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Thoughts On The Texans Hiring David Culley, Deshaun Watson Demanding A Trade, And Infinite Sadness

There’s a lot to talk about here, and none of it is good.

Minnesota Vikings v Houston Texans Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

I don’t even know where to start.

The Houston Texans are an unmitigated disaster. They reached that status in record time thanks to the people in charge of this franchise. A year ago, the Texans lost in the second round of the NFL Playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champions. Now they are unequivocally the worst organization in the NFL and quite possibly all of professional sports. The nadir is horrifying, but somehow the speed at which they traveled to that depth is equally flabbergasting. I can’t even say they went from the penthouse to the outhouse because unlike, say, the Florida Marlins, the Texans never reached the pinnacle of their sport.

The Texans are a special kind of catastrophe. They are in their own category of calamity. They are bad and deserve all the mockery they get. They sowed it, and now they shall reap it. Actions have consequences.

I beg your pardon in advance if the following points seem disjointed. There’s a lot tumbling around in the ol’ noggin right now.

  • Cal McNair is ultimately responsible for everything that’s happened since his father passed away and he assumed stewardship of the organization. All of the haphazard, illogical, ruinous decisions that have left the team in its current state occurred on his watch. He empowered Bill O’Brien, and then Jack Easterby, and most recently Nick Caserio to run the franchise. Those were or are his guys. There can be little rational debate that the O’Brien-Easterby partnership was destructive, yet somehow the McNair-Easterby union has been exponentially worse. Cal’s devotion to Easterby, in the face of mountains of evidence that screamed for him to excise Easterby from the organization, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s cult-like. It defies all logic. It invites every ounce of scorn you can muster. If Cal McNair didn’t actively murder his football team, he gave Jack Easterby the means to do it, stood by, and allowed it to happen. Through his actions, both deliberate and negligent, Cal McNair has become one of the, if not the, worst owner(s) in Houston sports history, and he did it in record time, in a town where Bud Adams actually took a football team away from the city.
  • Jack Easterby could well be the single most pernicious force in NFL history. You can pick your favorite fictional or non-fictional comparison. Clothed in scripture and motivational claptrap, Easterby is a wolf. Bill O’Brien brought him into the hen house. Easterby proceeded to kill hen after hen after hen, either by himself or by encouraging O’Brien’s worst instincts. Then Easterby turned on O’Brien and became the most powerful voice in the room. Cal McNair, dead poultry littering the floor all around him, decided that Easterby should have a kitchen within the coop so Easterby could be more efficient. Everyone knew it was a mistake the moment it was announced, yet Cal ignored the naysayers. Cal had a chance to clean things up, but Easterby convinced him otherwise. And here we are.
  • Hiring David Culley to be the Texans’ new head coach made no sense on any level, save two. The first such justification, the one we all hoped was the case, was that Deshaun Watson communicated that he was on board with a Culley hire and that he’d publicly end all the speculation about him wanting out. The second possibility was that the Texans knew Watson was determined to play elsewhere, that they’d likely make it happen at some point, and that the resulting black hole would need someone to preside over it for the next two to three years while the team was reconstructed. Enter a sixty-five year old with no head coaching experience and a sterling reputation as a a great communicator. Culley wasn’t getting interviews anywhere else, much less an actual opportunity to be a head coach. Culley now gets to be a head coach in the NFL and get handsomely compensated for it while the Texans get someone who won’t push back against the grand plan and can be replaced by a bolder, better hire when the roster is no longer hot garbage. This is a marriage of convenience that will end in an amicable divorce in 2023 or 2024.
  • As we watched this car crash unfurl in slow motion, the one thing we were most terrified of has come to fruition. Deshaun Watson has formally told the Texans he wants to be traded. In fact, it’s now being reported that the Texans have known of Watson’s desire “for a few weeks.” Presumably the request was made shortly after Nick Caserio was hired without Watson’s input despite Cal McNair promising Watson that he’d be included in the process. The frustration was real and acted upon long before today. Despite all our pleading and prayers to the contrary, the Texans have known for awhile there wasn’t anyone they could hire to be their head coach that would change Deshaun Watson’s mind, and they acted accordingly, hiring who they believed was the best person for them and not their star quarterback. The die was cast.
  • Many have observed—and they’re 100% correct—that there is no equitable return for Deshaun Watson. To trade him is to get fleeced. Furthermore, there’s never been a situation like this in NFL history. A top five quarterback, just entering his prime, under contract for another five seasons, available in trade? It hasn’t ever happened. We are in uncharted territory.
  • J.J. Watt’s Texans career is over. I’m guessing a big reason for his silence throughout this ongoing failure is tacit admission both the Texans and J.J. know he’s moving on. Whether it’s by trade or release, the greatest player in franchise history will be playing elsewhere in September.
  • What should Nick Caserio do in the face of Deshaun’s trade demand? He has to play the hardest of hardball. This roster is deplorable by any measure without Deshaun Watson. The 2021 Houston Texans could easily go winless if #4 is not under center. If that happened, hello first overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft! If you’re Nick Caserio, are you tempted to call Deshaun’s bluff and dare him to sit out 2021? Then, armed with the top pick in each round of the 2022 NFL Draft, evaluate the trade market for him next offseason as opposed to trading him for dimes on the dollar before the 2021 NFL Draft? If Deshaun does play, your team is better, and there’s always the chance the new, friendlier environment David Culley was brought in to build could change Deshaun’s mind, right?
  • Kidding. I don’t think Deshaun Watson is changing his mind unless the McNairs put the team up for sale, which isn’t happening. Deshaun will be traded; it’s just a question of when and to whom.
  • Many Texans fans are saying they’re through with the organization. That their days as a Texans fan are done. That they’ll follow Deshaun to his next team or not follow any particular team anymore. They’re furious, and they should be. Forces far beyond their control have dismantled their beloved team for no good and completely avoidable reasons. Things are going to get far worse before they get better. Some fans will in fact turn their back on the team and never return. Others will walk away and stay away until the franchise is no longer owned by a McNair. But I’d wager the majority of the people who are giving up on the team will come back when the Texans are winning again. Nothing wrong with that; it’s the nature of fandom. And there will come a day when the Texans win again. It just won’t be anytime soon. Cal McNair and Jack Easterby have made sure of that.
  • We waited nearly twenty years for a franchise quarterback. After just four years of finally getting to enjoy that quarterback, the gross mismanagement of the organization both on and off the field led to said quarterback loudly declaring he wants nothing to do with Houston. I’m not mad at Deshaun, though I do believe there’s some merit to the notion that he knew what he was getting into when he signed that contract extension less than six months ago. I’m just sad. The Texans had a generational talent, and they blew it. Deshaun has had enough of the Houston Texans. We have too, but we can’t request a trade of the owner. Unlike DW4, we’re stuck.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts later. Thanks for allowing me to vent.