The Little Things

Incompetence is certainly a thing, but it rarely ever manifests itself in a grand fashion. It's more like the airplane pilot that crashes into a mountain or the sea. They don't make massive adjustments or jerky moves. They make small adjustments that when added up lead to disaster. Running a football team into the ground is done much the same way. As comical as the David Culley era was and as comical as the current head coaching search seems to be, those weren't the decisions that doomed the Texans organization. The seeds were planted a long time ago.

It is popular to assume that Jack Easterby is some kind of megalomaniacal villain like a Dr. No or Blowfeld. Maybe people think of him as a Jimmy Swaggert or Joel Osteen duping people out of their hard earned money. Maybe it is easier to imagine things that way. It would make more sense if it did. At least it would allow us to feed our sports hate to have someone so overtly evil.

Except Easterby is not really evil. He's a flawed man in flawed times. He runs according to the simple premise that people are better when they are the best version of themselves. He feels that he has skills that help people become the best version of themselves. After all, that's what character coaches do. Whether that is wrapped in religion or not is really not material at the moment. We can hate on Christianity or defend it at our own leisure. The whole downfall starts with a very defensible statement. People really are better when they are the best version of themselves.

What becomes indefensible is when that philosophy moves from working with players and coaches one at a time to picking players and coaches. It is the assumption that Easterby can do more than Brian Gaine because he is a better person. It is the assumption that Brandin Cooks is better than Deandre Hopkins because he is a better person. It is the assumption that David Johnson is better than Carlos Hyde. Duane Brown is not as good as Nick Martin. Jadeavon Clowney is not as good as Whitney Merciles.

None of these decisions turns you from an 11 win team into a four win team alone. All of these decisions are defensible on some level. Certainly there is something to be said about chemistry in a locker room. Certainly there are plenty of examples around the league of very talented players that fail to produce winning results because they just aren't good people. They have personal failings. They aren't the best versions of themselves. We know all about the Josh Gordons and Antonio Browns. We get it.

What we also get is that ultimately the teams that win are usually amongst the most talented teams. The coaches that win are the ones with the most innovative systems and who develop the best strategies. The executives that win are the shrewdest deal makers and the ones best at recognizing talent. You can certainly be all of those things AND a great person. We hope for those things and search them out whenever we can. Organizations run better with good people. They run better with talented people. When you have both you can do special things. When you lack talent you can't win with all the good people you find.

So, no one would question the character of a David Culley. He is an overwhelmingly nice man that cares about people and wants to do good by everybody. I'm sure there isn't a mean or sinister bone in his body. McCown certainly is just the same. He is probably smarter and has more potential, but it is more important to the powers that be that he is good. Experience is something you can acquire. Goodness is something more difficult to acquire. You can certainly convince yourself of that if you try hard enough.

Ultimately, Jack Easterby isn't a bad guy. He isn't a selfish guy. I'm sure he's even convinced himself that he doesn't want power for power's sake. He's convinced that you win when you have the best people. He knows the best people. He knows what makes a person great. He even has some skills that can help people become better than what they already are. The trouble is that what makes someone great as a person doesn't necessarily make them great at football. It may make them great at life, but being great at life doesn't win you more football games. People like Easterby are great to have around for when you want athletes, coaches, and executives to live their best lives away from the field and front office. They aren't great to have in the front office or on the field. There you need to know what you are doing and have the talent to make it happen.