incoming head coach Bill O’Brien. The two reunited in Denver with Manning and are now preparing for Super Bowl 50. Along with Kubiak and Phillips will be offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp, tight end coach Brian Pariani, assistant wide receivers coach Marc Lubick, offensive line coach Bill Kollar, and linebackers coach Reggie Herring.
Tight end Owen Daniels left when Houston felt what’s his name…oh yeah Garrett Graham was a better choice. Houston took Graham over the franchise’s second all-time receiver in yards, receptions and touchdowns. In the two seasons since leaving, the veteran tight end has 94 receptions, 1044 yards and seven regular season touchdowns. Graham meanwhile has appeared in 19 games with 22 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive end Antonio Smith was another player Rick Smith didn’t think fit on the Texans team. Smith had to go so that the general manager who also let defensive end Mario Williams go could draft Jadaveon Clowney. The aging defensive end has had five and a half sacks since leaving Houston Clowney after only making it into four games in his rookie season nearly matched Smith’s two year sack production in his second year recording four and a half sacks so we give Smith the general manager a wash on that move.
Next up offensive tackle Ryan Harris. The 30 year old has started 31 of 32 games between stops in Kansas City and Denver since his Houston departure in 2013. Expected to challenge Derek Newton for a roster spot on an injury plagued line at the time, Smith decided to let him walk.
Former Houston center James Ferentz is the next one on the list. Undrafted out of Iowa in 2014 by the Texans, Houston decided he wasn’t NFL material and let him go and now he finds himself on the AFC Champion Denver Broncos one season later.
Shiloh Keo is the last of the former Texans to find themselves on the Denver Broncos roster. Keo couldn’t stick with the Texans despite being a regular for Phillips Texans defense. Keo was signed by Denver late in the season to give the Broncos secondary some added depth.
So by my count that is eight coaches and five players that just two seasons ago were deemed worthless by Rick Smith and now all are totgether again in Denver and heading to the Super Bowl. Should Kubiak and company win Super Bowl 50, they should vote a winners share of the money to Texans general manager Rick Smith.