Texans GM in the spotlight with the draft approaching

Brian Gaine: All eyes on you at the NFL Draft

Houstontexans.com

Texans GM Brian Gaine is a disciple of the Bill Parcells tree of coaching and football operations. He would rather speak softly, stay out of the public eye and make decisions as necessary without much fanfare or attention. He has done that for most of his career, as the right-hand man to several general managers like Rick Smith, doing the research and dirty work behind the scenes, crunching numbers and reviewing pertinent information. In 2017 he finally got his big break and took the job as Vice President of Player Personnel for the Bills as he was to spearhead the re-build of yet another mediocre roster in Buffalo. Even in his new role, with the big title, it seemed as if he was still waiting for the keys, even though from the outside it looked like he was driving the bus and making the moves for the front office. After a relatively quiet year on the job, Bob McNair and Bill O'Brien came calling, asking him to come back to Houston to replace the guy he once worked for in Smith. Just like that Gaine was headed back to the franchise he helped build for two years, only this time he was going to be front and center, pushing the buttons, pulling the strings and making the moves that hopefully take the Texans to the next level.

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In his first year at the helm, it was pretty uneventful as he was basically doing housekeeping and cleaning up the mess that was left behind by the previous regime. Thanks to a botched move that brought in Brock Osweiler, who was thought to be the quarterback of the future that the team had desperately been searching for, and then the subsequent trade to the Browns that included a top five second round pick as bait to take on the salary and remaining contract, the cupboard was not exactly full. Gaine took a flyer on some journeyman offensive lineman and made a few tweaks here and there while doing his best to salvage a draft that didn't have any high picks and little opportunity to select a franchise changing player, let alone a starter.

Justin Reid and J.J. Watt Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With that said he did find a diamond in the rough in thirdrd round selection Justin Reid, a first-round talent at safety that somehow slipped down the draft board and right into the Texans hands. Reid has been fantastic, starting 13 games last season and looks to only be getting better as he heads into his second year in the league. Aside from Reid, the new GM got what he paid for and paid the price for the bad moves of the past waiting for his turn to make his mark on the franchise and put his stamp on the personnel that fills out his roster for the upcoming season. That time has come and all eyes are on him starting Thursday night.

Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After a relatively uneventful free agency period for Gaine and the Texans that saw more players leave than enter the facility on Kirby, the natives are getting restless in H-town and everyone is waiting for some positive and dare I say big-time additions to this team. As the fans watched career Texan Kareem Jackson walk out the door along with former first-round pick Kevin Johnson and veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu, the secondary became a primary concern.

Deshaun Watson Deshaun Watson takes his act to New York. Tim Warner/Getty Images

That would be a priority all by itself but the below average offensive line took a step back last season from the mediocre unit that was in charge of protecting franchise QB Deshaun Watson two years ago. Gaine tried cheap fixes with journeymen and underachievers and got exactly the results you would have expected. He has brought in another batch of recycled veterans to try and fill the many holes left in those two position groups as we all have patiently watched another off-season unfold with little excitement and a lot to be desired. The next big opportunity starts Thursday night with the first round of the NFL Draft. Gaine and his staff have a tall order to fill as they try and use a full compliment of picks to start to rebuild what was lost and add quality starters and depth to a squad that desperately needs them. Let's hope after the festivities in Nashville conclude and all the picks are in, we can start to see the plan in place taking shape and the improvements and additions on the way in the form of promising young talent poised to be valuable contributors sooner rather than later. With seven total picks including four in the top 90 overall, the time is now to make your mark and the appropriate moves, Mr. Gaine.

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Composite image by Jack Brame.

There's an elephant in the room when it comes to the Houston Texans. No, it's not Bill O'Brien. He's the ominous black cloud that hoovers over the whole building. That cloud is like a slow moving weather system that's constantly dumping rain and flooding the city. Eventually, it'll pass, we'll rebuild and recover from it.

It's not even the McNair family. Cal and Janice are the building itself. It exists, but needs people around and operating it in order for it to fully function. Sure, it could use some work. After all, it's almost twenty years old and could probably use a facelift. It happens when buildings age and are only taken care of or held to minimal standards.

The elephant in the room is Deshaun Watson. More specifically, his progress as a franchise/superstar quarterback. I've heard different people talk about this in one way, shape, form or whatever. AJ and Fred covered it on ESPN Houston's The Blitz. My friend @itsDanielBsr tweeted it and brought it up as well. There were others who talked about this topic, but these were the two places I encountered it in which I could pay closer attention.

When it comes to Watson, most people believe he's a great talent. However, there is a growing sentiment that it's time for him to take the next step. Watson turned 25 on September 14. He signed his four-year extension about a week before his birthday. When you're getting paid like a top quarterback and people recognize you as one of the better young quarterbacks, there comes a time when you need to poop or get off the pot.

When calling Watson to the carpet, people will call O'Brien into question. O'Brien is a factor in holding Watson back some. He's been the play-caller his whole time here in Houston up until this year when he allegedly turned it over to Tim Kelly. We've all seen how that has gone. O'Brien is also the general manager that traded away Watson's top target in DeAndre Hopkins. These type of things can hinder a young quarterback's growth and development, but at what point do we stop blaming O'Brien and start looking at Watson?

Some will point to the offensive line as a key factor as to why Watson isn't progressing. We've seen him escape sacks and create plays out of thin air. But when is it time to call him to the carpet for not going through his reads and/or making a check-down? He often escapes sacks and looks downfield, but should he be looking to scramble more often? Should he be reading progressions better? These intimate details are answers we won't ever get, but we hope we can understand that Watson is making his reads and decisions the way he's supposed to.

Whether it's his big extension, his bumbling idiot of a head coach, his lack of protection, or his lack of weapons, fans will eventually stop giving Watson a pass. Del said it best on ESPN Houston's The Bench: When will people stop bringing up Clemson when talking about Watson's greatness? NFL quarterbacks have their college career talked about in their rookie seasons. After that, it's all about what have you done for me lately. I sincerely hope Watson realizes his tremendous potential. He's a star now and a superstar in the making. The one thing that he needs is the success on the field that will catapult him into the upper echelon of the other top talents at his position. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Pat Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson all have either a league MVP award and/or a Super Bowl ring. If Watson is to be mentioned in that rarefied air, he needs to start taking the necessary steps. The clock is ticking and people are watching. Your move Deshaun.

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