The Texans’ season was already over when Bill O’Brien was finally purged from deep within the pit of NRG Park after an 0-4 start. This was the climax to the 2020 NFL season for the Texans business organization. We held each other and cried gluttonous, joyful globs. We put our tongues down each other’s throats in empty city streets. Podcasts were recorded. Words were spilled. Hospitals in the state of Texas will be overwhelmed, not because of the ongoing pandemic, but because of new life detonating from wombs this June.
Everything after O’Brien’s firing was falling action. The NFL Playoffs were impossible. Deshaun Watson empty sets, Chad (in as small of a font as possible) Hansen could maybe become a WR4, Tytus Howard pass sets, Kahale Warring caught three passes, Roderick Johnson run blocking, J.J. Watt healthy and productive, losing in the dumbest ways possible. All of it was just diversions until the future arrived.
At the time, you and I, naive and stupid, optimistic and ridiculous, assumed that things would get better. The Texans would hire an offensive-minded head coach like Eric Bieniemy, or Brian Daboll, or Arthur Smith. They’d bring in the perfect man to push Deshaun Watson farther and do the thing O’Brien never did—develop and build an offense around Watson that would get the most out of his skillset. The past, bland and putrid, absolutely stupid, would be put to rest. The future would be golden and wonderful. Top five offenses. Maximizing Watson. Turning and contorting as the personnel, rules, and game changed, with DW4 at the center. Seasons like 2020 wouldn’t happen for a long time ever again.
This, of course, didn’t happen. The Houston Texans are not a normal football franchise. They are a team with an an empty vessel for an owner. An owner currently being filled by Jack Easterby, an insidious spirit, fork-tongued and lashing, that charlatan servant. Everything that works, everything a normal team does, is out the window. There is no box. The Texans are bizarre, putrid, disgusting, and most of all, they’re dumb, imbecilic, or ______, Fill in the blank. Any adjective you have works.
Somehow, things have only gotten worse since the end of the 2020 season. Before the offseason truly began, if the Texans hit their free agency targets, found one or two starters in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the new coaching staff developed the existing young talent on the roster, the postseason would be possible in 2021. This is now out the window. NRG Stadium is on fire.
Following A.J. Brown’s catch and Sam Sloman’s kick in Week 17, Deshaun Watson took to the podium and stated the Texans needed a culture change from top to bottom.
Watson asked ideal qualities in a HC/Bieniemy: "We just need a whole culture shift ... we need a leader so we can follow that leader ... we all gotta be on the same page ... too many different ideas and too many people thinking that they have this power and its not like that." pic.twitter.com/prytDgspoE— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) January 4, 2021
McNair and Watson bonded over plastic diarrhea pizza and aniamatronic rodent insanity at McNair’s favorite dining place. There, McNair promised Watson he would be involved in the general manager and head coach searches. These promises weren’t kept. Rather than stick to the candidates provided by the search firm and hire Omar Khan, Easterby, cornered and serpentine, slithered inside of McNair’s ear, filled his empty skull, and convinced McNair that Nick Caserio should be the Texans’ next general manager.
Caserio may be a great general manager. He may not. Nobody knows. But the optics of his hiring are ridiculous. Houston attempted to bring him in two summers ago and were hit with tampering charges that led to them ending their pursuit and O’Brien and Easterby becoming the sole decision-makers. Caserio’s hiring allows the Patriots fingerprints to stay on doorknobs and bed frames. It prevents any sort of overhaul or change to take place. It ensures the future will be a continuation of the past instead of amputation and something entirely new. The lizard regenerated its tail. The general manager, the only person who could possibly fire Jack Easterby, is an Easterby man, someone who has nothing but tremendous respect and admiration for the man who has ruined the franchise:
Jack and I have had a really special relationship. It goes back a number of years. I’d say he and I have – he’s helped me a lot I would say personally. We’ve actually dealt with some things on a personal level through the years, but he’s someone that I’ve always leaned on, I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for. Any personnel decisions that will be made we’ll make as a group, but ultimately that’s a responsibility that Cal has instilled in me, is to handle the personnel side of the football operations. So that’s the expectation moving forward. Jack will have a role and we’ll work in conjunction with each other on a number of things for sure. But as it pertains to football decisions, those will ultimately be my decision in conjunction with the head coach once we get to that point, as well.
If I could add to that, because I’ve had experience working with Jack. Jack’s unique skill I would say is the ability to invest in people, grow people, and serve, and I think that servant mindset has served a lot of people well. I know it’s helped me on a lot of levels, but those are the types of things relative to Jack and what he can bring to the table. Again, Cal (McNair) has brought me to the Texans to handle the football aspect, and that’s my main responsibility. We’re going to need a lot of people in this building, a lot of really good people, to try to help grow this team and develop this team to get to a point that we have something that’s sustainable for a long period of time.
The Caserio hiring spurned the “Watson is unhappy” reports, which turned into Watson is discussing exploring requesting a trade with his teammates, which then finally evolved into its final form last week—Watson requests a trade from the Houston Texans.
Watson is the entirety of the Houston Texans franchise. The defense is empty, thanks to Bill O’Brien focusing the franchise’s investment on an offense that could never get above average, allowing key defensive contributors to leave for nothing, and overpaying bad players in free agency. The remaining players grew older and worse. The young players on the roster never developed into much of anything. The offensive skill position groups need to be retooled. The offensive line is still crappy despite having two first round picks, two second round picks, and $32 million in cap space invested in it. The future of the Houston Texans is Deshaun Watson and Deshaun Watson alone. On top of all of that, the Texans are entering an offseason without their first two picks and are above the cap. Every problem this franchise faces stems from O’Brien and O’Brien alone.
