A boat without a rudder has no direction. A boat whose captain is intentionally poking holes in the bottom is going to sink.
The Texans, under the supreme power of General Manager/Head Coach Bill O’Brien, have made some of the most questionable and dubious decisions in sports history in recent months. Organizations dream about finding that one special player who can change the course of a game. Under Rick Smith’s tenure as General Manager in Houston, the Texans had four legitimate game-changing athletes. With O’Brien assuming both roles, two of those players are gone and the Texans have nothing to show for it.
O’Brien’s fall-in-line mentality has been the second-most polarizing aspect in this franchise’s young history. It has been the bane of many promising young players with potential. Just to name a few, D’Onta Foreman, Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller, Tyler Ervin, Keith Mumphery, Louis Nix... and you know Keke Coutee is next.
It’s one thing to stunt players’ careers. It’s another to turn away or alienate stars who are actively playing and producing for your team. Jadeveon Clowney and now DeAndre Hopkins have been scorned by O’Brien for one thing or another, which has led them to being traded away. And remember Brandon Brooks had nothing nice to say about O’Brien when he left in free agency. O’Brien’s domination of the entire organization has crippled the franchise.
This was not always the case. The Teapot didn’t used to get all steamed up like this. Things like this didn't happen when Rick Smith was running the franchise.
In the Rick Smith-Bill O’Brien era (2014 - 2017), we saw the Texans bring in some of the team’s best contributors. From Jadeveon Clowney to Deshaun Watson, they generally did a good job at drafting top talent. Now, for every good draft pick they had, there was an equally poor free agency decision. In a fit of desperation they did sign [NAME REDACTED]. They went all-in on Aaron Colvin, and then there was Jeff Allen.
It’s not just about the talent that came and went during Smith’s tenure at GM. It was the effect he had on the franchise. The calm that didn't let the storm occur. The steam released from the teapot.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, Smith had to step away from his position and his team. It was the right decision, and I’m glad he was able to take that time for his family. Now, he has publicly said that he is open to returning to the NFL. With his head and heart ready to get back into the game, Smith is the only person who can step into NRG Park and right the ship.
If it wasn't obvious, Bill O’Brien isn’t going anywhere. Cal McNair’s hands are off the wheel; O’Brien is driving. To save (his own) face, McNair could easily turn to a familiar friend in Smith to take back partial control of the franchise. What better way to return to normalcy than to reinstate the man who got us there?
Since Smith’s departure in January 2018, the team has not been the same. Yes, they’ve won the AFC South division the last two years, but in the days and months after his departure, it’s been a tumultuous time to be a Texans fan. Smith set this roster up to make deep runs into the NFL Playoffs. With mega-stars all over the field, the Texans only have one playoff win to show for it. Not only have the Texans been a let-down, they’ve been embarrassed nationally for their play on the field and by management of the team off of it.
Smith cannot undo what O’Brien has done, but maybe he can keep Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt happy for the time being. Maybe he can keep us making the postseason for awhile until we have draft capital again. Maybe he can manage the major salaries that will need to be paid out in the coming years. Or maybe he can just not let O’Brien ruin this city’s heart and soul any more.
If you are ready, Rick, Houston is.