Yesterday, your Houston Texans made another head-scratching roster move. Throughout the offseason, we’ve been regaled with the 2021 Houston Texans buzzword Competition. It’s the singular reason why new general manager Nick Caserio signed a record number of free agents this year. It’s the reason why Houston signed ALL the linebackers. It’s the reason why they spent their first pick in this year’s draft on Davis Mills, a project quarterback.
Houston Texans head coach David Culley:
We’re looking at it like there’s going to be competition at all positions. This is a new football team here. Basically, we’ve created competition all around this football team, not just at the quarterback position, but basically at all positions. That’s why you see so many guys on this football team right now that haven’t been here. We’re going to let things play out in training camp. We’re going to go from there and then the best players that give us the best chance to win are the ones we’re going to be put on the football field regardless of position.
Well, unless you’re Ryan Finley.
Never mind that the trade itself had shades of the Jadeveon Clowney deal, where Houston gave away assets of value for a player they might be able to sign off the waiver wire or the street with a little bit of patience.
Texans acquire quarterback Ryan Finley via trade from the Bengals, according to a league source. Bengals were expected to cut him, instead they trade him to Houston, which now has Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor and Finley on the roster— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 19, 2021
With Deshaun Watson allegedly skipping Texans OTAs and minicamps and expected to never again play for the Texans, Houston could certainly use all the competition under center it can get. Someone in the NFL taught Bill O’Brien how to play the role of general manager. We all assumed O’Brien just didn’t learn very well. However, since Caserio was the guy most likely responsible for teaching O’Brien during their time together in New England, it really should come as no surprise that the team continues to make O’Brien-esque decisions.
What’s next? Sign multiple scat-backs and install a power running game? Nothing says modern day Texans like hammering the A-gap with players built for off-tackle runs. In the grand scheme, Finley was most likely not the answer to Houston’s quarterback question. But someone in the current regime thought enough of him to trade away a draft pick for him.
This is the sort of behavior that separates good general managers from bad ones. A smart GM would say, trade a player like T.J. Yates to the Atlanta Falcons for a solid linebacker instead of cutting him, and then sign him back a later on when the Falcons cut him. A smart GM would trade a 6th round pick for the best center in team history. A not-so-savvy GM would trade away a former #1 draft pick for Barkevious Mingo hours before Mingo would probably hit the waiver wire, and then watch Mingo leave the following offseason. An equally unsavvy GM would talk a team out of cutting Ryan Finley, trade for him, and then cut him a few months later. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this before as Bill O’Brien was also all about COMPETITION, swapping out quarterbacks like sweat socks before he lucked into Deshaun Watson.
A team’s success is in the details. Just look at Vince Lombardi, Chuck Knoll, Bill Walsh, or Bill Belichick. Smart leaders make smart small decisions and smart big ones. Conversely, when you make bad small decisions, you’ll make bad big ones too.
If, and this is something that’s garnered a lot of debate, but IF you were purposefully trying to tank a team to get the #1 pick in the following year’s draft, you’d have to do several things successfully to leverage the present for the future.
- Clear away long-term burdensome contracts for non-star players - check
- Bring in a foundation of young, high-ceiling players on smart deals - FAIL
- Sign a raft of veterans on short deals to fill in the roster holes - check
- Work the roster and trades to compile as much future cap space and draft capital as possible - FAIL
- Only trade for players who fit your future team needs - FAIL
- Remove anyone in the front office who was part of leading the team to 4-12 and current level of roster devastation - FAIL
- Bring in young, rising star coaches who have huge upside and bring fresh new ideas to the organization- FAIL
- Sign a head coach who has a long, bright future ahead of him- FAIL
- Lower the overall roster average age so players cangrow with the team - FAIL
Things you wouldn’t do:
- Trade away assets for little or no return, particularly no return in 2022 and beyond - DONE
- Lie to fans about creating competition, as if grown men wouldn’t compete for their livelihood otherwise. - DONE
- Work hard to free up cap space, only to fritter it away in the name of “competition” - DONE
- Be the first team to choose a head coach, then wait until you’re the last one looking and sign a guy no one else wanted who’s never done the job and at the end of his career - DONE
- Sign a defensive coordinator who hasn’t been relevant in a very long time - DONE
- Retain last season’s offensive coordinator, but re-jigger the entire offense - DONE
- Peeve the only offensive star the team has - DONE
- Create an environment where the greatest defensive player in team history asks for a release, and then grant it - DONE
This isn’t about competition. It’s about continuing Nick Caserio and Bill O’Brien’s brand of “The Patriot Way”. Anyone who’s been paying any attention to the NFL over the last two decades knows the Patriot Way only works if Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are involved. Just ask Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini, Matt Patricia, or...Bill O’Brien.
As this fanbase approaches the 20-year mark of faithful, diehard loyalty to this organization, the McNairs owe it to their fans to do better than this. It’s not good enough to simply field 53 warm bodies. It’s not good enough to continue throwing good money after bad chasing a system that has never worked outside of New England. It’s not good enough to simply hide failure behind a silly, nonsensical buzzword shrouded in toxic positivity.
It’s just not good enough.