Texans fans, as you know, there are a lot of questions in the world that aren't easily answered. Questions like: What is the meaning of life? How much deeper would the ocean be if there weren't sponges living in it? And if you strangle a Smurf, what color would it turn? After last week's free agency madness and the great job that Rick Smith did by bringing in a top-flight cornerback in Johnathan Joseph and a strong safety in Danieal Manning, many people are saying that Smith has turned a corner, that he has evolved as a general manager.
But I have to admit that there's still a part of me that wonders if he has really evolved, or if this year he just felt the pressure of knowing his job was on the line if he didn't produce. Since I can't answer this for myself, I called in an expert to discuss the matter with me. Unfortunately, once he learned that he wouldn't be paid for his time, he bolted. Instead, please welcome to the post: TexanUprooted!
To watch me argue with "myself" hit the jump!
UT: TexanUprooted, thank you for coming.
TU: Yeah, yeah, I thought I told you not to bother me until the lockout was over.
UT: It-it is over. Has been for a couple of weeks now. Have you been living in a cave or something?
TU: I have been staying with Eric Winston. How did you know?
UT: You're wearing his loincloth.
TU: Oh. Right.
UT: Anyway, has Rick Smith improved as a GM? I have to say, I'm not entirely convinced. I think he knew if the Texans didn't improve drastically he would lose his job and if this were any other year, he wouldn't have looked twice at Joseph or Scrabble, much less pursued or signed either of them. He would've gone after Carlos Rogers and settled for Drayton Florence or something.
TU: How dare you sir?!
TU: This is a new era of optimism for the Texans! How can you possibly question our team's front office like that?!
UT: I'm a Texans fan. Optimism doesn't come naturally to me.
UT: Yeah, he Scott Boras'd us and resigned with the Pats.
TU: Right. But that was the only corner he targeted in free agency. He wasn't talking with any other corners that year and once Bodden re-signed, Smith was up a certain creek without a certain instrument. This year, he was talking with both Nnamdi Asomugha as well as Johnathan Joseph. When it became obvious that Asomugha wasn't coming to Houston and Joseph was ready to sign, he didn't hesitate to let Scrabble ride and take the second best corner in free agency. He's at least learned this go-around to hedge his bets.
UT: Huh? Sorry, I was just imagining Rick Smith in a canoe, paddling with a trumpet.
TU: Sigh...sometimes I wonder why I put up with you.
UT: But would he have even talked to Joseph or Asomugha, or even Manning, if his job wasn't on the line this year? I don't think so. I think he would've adhered to his painfully conservative strategy of building through the draft if this were any other year. I mean, look at Rick Smith's non-draft moves since he was hired. With this kind of history at GM, what other reason could there be for him to sign Joseph and Manning other than self-preservation?
TU: I think you just proved my point for me. He has learned that you can't just build through the draft. By the time you have all the pieces in place to be a contender, some parts have become too old and unproductive to make the impact required of them. It might have taken the fear of Bob to get him to sign Joseph and Manning, but he did.
UT: How much of Rick Smith's "evolution" is due to Wade Phillips calling the shots on defense, though? The draft had Phillips' phingerprints all over it, after all. So what if Joseph and Manning were also due to Wade Phillips?
TU: I can't deny that Wade Phillips has had a major impact on the team since his hiring. But he's also taking over for
Frank Bush Groucho, David Gibbs Chico, Johnny Holland Harpo, and Robert Saleh Zeppo and he brought in his own guys. The only one still there from last year is Bill Kollar Gummo. Groucho & Company, to put it nicely, had about as much business calling defensive plays as I do...um...as I do...
UT: Wearing Eric Winston's loincloth?
TU: Not where I was going, but okay. Part of this general incompetence includes not having a solid idea about who to pursue in free agency and the draft. Wade knows what pieces he needs to make this defense work and told Rick Smith to get him those pieces. And he actually signed them. One of the biggest complaints about Rick Smith was his supposed inability to sign top-level talent, and this year he's signed one of the best corners in football and a very underrated safety. I would say, if anything, Smith was hamstrung by the Marx Brothers rather than any inabilities he might have had. So if that's the case, he may not have evolved because he hasn't needed to. You see what I'm saying?
UT: That reminds me, I haven't seen "Duck Soup" in a while. I may have to get that on Netflix.
TU: You're out of ritalin again, aren't you?
So what do you think, Texans fans? Has Rick Smith evolved as a general manager? Has he needed to evolve? Has Rick Smith learned how to do the Greenback Boogie? Which Marx Brothers movie should UT watch instead of "Duck Soup?" Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.