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Eight Questions For The BRB Staff On The Present And Future Of The Houston Texans: Part One

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The BRB staff combines their considerable combined football knowledge to discuss the current and future Houston Texans at the halfway mark of 2015.

J.J. Watt salutes the BRB staff on their thoughtful analysis.
J.J. Watt salutes the BRB staff on their thoughtful analysis.
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2015 season somehow already half-over, I sent a series of questions to the Battle Red Blog staff on the current and short-term future of the Houston Texans.  This is a bit long-form (well, maybe in the post-Grantland era) so I will start with a list of questions for your perusal, and then you can scroll down and see some of the staff members' thoughts on each.

This will likely be Part One of a two-part series in order to give more of the staff a chance to get their thoughts in over the Texan-less football weekend.  Feel free to copy and paste the below and enter give us your thoughts in the comments section.

1. Would you have fired RAC sometime this season? If so, is your replacement Vrabel? Someone else?

2. What realistic starting line-up changes would you make on offense?

3. What realistic starting line-up changes would you make on defense?

4. To your trained, football-savvy eye - when you look at the product on the field, to whom do you assign the lion's share of the blame for this season's debacle between Rick Smith and Bill O'Brien?

5. Will Rick Smith be the GM of the Houston Texans in 2016?

6. At this very, very early stage - which college QB do you most covet, specifically for the Houston Texans?

7. The Texans' starting QB in 2016 will most likely be: (a) Someone currently on the Texans roster (b) Someone currently on another NFL team's roster (c) Someone currently playing college football

8. If you could have any current coach to coach the Houston Texans starting next season, would you choose Bill O'Brien (for the sake of continuity and/or you blame Rick Smith almost entirely) - or _________ ? Ground rules for this answer - if you pick a current NFL coach, it has to be a realistic - no Belichick, etc. I consider all college coaches eligible because it's at least reasonable to assume a guy might want to make the jump to the pros.

First up, Capt. Ron:

1. Would you have fired RAC sometime this season?

Yes. The regression of this defense from last season, and lack of preparation and adjustments, has been historically bad and unacceptable. Vrabel hasn't been able to get enough out of the linebackers (yet), so I'd pump the breaks on making him the DC for now. I would see if Jim Mora (UCLA) or Vance Joseph (Bengals DBs) would be interested in the DC job for Houston.

2. What realistic starting line-up changes would you make on offense?

Stop moving players around along the offensive line! That unit requires consistency more than most groups. Substitute as needed for an injury, but don't shuffle the deck every week in so many roles. Other than that? This offense is the thinnest looking area on the roster, and is seriously lacking playmaking stars. Very little investment has been made in the last few years, combined with unfortunate busts and injuries, and it shows.

3. What realistic starting line-up changes would you make on defense?

Move J.J. Watt around more like was done last year. Find a way to get Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilous on the field together; consider shifting to a 4-3. Blitz more!

4. To your trained, football-savvy eye - when you look at the product on the field, to whom do you assign the lion's share of the blame for this season's debacle between Rick Smith and Bill O'Brien?

Rick has been the one constant for the last ten years, and Houston has won two playoff games. That is really not acceptable. The missed draft picks and bad free agent pickups have decimated the depth and overall talent on the roster. Without knowing how much Kubiak and O'Brien influenced these decisions, it seems prudent to move on to another GM. Ten years of mediocrity is enough, even for a patient owner like McNair.

5. Will Rick Smith be the GM of the Houston Texans in 2016?

No. He'll finally get that long-rumored fake promotion.

6. At this very, very early stage - which college QB do you most covet, specifically for the Houston Texans?

Paxton Lynch: Memphis

7. The Texans' starting QB in 2016 will most likely be: (a) Someone currently on the Texans roster (b) Someone currently on another NFL team's roster (c) Someone currently playing college football.

(a) Assuming O'Brien is still the coach, and I do assume that will be the case, I think he'll stick with Hoyer next year and work on developing Tom Savage and a newly drafted rookie. I'm hoping it is Paxton Lynch, and that he becomes the future franchise signal caller Houston so desperately needs.

8. If you could have any current coach to coach the Houston Texans starting next season, would you choose Bill O'Brien (for the sake of continuity and/or you blame Rick Smith almost entirely) - or _________ ? Ground rules for this answer - if you pick a current NFL coach, it has to be a realistic - no Belichick, etc. I consider all college coaches eligible because it's at least reasonable to assume a guy might want to make the jump to the pros.

