Everything rises and falls with leadership
Over the last five years, we’ve all had a front row seat to watch our beloved Houston Texans spiral down in flames, with one mind-numbingly bizarre move after another. From the “inmates running the prison” comment made by Texans founder Bob McNair (RIP), to Bill O’Brien trading DeAndre Hopkins in what has become one of the worst trades in the NFL’s 100+ year history, like a drug addict looking for a bigger and better fix, the leadership of the Texans has tumbled from one total fail to the next in spectacular fashion.
This ongoing failure falls entirely on the people responsible for making these remarks, trades, staffing decision,s and so forth.
With rumors swirling that the Texans might keep Romeo Crennel as a lame duck head coach for 2021, install Jack Easterby as the general manager, and ultimately flush next season down the toilet as Father Time robs Deshaun Watson of his potential the same way Bill O’Brien did J.J. Watt, it’s time to discuss a change of leadership.
I move for a vote of no confidence...
To that end, we’ve decided to put together our Top Ten List of reasons why Houston Texans owner Cal McNair should sell the team.
No particular order, other than No. 1. I could go on and on, but here are 10. And just for the record, I’m not crying for this team to be sold - I just want the owner to make a smart head coach and general manager hire and get the F out of the way. You’ll see below that I decry ownership for the LACK of stepping in, but that’s because BLATANTLY OBVIOUS horrible moves were being made by guys who did not earn the right to make them.
1. Allowing the DeAndre Hopkins trad, regardless of ownership’s role. ALL these moves could have been stopped by ownership.
2. Allowing Duane Brown to be traded because of his political beliefs. People forget Brown ended his holdout the week before he was traded. The Texans had all the leverage.
3. Allowing Jadeveon Clowney to be traded for the ludicrous package they received (it doesn’t matter that Clowney hasn’t been peak Clowney because his value at the time was high and Houston squandered it.)
4. Holding Rick Smith over after Gary Kubiak was fired. Coaches and GMs are package deals unless the GM is ELITE and has success building a team during different “administrations”.
5. Holding Jack Easterby over after Bill O’Brien was fired.
6. Allowing GM Bill O’Brien to be a thing (either by not stopping it or by installing it himself)
7. The lack of understanding that defying conventional football wisdom doesn’t mean you are new school or smart - sometimes things are JUST NOT THAT COMPLICATED in football.
8. Not stepping in when the team did NOTHING to address the already terrible defense this past offseason.
9. If true that trading Watt was not even entertained (it had been reported any Watt trade talk was a non-starter, that also is a horrific decision. I’m not mad that they didn’t trade him. because he’s still good and we don’t know what the offers were - but if it wasn’t even entertained, THAT is dereliction of duty.
10. An alarming amount of player acquisitions for premium picks (what I’m defining as Rounds 1-3), and in some cases not even using them (Duke Johnson).
1. Failsons suck at everything. EVERYTHING. Cal McNair is where he is because dad was able to make a mint. Cal ain’t earned jack. He’s not smart enough to stay out of the way, either.
2. Allowing BOB to promote himself into roles he never earned.
3. Allowing Rasputin Easterby to be relevant.
4. Duane Brown. Yeah, I know it was Uncle Bob, but the stink still applies to the entire family.
5. DeAndre Hopkins.
6. Brian Gaine.
7. Amy Palcic.
8. Jamey Rootes. Team performance sure as hell should be tied to financial success. Kitten you for thinking otherwise.
As far as “selling” the team, we are not there yet. The Texans are not Dan Snyder-level bad for ownership or personnel management, but Washington offers a warning of what the future might hold, and the Texans are trending that way. In short, why the Texans are heading that way:
1. The nebulous definition of “team culture,” which is dictating personnel moves, on and off the field.
2. Lack of identifying quality GMs and/or allowing GMs to grow into the role. This impacts all the on-the-field personnel moves that have hamstrung this team.
3. Perception that the team will always be profitable, no matter the on-field performance and/or the perception of the quality of the organization.
4. Right leaders in the right positions. Bad leadership will always sink an organization. Right now, the Texans don’t seem to have a lot of good leaders making good decisions.
5. Ownership actions or inaction. Cal has not quite been Snyder-esque, but he has perhaps been too permissive in other areas (sanity checks on GM selections/moves). Bob McNair was not the greatest, but you could at least identify a sense of patience with him. Cal will need to figure that out soon, as the franchise is entering a critical flashpoint. Manage it right, and the team can get back into the competitive picture. Botch it, and the Texans become the sad-sack franchise of the 2020s.
Again, the McNair Family does not need to sell the team, but Cal and the organization need a thorough review of where they are and where they are going. Between on-field failings and organizational missteps, the future could have the Chronicle emulating the Washington Post with multiple exposes highlighting the failings of the Texans. Those haven’t turned out so well for the Snyder Football Team.
