While there's no need to just throw a parade just yet it is hard not to get excited about what I'm sure most fans would agree has been our most successful off-season. One question that keeps coming up is "what changed to make our front office competent". Wade Phillips is getting a lot of the credit as he should, but there are a few other factors to consider...after the jump.
Was all of this good luck due to the elevation of the Z key to deity status?
Well that probably had something to do with it. Just don't forget about Durga. Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned and all that. There are a couple of other factors involved.
Son of Bum
One of the biggest factors is that it is obvious the Texans had a clear blueprint for what they wanted to get done. Whether it was Dom Capers and Charles Casserly not being on the same page or frank Bush not really knowing exactly what his plan was, this is a big change. Wade certainly gets credit for that. He looked at what we had and said this is what we need. There are still some questions marks on the defensive side of the ball, but lets not ruin the moment. From the draft through free agency Wade's "vision" made Rick Smith's job easier. This might be the biggest factor in why things finally went right, but it is definitely not the only one.
The Cap Guy
Chris Olsen is a name that not everyone probably recognizes, but who probably played a significant role in all the free agency goodness of the last couple of days. He's been with the team for four years, but this is his first as Vice President of Football operations. His bio describes his job duties as to, " work closely with general manager Rick Smith on negotiating player contracts and managing the salary cap". Before that he spent 13 years in the league's cap office. With the new CBA being agreed to literally days before the feeding frenzy teams that were able to digest the new cap rules quickly, and then be able to use them to their advantage, had a big leg up. It's a virtual lock with what our reported cap situation was that Mr. Olsen had to do a lot of behind the scenes wrangling to make everything work.
Time Heals All Wounds
Rick Smith has made his mistakes. That much is obvious. His hiring was lamented because he had zero experience as a GM. Those cries about his inexperience have only gotten louder as the years went on as well. We're now getting some evidence that Rick Smith's on the job training is paying off though. Last year we missed out on a corner because we focused too much on Leigh Bodden. When he left the Texans at the Altar, well it was like looking around the bar at last call and realizing all the pretty girls were already spoken for. There's always a learning curve when you start a new job. We've seen first time head coaches have a hard time, only to go on to great success their second time around. Rick Smith went after Scrabble with everything he had, but he made sure to work other angles. When the Scrabble situation started to look bad he immediately went to plan B. We ended up with the second hottest girl at the bar, and got a discount on our tab. After getting Joseph, he immediately got Danieal Manning too. I'm going to stop using the picking up girls from the bar analogy now before it gets out of hand. It's too early to say, but I think we can all be hopeful that Bob McNair's patience with Rick Smith might be starting to pay off. Maybe Rick and Gary have finally "figured it out".
Good Old Fashion Luck
Luck of the preparation meets opportunity variety of course. The Texans biggest needs were Corner and Safety. This just happened to be one of the biggest crops of good Corners and Safeties on the market as there has been in quite some time. In most years you might expect one or maybe two good players at any position with hopefully a few above average guys available. This year at Corner Scrabble, Joseph, Cromartie, Wilson, B. Carr, C. Carr, and Nate Clements were all their to be had. The safety list was just as impressive. Weddle, Manning, Huff , Landry, Mikkel, and Landry. The debate about who is better than who in those two groups can go a bunch of different ways, but the fact is any of them were a major upgrade for the Texans Defense. If there had been on only or two good options at each position, like many other years, competition could have been much tougher. It's not often that a things line up this well, and it is a damn good thing Rick Smith and company were ready to take advantage of it.
I'm as big of a Wade fan as anyone and I've always paid attention to the teams he was coaching (I used to root for his teams before he went to the Cowboys. I had to draw the line somewhere). He deserves a lot praise for what he has brought to this team already. Just don't forget there were other factors involved.
ALL HAIL Z....and praise be to Durga.