Every-Thing Sports

Texans GM by committee: Why it will and won't work

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Often times, sports can be a copycat forum. Whether it's trying to replicate an offense, defense, philosophy, or outright style biting, we rarely see anything original. Sports sometimes take their cues from Hollywood. How many remakes of old movies and ideas have we seen? Or, how many different iterations of a successful movie franchise will we continue to get shoved down our throats? (I'm looking at you Fast And Furious. But I'm going to see the new one anyway.)

Every so often, we'll get the pleasure of a trailblazer. Someone who stands out against the crowd and prefers to do something so out of the box, we may choose to fully embrace the different approach, or, we may choose to mock the out of the box ideas. The Texans have chosen to blaze their own trail and go with a general manager by committee for the upcoming season. They came to this conclusion (forced into it) after a failed attempt to woo Nick Caserio away from the Patriots amidst tampering charges. Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Chris Olsen, and Jamey Rootes will all play a part in fulfilling the role of GM. I go back and forth as to whether they've made the right decision and whether or not it'll work. Let's take a look at a few reasons to support both sides of the argument:

Will Work: Three or four heads better than one

Texans Chairman and CEO D. Cal McNair

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Think back to when you were in school. I know that may be difficult for some of us that are long removed from those days. What was one of your favorite type of assignments? Typically, group assignments were fun because you got to collaborate with others on a project. It worked best if you chose your own group because you knew everyone would pull their weight. This may be the case here, as long as there are clear cut lines in which each person will operate and how tough decisions will be made.

Won't Work: Too many sheriffs, not enough cops

Texans EVP of Team Development Jack Easterby

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Those same group projects have also been known to cause division, friction, and make getting a good grade nearly impossible. All of the guys on this committee have primary responsibilities. Now they have to take on extra duties. This can lead to some lacking in areas of each of their jobs. We've all experienced a collaborative effort gone wrong. Whether someone didn't pull their weight, or someone was a control freak, there's always a chance of something going awry when multiple people have to come together for a common goal, especially when you're dealing with a bunch of alpha males used to being the in charge of their own lane but forced to cooperate and collaborate with others.

Will Work: Everyone's seats are hot

Texans President Jamey Rootes

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I grew up respecting the knowledge older people could pass along. I may not have always listened to what they said, but I most definitely absorbed those lessons. One saying I remember and still hold onto is "pressure can make a diamond or crack a pipe." The former is why I think this setup will work. When former GM Brian Gaine was fired late into this offseason, it put everyone on notice that their jobs are also on the line. If this group can feel that heat and use it to fuel them positively, this GM by committee thing can work.

Won't Work: No blueprint or copycat source

Texans Senior VP of Football Operations Chris Olsen

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Like I said previously, sports are a copycat forum. Usually, there's someone somewhere that's done it before that you can get a few pointers from. Hell, the Texans organization has been trying to replicate what the Patriots have done for almost their whole existence! However, there hasn't been an example that I can think of in which any sports franchise has had a committee of people fill the role of GM instead of a single person. When you have an example to follow, it's similar to having directions on assembling a toy you've bought for your kid. Next time you try putting something together, do it without the instructions and see how easy/difficult it could be.

While the draft and the bulk of free agency has come and gone, there's always work a GM is doing that will help his team. There are always players on other teams to watch in case they're cut. There's also college players to keep an eye on for the upcoming draft, as well as a multitude of other duties an NFL GM has on a daily basis. Information funneled through one person and sent out to others is much more concise than being funneled through several and sent out to many.

Signals can get crossed. Critical steps or info can get missed and/or overlooked. However, we don't know if this will or won't work because we have nothing to base it off of. We will have to wait and see how this plays out. Who knows? We may be on the verge of something new and innovative in sports. We could also be seeing a disaster the likes of which we've never seen. Let's wait and see what happens before we pass judgement.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

When I think of Bill O'Brien I often think back to a movie we've all seen but may not admit to - the 1996 film Matilda. Matilda's dad (played by Danny DeVito) must have had a profound impact on O'Brien as a young man. I imagine a then-27-year-old Bill sitting down and hearing the line that seemingly guides him to this day, which is when Matilda's dad looks down on her and tells her: "I'm smart, you're dumb; I'm big, you're little; I'm right, you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it."

It's all about perspective. As we all know, DeVito is a micro man and he seized his one opportunity to accurately use the "big-little" line on his young, tiny co-star. I get the sense Bill's perspective is that he thinks he's the dad in this scenario and the rest of the league is sweet little Matilda, but a detailed look into the list of quarterbacks he's beaten as a head coach loudly suggests that he's more likely to be the one with the little blue dress and red ribbon in his hair.

I recently argued that Bill O'Brien has only beaten two quarterbacks that (in most people's minds) would be considered "elite." That would be Drew Brees and Andrew Luck. However, since the term "elite" is so subjective, I instead decided to state my case using Total QBR (Quarterback Rating), a widely accepted measuring stick for individual quarterback performance.

I took a look at every QB Bill O'Brien has beaten since the start of his head coaching career in 2014 and their corresponding QBR. Since his career spans five seasons and each quarterback's performance varies year to year, I used the QBR for the corresponding season in which that QB lost to the Texans. Per ESPN.com (the creators of Total QBR), a rating of 50 is considered "Average" while a rating of 75 and above is considered "Pro Bowl Level" (Keep that in mind). I've divided the results into four tiers to give a better idea of the 'quality' of quarterback play O'Brien has had most of his success against. For added perspective, I've also included what BOB's win-loss record is against each tier. This will give the complete picture of how much success he's had against every QB he's faced, based on which tier they fell into at the time.

