The only alignment needed is with O'Brien's demands, and ego

Brian Gaine isn't the only person Bill O'Brien is running out of town

It was a usual, uneventful early June Friday when the news broke about 4:15pm that the Texans had fired General Manager Brian Gaine just a year and a half into a 5 year deal that the team told us at the time would usher in an era of alignment between coach and GM.

In fact, these were the very words of the late Bob McNair, "Our committee was unanimous in praise for Brian Gaine and we are all aligned in our philosophy on how to continue to build our roster and win a championship. Brian is an incredibly smart, hardworking individual that understands the importance of good communication. We couldn't be more excited about naming him our new general manager."

Gaine and O'Brien had a history of working well together when Gaine was running player personnel for the Texans from 2014-16, and O'Brien stumped for his friend to get the job. Gaine was O'Brien's guy, and together they would build the Texans into the log desired Super Bowl Champion the team and city wants.

That was January 2018.

Fast forward 18 months and D. Cal McNair, now Chairman & CEO of the team, has a different story to tell. While the statement reads of saying nice things about Brian Gaine ("man of high character") there is no denying the obvious in this situation.

Bill O'Brien fired Brian Gaine.

Cal can release the statement and take the hits for what is, as he admitted, highly unusual timing, but the bottom line is Bill O'Brien is the straw that stirs the drink with the Texans, and he and his buddy Gaine were no longer buddies.

There have been reports of "erosion" in the relationship between O'Brien and Gaine, how they weren't seeing eye-to-eye, and how this was the manifestation of many events over a period of time and not one particular flashpoint that happened just Friday.

The relationship between the former friends had definitely soured, and the team was willing to eat 3.5 years of contract to appease O'Brien's ego in the matter.

One of the points of contention, according to sources, is the team's inability to land a significant free agent on the offensive line. O'Brien is said to have really liked former Patriots OT Trent Brown, but the team failed to acquire his services. It comes a year after the team failed to sign another former Patriots OT, Nate Solder, who decided he did not want to reunite with O'Brien despite far lower taxes in Texas than in NYC/North Jersey and world class cancer hospitals for his son right down the road from NRG Stadium.

While one move alone wouldn't damn a team to being a raging dumpster fire of an organization, some still look at the Texans odd firing of Gaine and compare it to the New York Jets firing their GM. The Jets have long been a franchise run like a rudderless ship, and the comparisons to the Jets came in fast and furious. It's not fair to call the Texans the same as the Jets based on one move.

However, if we peel the onion back a bit, we may see things are closer to the jets than you may have thought.

Start with the purging of all their top scouts.

You remember, right after the draft last year, the Texans fired assistant GM Jimmy Raye III (the man hired to replace Gaine when he was fired by Rick Smith). They also fired their director of college scouting Jon Carr, assistant director of college scouting Mike Martin (the man credited with finding Arian Foster & AJ Bouye), college scouting director Matt Jansen, and college scout Seth Turner. Carr and Martin had been with the team over a decade. The Texans trusted them to run the draft and then fired them.

After the draft this year, they fired Frantzy Jourdain, who had been a national scout for the team after serving as a Southeast area scout.

So the team fired a bunch of top scouts, and then fired the GM. That doesn't sound like a recipe for success, does it? Maybe the comparisons to the Jets have merit after all.

Let's make matters worse, shall we?

There have been several sources that have indicated to me that many players on the team do not like Bill O'Brien. Two sources even used the term "hate."

That's when this little nugget got dropped on me:

"Bill O'Brien is running Clowney out of town."

At the end of March, O'Brien said "I really have a great fondness for Jadeveon Clowney," at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix. However, that may not be the real case.

According to several sources, O'Brien is not a fan of Clowney's approach to the game, and feels that Clowney didn't work hard enough last season in returning from surgery. I guess we know for sure where the comments about Clowney not being "the worker bee" some of his defensive teammates (JJ Watt) are came from.

You may also recall the comments from O'Brien in Clowney's rookie season on how JD needed to learn to play with pain, and the team questioned his desire to play in regards to a knee injury he suffered Week 1. He then returned to the team only to make the knee injury significantly worse, and need microfracture surgery. Clowney then returned to the field the following year from microfracture surgery faster than any player in the history of the league. Maybe the accounting of his lack of work ethic is overstated?

The disdain that O'Brien has for Clowney has apparently been simmering for years, and Clowney is wise to it. As a result, Clowney will not give the Texans the contractual discount they are asking of him. He wants to get paid full market rate, and O'Brien isn't happy about it.

It's also why the Texans shopped Clowney this offseason. Sources said if the Texans could have gotten a "Khalil Mack type of deal" for Clowney, they would have pulled the trigger in a heartbeat.

Instead, Clowney waits on the franchise tag without real negotiations going on (the intended point of the franchise tag was to foster ongoing negotiations, not be a tool that forces one year deals) and is holding out as a result.

All of that leaves Houston with a team without a true General Manager, a Head Coach in charge who allegedly isn't liked by many players, a void in scouting, a top player being left to twist in the wind contractually, and an offensive line that is in flux, at best.

One of the biggest failures of O'Brien's tenure is that he hasn't developed any young offensive linemen. The team is now trusting him to develop a bunch of young offensive linemen, they don't have a highly productive veteran on the line, and they don't have a real GM anymore to handle potentially trading for one (Trent Williams).

JJ Watt's Hall of Fame career is about to enter his ninth season at age 30, with two major injuries in his recent past, DeAndre Hopkins is entering his seventh season firmly established as one of the elite WRs in the game, and we are looking at a team that could be wasting both of their careers.

Deshaun Watson was sacked a league high 62 times last season (that's the fifth highest total ALL TIME) and we have no idea if the line will be any better this season.

There are a ton of things we don't know about the Texans heading into this year, but one huge thing we do know:

Bill O'Brien, who is four games over .500 in his five years in Houston and has one playoff win (against a team that was forced to start its third string rookie QB due to injuries), the same man who threatened to leave the team seemingly every year to try to win a power struggle with former GM Rick Smith, is going to hire another GM because Cal McNair has deemed Bill O'Brien the man in charge, for better or for worse.

Forgive me if all the indicators seem to say worse.

Patrick Creighton is the host of "Late Hits" weeknights 7-9p on ESPN 97.5 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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