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NFL-Worst Texans Fire Coach Dom Capers

January 2, 2006

HOUSTON (AP) _ Dom Capers was fired as coach of the Houston Texans on Monday, one day after the team finished with the league’s worst record.

Owner Bob McNair made the announcement several hours after Capers told the players at a morning meeting that he had been let go.

The Texans, who hired former NFL coach Dan Reeves as a consultant last month, will keep general manager Charley Casserly.

``We want to see improvement every year. That didn’t happen this year,″ McNair said. ``I thought it was in the best interest of the team to let Dom Capers go.″

Houston’s season ended Sunday with a 20-17 overtime loss in San Francisco that left the Texans with a 2-14 record _ the worst in the team’s four-season history.

Capers had one year remaining on a five-year contract worth $9.5 million.

``Our responsibility was to win football games, and we made good strides the first three seasons, but we didn’t get it done this year,″ Capers said. ``I’m disappointed that things had to end this way.″

The firing marks the second time the 55-year-old Capers has been released from an expansion team in its fourth season. He was let go by the Carolina Panthers in 1998.

His plan for building the team worked well until this season. The Texans won seven games last season after winning five in 2003 and four in their first season. Houston stunned Dallas in the franchise’s first game in 2002.

``It was emotional; it was difficult,″ offensive lineman Steve McKinney said of the morning meeting. ``I felt sorry for him.″

Veteran defensive end Gary Walker said he is sad to see Capers go, but he isn’t worried about the future of his former coach.

``Dom will have another job within a month,″ Walker said. ``He’ll be a defensive coordinator somewhere. With the right people around him, he could do some amazing things.″

Houston opened this season 0-6 before beating Cleveland and then losing six more. The Texans defeated Arizona and then lost their last two games. They own the top pick in the April draft.

Capers was hailed as an expansion wizard after leading Carolina to seven wins in its first season and the NFC title game in the team’s second year in 1996, when he was NFL Coach of the Year.

Things went downhill from there, and Capers was fired after the Panthers went 4-12 in 1998. He worked for two years as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars before he was hired by the Texans in January 2001.

``You have to be careful and stay with your step-by-step program,″ Capers said at the time. ``Then, you have to have the courage to stick with it and not sacrifice the future for the quick fix.″

His first pro job came when he joined Jim Mora’s staff with Philadelphia in the USFL. Capers made it to the NFL in 1986 when he went with Mora to New Orleans. He became defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh in 1992 before he was hired in Carolina in 1995.

McNair said when he hired Reeves that he wanted an outside voice to evaluate the organization. Reeves went to four Super Bowls in 23 seasons as a head coach, mostly recently with Atlanta after the 1998 season.