Commentary

Bad lessons from a great coach

Gary Kubiak picked up negatives from Mike Shanahan, too -- and it could hurt his D

Originally Published: July 8, 2010
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Amobi OkoyeGetty ImagesAmobi Okoye, seen here sacking Jake Delhomme, can be a vital cog for the Texans -- if Gary Kubiak handles him properly.

In looking at Gary Kubiak's current situation with the Houston Texans, I cannot help but think back to the case of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Austin.

Austin came to Pittsburgh in 1966 with a seemingly perfect résumé. He was a first-round draft choice who spent much of his career playing under the tutelage of Vince Lombardi on New York's dynasty teams of the 1950s. He performed so well that Giants coach Jim Lee Howell called him the finest offensive guard in the league.

Austin moved on from there to coach the Green Bay Packers' offensive line under Lombardi. He did such a superb job that Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney Sr. said he never received a better recommendation than the one Lombardi gave him regarding Austin.

Those accomplishments spoke well for what Austin learned while working for maybe the greatest coach in NFL history, but they also should have passed along a bit of a warning.

Austin picked up a lot of good habits from Lombardi -- but he also picked up some of his negative traits. He leaned too heavily on Lombardi's famous fire-and-brimstone, kick-the-team-in-the-tail motivational techniques, and his players eventually tuned him out because of it. It was said to be one of the main reasons Austin went 11-28-3 in his three seasons as the Steelers' coach.

Kubiak looks as if he could be in much the same boat in what he learned from Mike Shanahan.