It seems as though O'Brien is far better suited for the college level with his style of managing players, and I think he would be an excellent fit for the current vacancy at Maryland. However, I'm inclined to give him another season with the Texans for continuity and to see how he does with more talent on the roster assuming Houston can draft a QB and add some skill-position playmakers at WR, TE and RB.

If I consider moving on from O'Brien, I'd strongly consider David Shaw (Stanford), or Sean McDermott (Panthers DC).

Next, BFD:

1. RAC should've been forcibly retired after the Dolphins debacle. It took the worst offensive line in the league coupled with a status as a quarterback to finally look like a confident defense As for a replacement? I wonder what Frank Bush is up to these days.

2. Neither Nate Washington nor Cecil Shorts should be seeing meaningful snaps at this point in their careers. It's time to give Jaelen Strong the #2 job and let Keith Mumphrey man the slot.

3. With Rahim Moore finally finding the bench in the stands, it's time for Christian Covington to start earning snaps over Vince Wilfork and Jared Crick.

4. Since we don't know who's truly responsible for the talent evaluation, seeing the same problems over and over again for the last decade points to Rick Smith. The Texans lack athleticism, and we often trade physical upside for the Alfred Blues of the world. This is a trend we've seen for a while now, and it points back to an extremely risk averse strategy that seems to be a long-time theme for the Texans.

5. Yes, Rick Smith will be our GM in 2016 as Bob McNair continues to troll the entirety of the Texans fanbase.

6. I haven't watched enough tape (aka youtube videos) to form an opinion on a college QB.

7. (b) Someone currently on another NFL team's roster. Matt Cassel? COME ON DOWN! The Texans FO has shown no interest in treating QB as a meaningful position since 2012 when Matt Schaub was proving to the world he was done. I have no reason to expect such flippancy to change.

8. While I don't have a specific replacement in mind, I don't believe O'Brien is an NFL quality head coach. His rah rah crap might work in college, but the rest of his body of work reeks like a college coach without a plan: not addressing QB and making changes based little, shuffling the offensive line, shuffling the secondary, and treating trash time as moral victories. Leaving Arian Foster on a wet field during trash time was the final straw on his particular camel, but it's clear he's way in over his head in the NFL.


Next, Matt Weston:

1. A coach's main job is putting his players in the best position to succeed. He hasn't done that this year. Eddie Pleasant at Nickle linebacker, Vince Wilfork in pass rush situations, J.J. Watt stuck at the 4i, Kareem Jackson playing right yards off the ball, Clowney and Watt not playing off each other are all examples.

I would fire him, but the problem is there isn't a viable replacement from what I know. Mike Vrabel would be cute but who knows if he can call plays or game plan. Besides him, there's no one else on this staff that jumps out to me. So he would stay just by the fact his departure wouldn't really change anything.

2. I would try to stick with an offensive line, but with injuries and Xavier Su'a-Filo being a complete ghost they have had to juggle things around.

3. I talked about it in my Texans' defense post. I would play Jackson at safety and in the box in dime situations, use Covington in pass rush situations, only play Benardrick McKinney and let him learn as the year goes on instead of throwing Tuggle/Dent out there, and start Kevin Johnson at corner #2.

4. The most important part of a team is talent. That's what will outweigh everything else on the field. It's evident the Texans lack talent aside from the spots where they have star players.

The coaching staff hasn't game planned well, put players in bad positions, and the quarterback carousel was a debacle.

With news coming out that it's a partnership I would put the blame 60% O'Brien 40% Smith simply because O'Brien was an integral part of the last two drafts and free agency and has ran the exes and ohs.

5. No, and he shouldn't. He will get airlifted into a better paying position like everyone else has/will say. It's going to be all Bill O'Brien next season and what he can do.

6. I haven't watched any and probably won't until after the season when I work up the courage. My heart is still wrapped in bandages after losing Teddy B!.

7. I can't see the Texans taking a quarterback with a high draft pick after seeing how Bill O'Brien has managed the Qb situation. I think he will feel like they are a QB away from competing and will trade for Drew Brees next year.

8.  I would need to think about this once the season is over.

That'll do for now... keep checking back for Part 2 in the series.

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