Texans continue to make off-field news for all the wrong reasons
It's hard to know what the Texans are as an organization right now. While every team has off-field controversies and issues, the Texans have taken it to a new level over the past few months. They have made significantly more news off the field than on it, and most of it has not been good. While things might still work out this season, the off-season has made them look disorganized, rudderless and like they are flying by the seat of their pants.
The issues probably started with the draft, when the Eagles traded up one spot ahead of the Texans to take tackle Andre Dillard. The Texans then took Tytus Howard, who was not nearly as highly regarded. Reports since then are that the Texans were never that high on Dillard, but that was likely spin control. They got out-maneuvered for a player who could have helped immediately.
All hell breaks lose
In the time after, the Texans fired GM Brian Gaine, who had barely been on the job for more than a year. Gaine had been head coach Bill O'Brien's hand-picked choice. A few days later, a lawsuit came out alleging racist practices by the Texans. While the lawsuit may or may not have merit, it was yet another bad look.
Things looked even worse when they team tried to pursue New England's Nick Caserio, who was still under contract.
After that, they simply decided not to have a GM. While it may work, again, yet another bad look.
Then they punted on running back D'Onta Foreman, a third-round pick from just three years ago, necessitating a trade with Cleveland to get Duke Johnson, which could cost them another third round pick. While a good move, once again, the optics are poor.
One of the reported issues with Gaine was how to deal with Jadeveon Clowney's contract situation. Clowney is on the franchise tag and has yet to report. Rumors have begun to swirl that the team is looking to trade him. Of course, with rumors, you have to wonder where they come from. Clowney's agents? O'Brien's people often leak info that makes him look favorable. Did they do it to see what the reaction would be?
Regardless, the entire situation is yet another bad look. If they had decided to move on from Clowney, the time to trade him would have been before the draft. It's unlikely you can get fair value for him now. Yes, if you could get a legitimate offensive tackle or lead cornerback, it might be worth it. But are those players really available?
The smart move would be to simply wait for Clowney to report, play him this season, tag him a second time and trade him next year when you get more value. But who is making that decision? O'Brien? The mysterious Jack Easterby? Cal McNair?
Let's not forget Cal McNair's corporate speak description of the GM arrangement. "It's a flatter organization with a faster management style," he said. "The organization is totally re-energized with a team-based approach and new leadership based on sub programs with each sub program being fully optimized as a goal.
"I know it's a lot, but it's a lot of improvements and we can't wait to get out of the office on the fields and get back to winning football games."
"Flatter" organization. "Sub programs." Word salad. Will all that lead to the right decisions? Who knows? The no-GM thing might actually work. Depending on how the Clowney situation plays out, of course. Otherwise, it's just another bad look for a team that is making more noise off the field that on it.
One of the biggest mistakes pro sports franchise owners make is trying to run it like their other successful businesses. McNair is talking like just such an owner. And more voices will mean more leaks. None of this will matter if the team succeeds on the field. But with one bad look after another? Fans should be concerned.
Will McNair be right? Will they get back to winning football games? For now, that has become a sub plot. Or a sub program. Whatever it is, if the Texans fail on the field, it will be the worst look of all.