Gary Kubiak pulled the Texans out of the NFL basement and remains the only coach to take them to the playoffs.
That was not enough to save his job, not with the Texans mired in an 11-game skid that has dropped them back to the bottom of the league.
Houston fired Kubiak on Friday, one day after the Texans lost 27-20 at Jacksonville and continued their stunning fall for a team that expected to make a Super Bowl run. Houston (2-11) was flagged 14 times for a franchise-record 177 yards.
The 52-year-old Kubiak was hired in 2006 and led the team to AFC South titles in 2011-2012, the highlights of his eight-year tenure as coach of his hometown NFL team.
The Texans said they couldn't wait any longer to start turning things around, not with the losses and undisciplined play piling up.
"What's taken place with this organization is unacceptable," general manager Rick Smith said. "We've got three weeks of an evaluation process left and we've got to right the ship."
Kubiak thanked the team for giving him his first head coaching job in the NFL.
"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," he said in a statement provided by the Texans. "We had a great run here and we will never forget our back-to-back AFC South championships. Coming back home was a dream come true for all of us. This will always be our home."
Kubiak's overall record is 61-64, with a 2-2 mark in the playoffs.
The Texans said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would serve as interim coach for the rest of what has been a miserable season.
Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke Nov. 3 in a frightening scene, collapsing at halftime during a game against the Colts and being rushed to a Houston hospital.
Around the league
Broncos • John Fox will coach Denver from the sideline and not the booth upon his return Sunday five weeks after heart surgery Withstanding two days of practice in temperatures around zero degrees this week helped convince Fox and his doctors that he'd be able to handle Sunday's forecast of snow and temperatures in the teens when the Broncos host the Tennessee Titans.
Seahawks • Receiver Percy Harvin and cornerback Brandon Browner will both be out for Sunday's game at San Francisco. Browner has been out since Week 10 with a groin injury suffered against Atlanta, while Harvin continues to deal with soreness in his comeback from hip surgery.
Vikings • Minnesota has ruled Christian Ponder out for Sunday's game at Baltimore because the quarterback has not yet passed all of his post-concussion tests. Matt Cassel will start in his place.
Browns • Quarterback Jason Campbell has been cleared to play after sitting out one game with a concussion and will start on Sunday at New England.
Week 14 schedule
Atlanta at Green Bay, 11 a.m.
Minnesota at Baltimore, 11 a.m.
Kansas City at Washington, 11 a.m.
Buffalo at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m.
Miami at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m.
Detroit at Philadelphia, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
Indianapolis at Cincinnati, 11 a.m.
Cleveland at New England, 11 a.m.
Oakland at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m.
Tennessee at Denver, 2:05 p.m., Ch. 2
Seattle at San Francisco, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13
N.Y. Giants at San Diego, 2:25 p.m.
St. Louis at Arizona, 2:25 p.m.
Carolina at New Orleans, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Dallas at Chicago, 6:40 p.m., ESPN