Rather than appease Watson and follow through with their promises, the Texans did the unthinkable. They ignored him every step of the way. Calls went straight to voicemail. Text messages left unread. Undeliverable emails. As a result, they are stuck in a stand-off, in an unprecedented situation with a star quarterback, where they will either trade an age-25 top-five elite quarterback or watch helplessly as he sits out training camp and the 2021 season.
The Texans are mired in what Steph Stradley smartly called toxic positivity. They are blind to the idea of a culture that no one enjoys playing in. Management is hanging up on every general manager’s phone call. Houston believes Watson is going to remain in Houston, despite the terrible situation they created. Knees in the pew. If they pray hard enough, it will happen. His will be done.
Watson, checked out before the hiring of David Culley, with a no-trade clause handy, guided by the same agent who maneuvered Jalen Ramsey to Los Angeles, is ignoring all correspondence with Houston.
This is the stage. No one has any idea how this is going to play out. It’s all hypothesizing and philosophizing. That being said, I guarantee is that it’s not going to get better. The well of Texans football misery is infinite. There is no bottom. ESTABLISHING THE RUN against Pittsburgh despite a spread, hurry-up passing attack working. Will Fuller dropping a one-handed catch DeAndre Hopkins would have made against the Vikings. David Johnson averaging 3.38 yards per carry. Nick Martin skidding the snap. Sports Illustrated articles. Watson’s trade request. It’s all a spiral downwards, deeper and deeper, down to a bottom that doesn’t exist. Things are only going to get dumber from here.
This is how I see it.
The hiring of David Culley is another turned page of dumbassery. He’s a Jack Easterby tweet brought to life. After coaching a Chiefs wide receiver group that had zero touchdown receptions, presiding over Josh Allen’s awful rookie season and Nathan Peterman for the Bills, and being the pass game coordinator of one of the worst passing games in the league in Baltimore, Culley is now the head coach of the Houston Texans. Because apparently, he knows how it works.
What I found was, there was a consistency and there was a trust that he had and all those people that Nick mentioned earlier they had, that allowed their franchises to be successful. As you look today, the common thread with all of that is there as I’ve gone through that process from Kansas City, to Buffalo, to Baltimore and as everybody knows, it works, and that’s who I am. That’s who I am. And that same thing, I’m bringing here to the Houston Texans because I know it works, and it’s going to work here with us.
This was a hiring made in the name of culture, leadership, continuation, investing in people, accountability, and all those fuzzy subjective things that are important but aren’t the key to determining who wins and loses football games.
As Tim mentioned on the Super Mega David Culley podcast, Culley isn’t here to win football games. He’s here to be a bright, positive light. He’s here because people like him. His job is to keep morale as a high as it can while the Texans are atrocious for the next two to three seasons. Culley won’t maximize Watson’s skills. Culley is here to run the team once Watson is traded. This isn’t a head coaching job. This is a pension plan.
The Texans are currently saying and doing all the right things after they already failed to meet the minimum previous requirements. We have zero interest in trading Deshaun Watson. Phone calls aren’t being answered. There isn’t a trade package out there that makes sense. Each package takes ten beers of convincing. Four first round picks, two second round picks, Denzel Mims, and Quinnen Williams? You’d rather keep Watson. Justin Herbert, two first round picks, and Stephon Tuitt? You’d rather keep Watson. Tua Tagovailoa, three first round picks, and two second round picks? You’d rather keep Watson.
Houston doesn’t get to dictate this situation. They can’t force Watson to play. Worse, they refuse to do the right and necessary thing to fix the poisoned culture. Easterby is still here. He’s a valuable member of the organization. It takes a lot of people to build a great football team. They have not only stuck with, but they have doubled down on, the culture that Watson said needed to be changed.
Bringing back Will Fuller isn’t going to change things. Neither will getting a better offensive line coach or keeping Brandin Cooks around. The bridge has been destroyed. Houston is going to end up either trading Watson before the NFL Draft, so they know what the picks they are getting are worth, or after next season, once Watson sits out, diminishing the package they could received for him in the first place.
The end is going to happen. It’s just a question of when.
For this franchise, this is a return to the where we started. After a decade of some success, the Texans have been able to lie to themselves and feel like they are better than the Bengals, or the Lions, or the Jaguars, or the Browns, those franchises living off of rats in the NFL’s cellar. At the heart of it, the Texans are no different. They had a run of competency and a talented roster was ruined by a mediocre, chin-dimpled, hollering cretin. The Texans are the cellar. They are the Browns. They just had enough of a blip of success to convince themselves otherwise.
This upcoming season is going to be different than last year’s 4-12 season, or 2017’s 4-12, or 2013’s 2-14 season. Those were teams with asterisks. Last year’s team still had a star quarterback to build around. The 2017 team was struck by Watson’s meteoric rise until he shredded his knee. The 2013 team was talented but was ruined by injuries and black cat bad luck. The 2021 team is going to be nothing. It’s a mound of dirt. Something that would need to be completely excavated and built.
2-14 or 3-13, it doesn’t matter. Once Watson is gone, the Texans are ashes. The entirety of the team will be rebuilt, thanks to the decisions O’Brien made that emptied the pool of talent and turned the Texans into a 4-12 team to begin with. This will be the Middle Ages. Atrocious seasons not because of misfortune, but because of the personnel and coaching staff. In the meantime, us sickos will continue to watch, armchair scout, and hope for things like Ross Blackock learning how to develop a single pass rush move. Ruination, nosebleeds, hallucinations...these are things to root for along the way.
The Texans don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. Despite the right things being said and the current swirling rumors, things are only going to get worse. We are Texans. We are stupid. Everything is only going to get dumber from here.