A flurry of tweets from several different people last night for you to peruse:
I feel bad for Brian Gardner, who was fired as Texans director of pro scouting. A real good guy. He was fired today with scout Kevin Murphy.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 18, 2014
GM Rick Smith will have to hire a new director of pro scouting. Bobby Grier, one of the NFL's best, is heavily involved in pro scouting dept— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 18, 2014
Texans have parted with Pro Personnel Director Brian Gardner, according to team sources. Could be plenty more front office change to come...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 18, 2014
New Texans coach Bill O'Brien is swinging a big stick there and much of the old guard is a little unsure of where they stand ...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 18, 2014
You pay a coach $7M to buy him out of his contract, and a Belichick disciple at that, and people brace for significant change ...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 18, 2014
Many people in the league believe if Texans GM Rick Smith had his way, Ken Whisenhunt would have been his top choice. More change could come— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 18, 2014
The Texans have also parted with at least one pro scout, and, again, more reshuffling is likely on the horizon— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 18, 2014
Texans pro scout Kevin Murphy, who was well regarded within that franchise and outside it, has also been let go. More possibly to come ...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 18, 2014
The relationship between Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith - or lack thereof - will be worth monitoring, closely in 2014 and beyond— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 18, 2014
My initial thoughts after reading all that are as follows:
1. Whether Bill O'Brien is behind the firing of the team's Director of Pro Personnel and one of the team's pro scouts remains to be seen, though La Canfora certainly seems to think that's the case. We don't know how much sway, if any, O'Brien holds in the front office.
I'm not sure it matters all that much. Heads are going to roll in the NFL after a 2-14 season. When a team compiled of professional athletes gets drubbed fourteen (14) times in a row, it stands to reason the people in charge of the losing team's personnel, both in scouting and in putting together the roster, are going to be held responsible.
2. With the paragraph above in mind, it truly is amazing that Rick Smith appears to have been so thoroughly absolved of blame thus far, at least in Bob McNair's eyes. Rick Smith is a modern day Rasputin. If you're going to fire the director of pro personnel, how does the boss of the director of pro personnel get a pass? Presumably, Smith signed off on whatever Gardner did. Ultimately, Smith is the guy in charge of the Texans' personnel. Are Gardner and Murphy merely sacrificial lambs here?
3. The connection between Rick Smith and Ken Whisenhunt has been reported before, so the idea that Whisenhunt may well have been Smith's preferred choice is not a shocker. I remain thrilled with the O'Brien hire, even if I am a bit envious that Ray Horton will be joining Whisenhunt in Nashville.
4. Here's wishing Gardner, Murphy, and their families the very best as they search for new employment.