How Texans incessant focus on culture points to a much larger issue
This past week saw another step in the ongoing attempt to change the culture on Kirby. Safety Justin Reid, one of the Texans' best defensive players, was a healthy scratch. Coach David Culley called it a disciplinary issue they handled internally. Rumors quickly came about stating there was a disagreement in a team meeting following the win against the Titans. So now the public is left to wonder what's going on over there? ESPN's Ryan Clark shed some light on the situation this past Sunday.
The @HoustonTexans’ starting safety @JustinqReid will be a healthy scratch today. Sources tell me it isn’t performance related. Coaching staff & Reid had a disagreement recently. That disagreement resulted in the Texans deciding to bench one of their best players! Seems petty pic.twitter.com/WIF4UHZBO8
— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) November 28, 2021
If the public paid close enough attention, you'd know what was going on. This suspension was a part of all the moves they've made over the last several months to establish a culture of falling in line. The trades, the releases, the suspensions, all of them point to the organization laying down the law. Let's be honest. David Culley isn't the kind of coach that can command the type of power and respect to shift the organization's focus while also galvanizing the locker room. He didn't even know where to stand and when to run a team meeting in training camp!
While admirable in thought, the execution is falling short. Nick Caserio, and others to a certain extent, are the ones most feel are truly running things on Kirby. Culley is the figurehead. He's the one that's out in front of the cameras and mics that people see. He's also the one that'll take the blame for things appearing to fall apart. That's what things are looking like now. There were too many moves made that speak to a new direction the team is taking. The difference is, when this has happened before and been successful, the coaches have had a previous track record of success. They even had top tier talent in most cases.
Bill Belichick had Tom Brady and won six rings with different surrounding casts. Pete Carroll turned the Seahawks into a perennial contender with Russell Wilson as his trigger man. Andy Reid is the one that sticks out the most because he did it with Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick with the Eagles, then again with Alex Smith and Pat Mahomes with the Chiefs. Belichick and Brady built multiple dynasties with the same team. Carroll chose to start Wilson over their prized free agent signing that same offseason and the rest is Seahawk history. Reid did it twice each with two different teams! They all established their credibility, then culture. They all had franchise quarterbacks to work with. They all were coordinators and/or previous head coaches prior to finding the ultimate success.
The Texans are attempting to replicate this model with a coach who's never been a coordinator. A franchise quarterback that wants out no matter what. A first-time general manager. An owner who was supposedly groomed for this but isn't up to snuff. All the while their character coach chaplain turned EVP of football ops is lurking. Nobody really commands a room, except Caserio, but he's in the midst of his first run as the guy. Culley seems like a squire who does Caserio's bidding. The message isn't coming in clear because I feel there's a lack of respect behind the actions. Why else would players feel frustrated in this situation? Sure, the losing is detrimental, but perceived lack of direction and respect is more damaging.
Once this team gets the right pieces in place, they'll be fine. From coaches, to players, to personnel, I think it'll get put together sooner rather than later. Meaning, I think they'll be in the playoffs within the next three years. There will be players in place with the pedigree of talent to execute the organization's vision flawlessly. Questions still remain though: Will Culley be around to enjoy it? Will Caserio be allowed to see his vision to completion? Will we ever know what video game Cal was playing? Hopefully we get the answers whenever we see this team winning again.