Confused. Befuddled. Perplexed. Flummoxed. So many words are available to describe how I, and how you probably felt, as you were running away on Friday afternoon. You were commuting, or embracing the sun, and then the internet ripped a fat steamy Friday news dump. Brian Gaine. Fired. It’s a week later and I think I know why it happened, but I still probably don’t.
Since Gaine was fired, more information has been released. There’s more to know. Gaine was fired because they they viewed him as a personnel man, not a general manager, whatever in the world that means. Cal McNair had a clear vision of what he wanted; Gaine wasn’t it, and as previously reported, Gaine and Bill O’Brien’s relationship had been strained.
I still think there’s more to it than that. I also think this offseason played a large part in the decision. Brian Gaine botched this offseason and failed to capitalize on the opportunity he had in front of him. With Deshaun Watson on his rookie contract, plenty of cap space available, and draft capital at his disposal, Gaine didn’t do enough to improve the Texans’ roster this year.
O’Brien cares about two things: Winning games and keeping his job. During his time as the head coach in Houston, media leaks have seeped out. He didn’t know [NAME REDACTED]. He loved Deshaun Watson more than Rick Smith did. Rick Smith wouldn’t let him release Ryan Mallett. Just about all the media leaks to come out of Houston since 2014 took the blame off the head coach and put it on others.
This is an inference, but I do believe O’Brien watched his roster during OTAs, took a peek at the schedule, and thought, “Dang, it’s going to be really hard to make the postseason this year. If I don’t, that’s probably it for me in Houston.” In order to preemptively keep his job for another year, O’Brien jumped the gun, went to Cal, and let him know Gaine failed this offseason. Cal obliged and listened to O’Brien. As the new owner of the team, Cal wanted to make a big decision, and firing Gaine provided him the opportunity to do so.
In addition to this, the Texans’ new Vice President of Player Personnel, Jack Easterby, was in New England for their Super Bowl ring ceremony last week. While in New England, Easterby may have taken the time to talk to Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort about their interest in the Texans’ general manager position. If they fired Gaine, would Caserio or Ossenfort want the job? Caserio and Ossenfort were both candidates for the Houston GM gig in 2018 when the Texans eventually hired Gaine but couldn’t interview because the Patriots were still playing football at that time. But now, because it’s a ‘high level’ job, and the Patriots aren’t playing, Caserio or Ossenfort could interview, accept, and leave New England behind.
Caserio seems to have been the Texans’ No. 1 choice. I’m guessing he gave the thumbs up through Easterby last Thursday night. Gaine was fired the next day. Houston formally requested to interview Caserio after satiating Rooney Rule requirements over the weekend. O’Brien and Easterby could push Gaine out, and then Houston could get the guy they wanted two years ago.
The problem is that the job wasn’t open yet when Easterby allegedly talked to Caserio, and Caserio was still employed by the Patriots. Yesterday it was announced New England had filed tampering charges against the Texans. Now the NFL has to investigate. The Texans may be charged draft picks or money (LOL! Who cares?), but most of all, it may delay Houston’s ability to sign Caserio, elongating the hiring process and perhaps freezing Houston out of signing the general manager they wanted all along.
In the end, this is just my solipsistic view of things. I’m no Nate The Great internet sleuth. I’m not an expert on patching things together to weave a narrative. Like most things, the truth is probably more complicated and convoluted than what has been reported and patched together.
This whole thing is such a mess. Someone just extend Jadeveon Clowney already.