Brian Gaine had a decent draft. Houstontexans.com
The Houston Texans announced Friday they have fired the team's general manager Brian Gaine after just one and half years as the team's general manager.
The Texans statement
With the comment in the release about Gaine's high character it seems unlikely a scandal is on the horizon. Chris Olsen is a well-respected cap expert around the NFL and he, along with I assume Bill O'Brien's influence, will run the team with Gaine gone.
On the #Texans GM firing: My understanding is there was no one incident that created the opening. Houston did an evaluation of its football operations and believes — right or wrong — GM Brian Gaine was not good enough. Good, but not good enough. Stunning.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 7, 2019
Bill O'Brien and Brian Gaine often talked about the alignment of the organization, something that seemingly wasn't the case with the team's previous general manager Rick Smith. Unless there is a scandal, as we mentioned above is unlikely, it seems something went south between O'Brien and what was viewed as his hand-picked front office guy in Gaine.
O'Brien hasn't had a poor relationship with any of the players Gaine has brought it, in fact, plenty of the players Gaine drafted played early and avoided the dog house rookies often find themselves in with O'Brien.
Cal McNair is not his father
The new man at the top is Cal McNair after his father passed away. Bob McNair would have never done this. He was one of the most patient owners in the NFL. It was often said O'Brien and former GM Rick Smith would come to a disagreement Bob McNair would make them work together and fix it. Ultimately the situation between those two became so toxic O'Brien was entertaining a return to college and Smith stepped down when his wife became sick leading to Brian Gaine to take over.
What does this mean for Bill O'Brien?
I believe this only further consolidates Bill O'Brien's power within the organization. Gaine was seen as an O'Brien guy so with the timing of him leaving, June has most of the roster building completed, O'Brien is the man in the building who knows the team best. Even if the Texans add a new general manager quickly O'Brien should maintain near full power until he becomes intimately familiar with the team and their process.
With the added power, the pressure is on for O'Brien. If the new ownership will fire an important piece of the front office with over three years left on his contract there is no reason to think O'Brien can't be a victim if he fails in 2019. It wouldn't be shocking to learn there is a level he needs to achieve to maintain his job.
Who is the next Texans GM?
Bill O'Brien could use some fresh voices. He has leaned towards people he has previously worked with in the past but something new wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Nick Caserio is the New England Patriots Director of Player Personnel. He was pursued by the Texans before Gaine was hired and declined an attempt interview. I don't imagine he would be leaving his spot in New England.UPDATE: The Texans announced they will no longer pursue Caserio.
Dallas Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel Will McClay is one of the best in the business but he is with a pseudo-rival and the Jones family loves him. I don't see how he gets away.
Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas has been in contact with the New York Jets about their vacant GM job. It is unclear the status of their pursuit of Douglas. If he is still available he should get an interview.UPDATE: Douglas has been hired by the Jets.
Browns assistant general manager Eliot Wolf just got to Cleveland but is blocked by John Dorsey. He was well respected in the Packers organization before leaving for Cleveland when he didn't get the Packers general manager job.
Scott Pioli was with the Atlanta Falcons as recently as last month before he resigned his post of the assistant general manager. He was the general manager in Kansas City when Romeo Crennel was the head coach and was with the Patriots going as high as the vice president of player personnel.
After Houston fell to the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of the ALCS, the national media couldn't wait to pile on the Astros, their dynasty, and fanbase. A perfect example of this came from Dan Clark, who said the Astros choked or cheated in every season outside of 2022.
The Houston Astros have been great for nine years, but how will history look back at them, winning it all just once?
'15 - ALDS choke
'16 - Missed playoffs
'17 - Cheated
'18 - ALCS choke
'19 - World Series choke
'20 - ALCS choke
'21 - World Series choke
'22 - 💍
'23 - ALCS choke
— Dan Clark (@DanClarkSports) October 24, 2023
Clearly, this take is totally ridiculous. Every time a team loses, it doesn't mean they choked. Sometimes the other team is better, and you just got beat. However, if you asked most fans, they would probably tell you the Astros had some great opportunities and weren't able to cash in.
So, just for fun, let's go through Dan's list and discuss if he has a point. And these are just my opinions below. I'm sure plenty of Astros fans will feel differently, and that's fine. John and I don't agree on all of these in the video above, so be sure to watch for the full discussion.
With that disclaimer out of the way, off we go.
2015: These were the baby Astros. Nobody expected them to get to the division series against the Royals. Houston went 70-92 the previous season, so this was a big jump in 2015. They lost to the Royals in 5 games in the ALDS and Kansas City went on to win the World Series over the Mets, taking the series 4 games to 1. The Astros did lead this series 2-1, but lost Games 4 and 5 pretty convincingly. Not a choke.
2016: Didn't even make the playoffs, further proving 2015 wasn't a choke. This team wasn't ready yet. They exceeded expectations in 2015 and took a step back in 2016. Not a choke.
2017: Won the World Series. While Dan will say it doesn't count because they cheated, I say, at least they won. Houston fans are well aware the Dodgers and Yankees had their own style of funny business going on in the video rooms, too. At least the Astros didn't cheat AND lose that year. They won the title so clearly, not a choke.
2018: Boston won the most games in baseball during the regular season (108). They won the ALCS 4 games to 1 over Houston and went on to win the World Series. The ALCS series wasn't close, and Jose Altuve had knee surgery immediately following the season. Boston was later punished by MLB for cheating in 2018. Not a choke.
2019: He might have a point here. This was the best roster the Astros ever had in my opinion. Houston never won a home game in this World Series. Heading home with a 3-2 lead in the series, the Astros were unable to close the deal against the Nationals (sounds familiar). The Astros won 107 games in the regular season, more than any other team. The top of their rotation was Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. They choked.
2020: This was the weird covid season. The Astros didn't have a winning record in the regular season and got down 3-0 to the Rays in the ALCS. Houston won three straight and lost in Game 7. Both Justin Verlander and Yordan Alvarez were injured and unavailable that year. Not a choke.
2021: The Braves were just better and won the World Series in 6 games. Atlanta hammered Houston 7-0 in Game 6, securing the series. Lance McCullers was the ace of this squad and hurt his arm in the ALDS. Verlander didn't pitch in 2021. Not a choke.
2022: Astros win the World Series in 6 games against Philly.
2023: This one I could be convinced either way. I lean to it not being a choke because this team barely made the playoffs, winning just 90 games. They finished with the same record as the Rangers, and won the division because of head-to-head record. The Astros were down 2-0 in the series to start.
However, they did return to Houston up 3-2 needing only 1 win in 2 games to advance. But once again, the Astros couldn't win a game at home, and lost the series in 7 games. They also went 2-14 with runners in scoring position in Game 7, so that looks pretty bad. Inconsistency plagued this team all season, and it showed up again in the ALCS.
I'm willing to say the 2019 World Series against the Nationals was a choke for the reasons I listed above. And I'm kinda on the fence about 2023. The Rangers were the better team for most of the regular season, but not winning 1 game at home in the ALCS is hard to ignore.
Maybe you can convince me one way or the other in the comments! Go 'Stros!