Yesterday, the Twitter-sphere went all Hiroshima over the news that Deshaun Watson could potentially want out of Houston and had allegedly spoken to several teammates about demanding a trade.
Just as the dust settled and nearly every fan of every other NFL team out there photoshopped pictures of Watson in his or her favorite team’s jersey, a better sourced report came out that Watson was indeed disgruntled due to Cal McNair agreeing to allow his franchise player to have some input in the general manager and head coach hiring process, only to then hire Nick Caserio as Houston’s new general manager without even so much as informing Watson this was happening, much less consulting his star quarterback like he said he would. Plus, there’s the issue of the Texans choosing not to interview head coaching candidates like Eric Bieniemy.
#Texans QB Deshaun Watson is extremely unhappy with the organization after owner Cal McNair informed him he would be involved in the GM and coach hiring process and provide feedback… but then did neither in the hire of GM Nick Caserio, sources say.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 8, 2021
While Watson is smart enough to know he wouldn’t get final say on these hires, Cal McNair created the expectation that Watson would have some input. Not informing DW4 of the move amounts to a leadership cardinal sin. Never create new expectations and then fail to meet them.
Unfortunately, all of this smacks of Jack Easterby’s influence on the organization.
Simply replace “Gandalf” with “Deshaun” and the rest is self explanatory.
Oddly enough, the parallels between what’s happening in the Lord of the Rings scene above and right now on Kirby are end times sketchy. It’s fairly obvious that Cal McNair is listening to all the wrong people and making bad decisions based on what those people are telling him.
However, in this unparalleled age of information, Houston Texans fans are keenly aware that the one whispering poison in McNair’s ear is Jack Easterby. In the time it’s taken to type the words above, the “Fire Jack Easterby and Save Deshaun Watson” petition has gained nearly 50 new signatures. At 4 a.m. Google currently has NINE PAGES of “Fire Jack Easterby” search results.
Sports Illustrated launched the first legit salvo with their catching expose on Easterby’s nefarious rise to power, which instantly catapulted him to the height of “most hated people in Texas sports.” Texans fans now know Easterby was part of the horrific trade of DeAndre Hopkins. Texans fans now know Easterby was behind the utter mess of a salary cap the Texans are stuck with after Easterby threw his buddy Bill O’Brien under the bus to save his own job. From the aforementioned Sports Illustrated article:
Conversations with more than 40 people—current and former Texans football operations staff and players, colleagues from Easterby’s time in New England, those from his past in and out of football—provided detailed accounts of his alleged role in, among other things:
Undermining other executives and decision-makers, including the head coach who helped bring him to Houston.
The team’s holding workouts at the head strength coach’s house during the COVID-19 pandemic after the NFL had ordered franchises to shut down all facilities, shortly before a breakout of infections among players.
Advocating for a trade of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins soon after arriving in Houston—one season before Hopkins was sent to Arizona in a widely panned deal.
Fostering a culture of distrust among staff and players to the point that one Texan and two other staffers believed players were being surveilled outside the building.
Followed by this:
[Bill] O’Brien, who assumed the GM title nine months before being fired, took the brunt of the backlash for Hopkins’s unpopular trade, which has proved to be lopsided. While O’Brien negotiated the terms—the consensus was that the coach wanted to trade Hopkins as well—the same sources who recounted Easterby’s perceived coldness to Hopkins say it went further: They describe Easterby as the first, and most persistent, advocate for the team’s trading the receiver out of Houston. One of these people recalls hearing Easterby saying about Hopkins in front of small groups of people on multiple occasions in 2019, “We need to move on from that person,” without using his name.
Now that Nick Caserio is in the building, will Patriots nepotism continue? Or is Caserio actually a man of integrity, willing to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed? ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke down the current distress rather succinctly here.
There already has been speculation that Watson could demand a trade, though Caserio is only just starting his job and the team still doesn’t have a head coach. If the team were to trade Watson, it would have to absorb a salary-cap charge of $22 million, though it could get back a bounty of NFL draft picks and players.
But the mess that Caserio was hired to clean up is actually larger because of the events that surrounded his hiring, as it now includes a disillusioned franchise quarterback.
Here’s betting it won’t work that way. The next head coach of the Houston Texans will be chosen, at least in part, based on the recommendation of Jack Easterby ... and that’s in conflict with the “fresh start’’ statement the Houston Texans should be making.
Jack Easterby should not be involved in a hiring.
Jack Easterby should be involved in a firing (his own).
Unless, that is, Nick Caserio isn’t really in charge of the Houston Texans.
If Easterby’s influence has not only (A) soured the team’s ability to keep their All-Pro wideout in place (which it did; he’s now living in Arizona) and (B) is doing the same with the greatest quarterback this team has ever (and possibly will ever) have, there’s only one thing to do:
FIRE JACK EASTERBY.
This will be the true litmus test for Nick Caserio. It will show whether Cal McNair’s legacy is akin to that of the Rooney and Hunt families, both great NFL ownership stories, or what so many others believe—that Cal is just a completely out of touch, rich “kid” who happens to own an NFL team.