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BRB GroupThink: Nick Caserio and What Comes Next

The masthead sits around the campfire and discusses the Texans’ new general manager.

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions

The Houston Texans signed Nick Caserio to be their general manager this week. He signed a six-year contract, making him the third highest general manager in the NFL. For this week’s groupthink I asked the masthead the following:

What do you think of Nick Caserio being the next general manager of the Houston Texans? Who do you think will become the newest head coach of the Houston Texans?

These are our responses:

L4BLITZER:

After the purging of BO’B, I felt that the biggest, most important hire was going to be the general manager, and not just because the Texans indicated that said position was their first hire. Given the buffoonery of the front office, arguably since Rick Smith left the position, but confirmed with BO’B dual-hatted himself, the team went from outside Super Bowl contender to also-ran in less than 2 seasons. They also managed to do this with the added benefit of squandering key draft picks and cap space. This presents the NFL version of a wicked problem. About the only reason for hope is that the team has locked up the franchise quarterback. While the Head Coach and coordinator hires will be critical, the general manager hire has to be a touchdown, and a quick strike one at that, if the team hopes to avoid a multi-season morass of suck and apathy.

Of all the candidates interviews, the consulting firms and the tarot card readings, the Texans ultimately circled back to the man they wanted all along. Granted, Caserio was a target for other franchises, so there is that working for him. He has a background in personnel and scouting, which will be key, especially given the Texans lack of quality picks. He has an understanding of what a successful organization can achieve and has been party to one of the greatest runs in NFL history. That being said, being a Bill Belichick minion has not always yielded the desired outcome. While there is a great deal of attention to the coaching tree, the personnel tree is a mixed bag. In looking at other front office types that came from New England, some have managed success, but it is not a given. Perhaps the most prominent was Thomas Dimitroff (formerly of Atlanta). True, Dimitroff put together the squad that couldn’t hold a 28-3 Super Bowl lead. However, he helped build a team that at least got to a Super Bowl. There is no certainty that Caserio will continue that line of success, but if he can build a team that gets us to a Super Bowl (or at least a conference title game appearance), that perception will change. Job Robinson is Tennessee has done a great job as well morphing them into a perennial playoff contender.

Yet, what is most galling/disheartening about this hire is that the desired “change in culture” for the team after this season is likely not happening. While the Texans won’t publicly acknowledge this, it is hard to not look at this hire as the work and influence of Jack Easterby. He was the driving force behind the initial recruitment of Caserio the last time. Perhaps if we had called the Patriots’ bluff then, taken the mid-round draft pick hit and hired Caserio in 2019, we could have avoided some of the ills we see now, but that was then. Caserio may yet turn into a good general manager, but this move seems to assure that Easterby will remain a driving force in the Texans organization for some time to come. This is not a good thing.

As for the future Head Coach, this would seem to indicate that Houston continues to create the Patriots’ South model. There is conflicting reporting on this, but I would be shocked if the team didn’t at least interview Josh McDaniels. Am I enthused about that move? Absolutely not. Jerrod Mayo or another other assistant with their primary ties to the Belichick Patriots would also be in play, but that is also not reassuring. Maybe the team will look beyond the Patriot model for the next head coach, and can find someone that Caserio can work with...but said individual will have to have the blessing of Cardinal Richelieu, er, Jack Easterby. Of course, a Caserio/McDaniels/Easterby triumvirate does not generate excitement and hope for the team. Cal will need to be mindful of this, as the assured sellouts and revenue streams pre-pandemic are not assured of returning next season. After this season and the prospect of maybe a couple of down seasons, the Texans need to show positive signs to get the fans excited to justify them budgeting dwindling financial resources to back this team. it may yet work out, but at the moment, I am not enthused about the immediate future prospect for the Texans.

MATT WESTON:

First and foremost, no one knows if Nick Caserio is going to be a good general manager or not. He’s never had the position before. None of us have personally worked with him, and neither has anyone on the internet wailing and sobbing have either. Yes, the optics of it are absurd and insidious, and this has Jack Easterby’s forked tongue writhing and wriggling all over it.

I don’t feel one or the other about Caserio, mainly because I’ve made it an integral point of my life to not talk about things I don’t know about. It’s ok to say I don’t know. It’s important to say I don’t know. Regarding Caserio, I don’t know is really the only real thought to have on it.

The same can be said about the head coaching search to a certain extent. We don’t know how these candidates are when it comes to LEADING MEN, and playing CEO, and running meetings, and coaching players, and developing talent, and delegating responsibilities, and who would end up on their coaching staff. This portion of it alludes us. But we do know the type of offense and defense they run, and my extrapolating this to the current Texans roster, it provides a springboard into what the future, and what will hopefully be the next good Houston football team.

It’s difficult for me to imagine a world where someone without New England ties becomes the next head coach in Houston. Hopefully it’s Brian Daboll. His spread quick passing offense would work perfectly in Houston, although Deshaun Watson doesn’t have the same ability to hang in the pocket like Josh Allen, or the arm strength, or the short accuracy Allen has, he has the mind, mobility, intermediate and deep accuracy, and body to create plays outside the pocket in a similar fashion. And although Houston doesn’t have a true number one wide receiver like Buffalo does in Stefon Diggs, they do have a wide range of pass catchers that Daboll can work with. Daboll going from Buffalo to Houston is as much of a copy and paste job Houston can get.

Hopefully this doesn’t mean someone like Josh McDaniels, who had his troubles as a head coach before and his offensive success is tied entirely around Tom Brady, or Jerod Mayo, who has never even been a defensive coordinator before, who mysteriously was hyped up as a possible head coaching candidate by the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson.

I still can’t get this last article out of my head. I’m hoping and praying it’s Daboll. My guess is it’s going to be Mayo.