1. They allowed Bill O’Brien to be both the head coach and the general manager, allowing him to cripple this franchise for future decision makers, all so they could blow a 24 point lead in the Divisional Round of the 2019 NFL Playoffs.
2. They traded Duane Brown because they didn’t want to pay him guaranteed money at his age and his conflict with ownership over the ‘inmates’ comment, not because of his performance or health.
3. They allowed Bill O’Brien to lie about the reason for the DeAndre Hopkins trade, and they continue to propagate said lie.
4. They allowed Bill O’Brien to trade DeAndre Hopkins.
5. The inmates comment.
6. They allowed Bill O’Brien to trade for Laremy Tunsil.
7. They allowed, and continue to allow, Jack Easterby to have a valuable role in this organization.
8. They didn’t make moves at this trade deadline.
9. They’ll make money and continue to make money because Texans are buffoons who love football way too much, not because of some business acumen on their end.
10. They named the team the TEXANS.
1. Bill O’Brien the coach - Within the first season, it was clear that O’Brien was not the quarterback-whispering, offensive super-genius he was made out to be. He was not the second coming of Jon Gruden, the unknown son of Bill Walsh, or even the star protege of Bill Belichick. His pre-hire hype was fictional at best and fraudulent at worst.
2. Duane Brown - While many owners unfortunately view the players as nothing more than assets, they’re very much flesh and blood humans. When you make a comment that deeply wounds them, a good leader will make amends, not jettison the player and label them a trouble maker.
3. [NAME REDACTED] - ‘nuff said.
4. Jadeveon Clowney - Clowney injured himself on the worst NFL playing surface ever devised when he landed in a seem between two of the turf pallets at NRG Stadium while chasing RGIII in the backfield and then was labeled as injury prone. Instead of rising to his defense, the team threw shade at him and then turned around and replaced the playing surface, acting like it was totally unrelated to Clowney and the other NFL players who filed suit against NRG for injuries sustained on the field. Firing Clowney into orbit, while paying half of his salary, was the shot that began the crippling of the Texans’ defense and led to what we’re seeing on the field right now.
5. Brian Gaine - Like so many other recruited to the Texans by Bill O’Brien, the former general manager totally fumbled his job, failed to improve the team, and ultimately was thrown under the bus to save O’Brien’s job. When your head coach lobbies for a GM and that GM does as bad a job as Gaine did, you fire them both and cut your losses.
6. Bill O’Brien the general manager - NFL history is littered with solid, some even great, head coaches who lose playoff games and find themselves unemployed soon thereafter. But not O’Brien. Not only did he get a pat on the back for getting bulldozed by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 playoffs, Cal McNair promoted him to head coach/general manager. Anyone who makes a decision like this immediately calls into question their ability to think critically and make sound decisions.
7. DeAndre Hopkins - This one should actually take up more than one place on this list due to the myriad number of fails involved. Bill O’Brien allegedly allowed his relationship with the star wideout to go sideways over Hopkins’ lifestyle choices. Then, instead of using his leadership abilities to guide Hopkins along the desired path, O’Brien turned the relationship toxic to the point he soured the trade market for the receiver. Then, with his total lack of negotiating skills, he gave Hopkins away to the Cardinals for a running back that has little to no value in an NFL trade and a second round draft pick. See ‘critical thinking and decision-making’ above.
8. J.J. Watt - A player like Watt comes to a franchise once in a lifetime. While to ownership, the franchise is nothing more than yet another business they own that should produce a profit, maximizing the star power of a player like Watt is Business 101. Instead, the Texans have utterly squandered his career to the point Watt allegedly wants out of Houston because he sees no light at the end of the tunnel McNair is driving the team down. Any team with solid leadership could have built a Super Bowl champion squad around J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson years ago...but the Texans clearly lack that leadership ability.
9. Jack Easterby -Having a team chaplain to boost morale and help the mental well-being of the players isn’t a bad idea. Giving that guy the level of power and influence Easterby allegedly has within the Texans is unprecedented and indefensible. Cal McNair should have cleaned house at the end of the 2019 playoffs, with Easterby joining O’Brien and everyone else associated with him in the unemployment line.
10. Cal McNair - Having never met the man, making judgment calls on his intellect, level of passion for the team, desire to provide the City of Houston with its first Super Bowl Championship, and other such things is literally taking shots in the dark. However, just as we can tell the sun exists because of the gravitational pull it has on all the planets, the event horizon of McNair’s leadership is clearly visible in all the things listed above. Actions, as they say, speak louder than words and Cal’s actions are not those of a business savvy, keen intellect impassioned to build a top notch organization. No, he’s not a member of the Rooney family, or even Al Davis for that matter. And, with history as the only predictor of the future, Cal McNair will never overcome his shortfalls in leadership to bring a Lombardi Trophy home to H-Town.
There you have a veritable mountain of evidence for the need for new ownership. What do you think? Feel McNair is just fine? Want someone like Mark Cuban to buy the Texans?