Not counting the first two games of the 2019 season, his career win-loss record (including postseason) is 43-41. Does that not perfectly sum up what the Texans have seemingly always been, the Kings of Average? Well what's NOT average is his record against high quality quarterbacks. Take a look.

Note*: Each QBR is season-based, so some quarterbacks (i.e. divisional foes) will be listed numerous times since they've been beaten across multiple seasons.

TIER 4 (<50 Total QBR - The "Below Average" Class): Record vs. Tier 4 level QBs: 20-10

Connor Cook - 14.7

EJ Manuel - 26.0

Jay Cutler - 28.1

Robert Griffin III - 28.7

Blaine Gabbert - 34.0

Brock Osweiler - 34.5

Brian Hoyer - 38.7

Kevin Hogan - 39.4

Derek Carr - 42.1

Case Keenum - 44.5

Andy Dalton - 44.8 in 2017

Matt Hasselbeck - 45.1

Sam Darnold - 45.9

Alex Smith - 46.9 in 2018

Josh Allen - 49.8

Zach Mettenberger - 33.7 in 2014, 20.3 in 2015

Blake Bortles - 28.0 in 2014, 43.0 in 2016, 43.4 in 2018 (Really Jags, you extended this guy?!)

Summary: Bill O'Brien makes sweet, soft love to rookies, broken things, and happy-just-to-hold-a-clipboard guys. Oh, and Andy Dalton.

​TIER 3 (50.0 - 59.9 Total QBR - The "Just Good Enough to Keep a Starting Job" Class): Record vs. Tier 3 level QBs: 8-8

Baker Mayfield - 51.2

Blake Bortles - 51.4 in 2015

Andy Dalton - 52.3 in 2016

Dak Prescott - 55.2

Jameis Winston - 57.2

Marcus Mariota - 59.1 in 2016, 58.6 in 2017, 53.2 in 2018

Summary: O'Brien can generally handle the over-hyped but still-developing young QBs. And of course, Andy Dalton.

TIER 2 (60.0 - 69.9 Total QBR - The "Flashes of Greatness" Class): Record vs. Tier 2 QBs: 7-18

Alex Smith - 60.8 in 2016

Ryan Fitzpatrick - 62.0

Matt Stafford - 65.2

Andrew Luck - 65.9 in 2016, 69.6 in 2018

Drew Brees - 66.8 (*Sustained* Greatness)

Joe Flacco - 68.6

Summary: So Bill CAN beat some guys that aren't total trashcans, but ratings under 70 suggest they weren't at their best in those seasons, or that even their best is still not "Pro Bowl Level".

Hmm, no Andy Dalton?

TIER 1 (>70.0 Total QBR - The "Cream of the Crop, Best of the-What?!" Class): Record vs. Tier 1 level QBs: 1-5

Andy Dalton - 72.5 in 2015

END. BLEEPING. LIST.

Summary: The Red Rifle?! Put some respect on that man's name! Making Katy proud!

Conclusion: Andy Dalton is the only quarterback Bill O'Brien has EVER beaten with a QBR over 70 for that particular season in which he won. Andy. Freakin'. Dalton.

Not so good

Interestingly enough you may notice that not one single quarterback on the list was considered a "Pro Bowl Level" quarterback when O'Brien faced him. No, your mighty leader of the Texans has never beaten the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, or Matt Ryan, just to name a few.

Other things of note.. let's take a look at how my original argument for Brees and Luck fared. The 66.8 QBR for Brees is tied for his second lowest rating since 2009, so the Texans did beat him but clearly in a year where he wasn't at his best (but let's be fair, 66.8 is still very respectable). As for the late, great Andrew Luck, his 69.6 QBR from last season is his best, but the win O'Brien got to claim? Hardly a win at all. You may recall a first time head coach (looking at you, Frank Reich) gift-wrapping that game in OT for the Texans. If not for that, last season's version of Luck would be removed from this list, further strengthening the point.

That being said, his 65.9 rating in 2016 is his second best career rating, so that win over him is legit.

Here's where it gets ugly. Of all the QBs O'Brien has beaten, only three of those teams went on to win their division in that respective season. That is to say, three out of his 42 regular season wins (a whopping 7.14%) were against eventual playoff-bound teams in his five seasons as head coach. And only four other teams beyond that were able to snag a wildcard (that's still only 16.7%). As for the postseason, you may remember his only win being against rookie Connor Cook who, if you refer back to Tier 4, is your winner for worst QBR of any quarterback O'Brien has ever faced, with a dismal 14.7.

The bottom line

For a look at how the above mentioned quarterbacks fared against their peers for each of the past five seasons, here's a quick glance at who all cracked the top 10 in Total QBR in their respective season that they were beaten by BOB.

2014- Joe Flacco - 8th in Total QBR

2015- Andy Dalton - 3rd, Ryan Fitzpatrick - 7th, Drew Brees - 10th

2016- Andrew Luck - 7th, Matt Stafford - 8th, Alex Smith - 10th

2018- Andrew Luck - 5th

That's a grand total of eight. And only ONE of them cracked the top 3 in a season (we see you, Andy). So if last year's 11-win season felt phony, it turns out that only 1 of their 11 wins was against a top 10 QB that season, and that was the (not) win over Andrew Luck in OT.

As a Texans fan, this is a hard pill to swallow. To see so glaringly, that the leader of your team, your organization really, is the little girl with a red ribbon and psychokinetic abilities. The silver lining? If he's willing to accept who he is, then maybe he can tap into those superpowers and magically navigate the Texans to their first AFC Championship game this season. Either that, or hope he faces Andy Dalton 18 times.

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