MIKE BULLOCK:

I’m going to reserve judgement on Caserio taking the wheel for now, as with Cal McNair’s crazy circus house of horrors, who knows exactly whether Caserio will get anything done, get the under-the-bus-chuck from Jack Easterby when next Easterby’s “culture” issues arise again (See Amy Palcic), or he even takes the job without backing out ala Josh McDaniels.

My gut reaction is not good, however.

Omar Khan, the Steelers VP, was the only candidate so far who filled me with hope, primarily because I’m so over rooting for Patriots South.

I’d imagine I speak for a LOT of Texans fans when I say if I wanted to root for Patriots South, I’d just root for the actual Patriots...

Bringing in yet another New England Patriots guy, not only seems to mean Jack Easterby’s not going anywhere anytime soon, but we can expect more of the same hot garbage we’ve seen from the prior ex-New England Patriots who destroyed this team in the first place.

However, I will try to remain cautiously optimistic. Caserio seems like a really sharp, no-nonsense guy who wants the best for the organization. If he can pull some savvy trades, undo his buddy Bill O’Brien’s salary cap implosion and manage to hire a promising young head coach who isn’t Josh McDaniels, then maybe, just maybe, the light at the end of the tunnel won’t be a freight train.

That being said, I’m firmly in the camp of Houston needing a defensive minded head coach, ala Robert Saleh or Matt Eberflus. Tim Kelly managed to help Deshaun Watson have the best quarterback outing in all the land in 2020, so, giving him a defense that doesn’t cough up 200+ yard running performances like they’re free samples at Chik-Fil-A should mean the Texans get to double digit wins in 2021.

However, the stench of O’Brien/Easterby is lingering on Kirby Lane and what this franchise needs more than anything right now is some fresh air.

CAPT RON:

The Houston Texans Cookbook

Chapter 1: Charley’s Casserole with Dom Perignon Infused Capers

Chapter 2: Kubiakian Slow Smoked BBQ and Smith Island Slaw

Chapter 3: BOB’s Homemade Vanilla Wafers Crumbled in Milk

Chapter 4: The Shaman, The Casserole and You!

Regarding the latest edition of signing Nick Caserio as the latest GM, I think it is evident that Cal McNair lacks any pioneer spirit whatsoever. He appears to be hell bent on trying to recreate the formula from New England, but the fact is we are now entering a new era of the NFL and that dynasty is in the history books. Cal had an opportunity here to swipe the slate clear and bring in a fresh new organization to break open year 20 of the franchise. Instead, he took the lazy approach by wafting in the vapors of the Patriots past to the great frustration of many Texans fans.

Will it work? Who knows. Who bloody knows. Sure, Nick is at least more qualified, actually well qualified, as a personnel guy in the NFL than that guy who’s melded himself to Cal’s ear, but that also greatly increases the likelihood that Easterby gets to keep his access card to the offices at NRG. If Caserio sends Easterby packing as his first move after taking the helm of the front office, that would possibly bring many skeptical fans back to the table of hope. Even then, Houston fans have reached a breaking point and measurable level of exhaustion with respect to the McNairs’ obvious pursuit of the “Patriots’ Way” for this franchise.

Now that this GM search—HAHAHAHAHAHA! What search?!! Why did they even bother to smoke screen an ad-hoc committee—and selection process is apparently completed. The most important next steps will be the dismissal of Easterby and the selection of a head coach who can design a playbook around Watson’s abilities and fix the defense.

Welcome to Chapter 4 and year 20 of the Houston Texans!

JEREMY BRENER:

The Texans have yearned for Caserio for years, and for whatever reason, he finally makes the move. I understand people’s reservations about hiring him considering his connections with J*** E******* but I think what I’ve seen is that Caserio, who is far more qualified as the GM, is going to take the reins and allow E******* to focus on character development.

As long as someone can retool the defense, that’s all I care about. Let Deshaun do what he does best and focus on giving that man a defense so he doesn’t have to put up 30+ points and lose every week. If Caserio can fix the defense, I’m happy. Deshaun will keep our offense afloat so long as he’s a member of the Texans.

New England appears to be a team that prioritizes defense in drafts and hopefully Caserio can bring that to Houston. Obviously, he’s handicapped with minimal cap space and draft picks, but he wouldn’t have taken the job if he wasn’t capable, and McNair wouldn’t have given him the job if he wasn’t capable.

BIGFATDRUNK:

I don’t mind that Nick Caserio doesn’t have experience as a GM.

What I DO mind is that his only qualifications seem to be that Rasputin likes him and he worked for Bill Belichick.

Worst of all, he seems to be from the BOB fanclub of tough, smart, dependable players. How about if we, you know, had good football players?

UPROOTED TEXAN:

When Bill O’Brien got the boot, I was done with trying to do things “the Patriot way” whatever the hell that is. I wanted a complete sweep of everyone in the front office, starting with Easterby and including anyone with decision making power in the personnel department.

Now, not only are we keeping Easterby around, a person who nobody really knows what he does except schmooze his higher-ups, but we’re doubling down on “the Patriot way” with a guy who loves “tough, smart, dependable” players.

I find it absolutely comical that Cal McNair would spend the money to hire a consulting firm, which I assume is not cheap, to compile of list of people to be the next GM (it should’ve been me, dammit) with, by all accounts, Nick Caserio not being on the list, only for Cal McNair to toss the list aside and hire Caserio anyway.

This is no way to run a railroad. To say I am unhappy about this is to undersell how I feel about it.

As for head coaches, I hear Easterby, Caserio, and Brian Daboll have the same agent, so I have to assume he’s probably the guy. If we’re stuck with Patriots leftovers until the end of time, Daboll is probably the best we can hope for.

TOUGH. SMART. GO TO HELL: