Let's have an honest conversation about the Houston Texans and Sean Payton
For the past few weeks, ever since the Houston Texans fired head coach Lovie Smith, the hot topic on sports talk radio has been: who will the Texans hire as their new coach?
And most of the talk has been: it’d sure be great if the Texans hired Sean Payton.
What on Earth are you talking about?
Payton, who coached the New Orleans Saints for 15 years and one Super Bowl title, interviewed with the Texans earlier this week. He also will meet with the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers about their head coach openings. The Arizona Cardinals have asked for permission to speak with Payton. The Indianapolis Colts also are in the market for a coach.
All of those opportunities are better suited for Payton, who can write his own ticket for a head coaching job.
Why would Payton pick the Texans, a dysfunctional organization that has had four head coaches in the past three years: Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel (interim), David Culley and Lovie Smith? A team that has won only seven games in the past two years? A team that plays its home games in a half-filled stadium? A team without a quarterback? A team that lost the first pick in the draft, and a shot at getting Bryce Young, by thoughtlessly winning its last game of the season, a victory that more and more is looking like a final screw you from its soon-to-be-fired coach.
But fans who want Payton to coach the Texans say, “he would be able to attract big-name free agents to Houston, and he’s the perfect coach to mentor a young quarterback. Look at what he did with Drew Brees in New Orleans.”
First, Vince Lombardi couldn’t lure a star free agent to Houston these days. And Brees was a five-year veteran, a starter for four of those years, and already a Pro Bowl selection, when he joined the Saints.
Payton is looking to put an exclamation point on his Hall of Fame credentials. Why would he want to take over a team in shambles that was an underdog in all 17 of its games last season? He would be an offensive genius for a team without an offense.
Why would the Texans, deep down, want a coach who will demand total authority, cost them a long-term contract worth tens of millions of dollars, plus a first-round draft pick and maybe more?
Why would Texans general manager Nick Caserio, whose own job may be on the hot seat, want to hire a charismatic coach with a big personality who will have more power with the man upstairs? I’m talking about owner Cal McNair, not the only true power that could turn the Texans into winners.
Denver would be a snugger fit for Payton. The Broncos have a competitive defense and quarterback Russell Wilson, who could use some coaching up next season.
So why would Payton accept an interview with the Texans? Perhaps he wants to drive up his price with other teams. Or he’s a Whataburger guy. Or he likes what humidity does for his skin.
The Texans also are considering Thomas Brown (Rams assistant head coach) Jonathan Gannon (Eagles defensive coordinator), Shane Steichen (Eagles offensive coordinator) and DeMeco Ryans (49ers defensive coordinator). Ryans would excite Texans fans but he, like Payton, should have his pick of the coaching litter.