CAUSE FOR PAUSE

If you listen close enough, you can hear the Texans bungling this

It's hard to trust Nick Caserio after hiring David Culley. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

“She ys fals [is false]; and ever laughynge, with oon eye, and that other wepynge” - 14th-century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales.

“To laugh and cry both with a breath” – William Shakespeare in Venus and Adonis.

“We don’t know whether to laugh or cry” – Houston Texans fans listening to general manager Nick Caserio’s postmortem for the team’s dismal 2021 season.

They all say the same thing: we’d laugh if it didn’t hurt so much.

Most of Caserio’s press conference last week had the general manager clumsily defending why he hired David Culley as head coach and fired David Culley as head coach less than one year later.

Caserio repeatedly insisted that he thought Culley was the right man for the job a year ago, and stood by the hire. He said, “I think we’re in a lot better position now. I think that is because of the leadership and guidance that (Culley) provided. I have a lot of personal respect and appreciation and admiration for what he did for this team.”

But now Caserio had philosophical differences with Culley so the one-and-done coach had to go.

Is this any way to run an NFL franchise? The Pittsburgh Steelers have employed only three head coaches in the past 52 years. The Texans have had four head coaches in the last 15 months: Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel, David Culley and “who’s next?” The Texans still will be paying off O’Brien and Culley’s contracts this upcoming season. In Culley’s case, they’re on the hook for his money three more years.

Listening to Caserio’s deflective mumbo jumbo, I kept thinking … “You’re the guy who hired Culley. What’s your responsibility here? Munschausen by proxy much? You picked a guy who’s been in football more than four decades, 27 years in the NFL, without ever being named a coordinator let alone a head coach. You hired a guy who stood on the sidelines with a puzzled look on his face, who didn’t seem to comprehend football rules, who ran an undisciplined locker room, who failed to establish a presence in the community. Who inherited a 4-12 team and left a 4-13 team. And you think this is a ‘better position?’ You don’t see a glass half full, you must see the entire Waterford stemware collection.”

Culley’s biggest failure wasn’t in the NFL standings. He put a lackluster, dull, unimaginative and frustratingly predictable product on the field. They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. Well, the largest city in football-crazy Texas simply gave up on its team. Fans who spent thousands of dollars on tickets decided not to show up for games. They just stopped caring. That’s the opposite of love.

And things may get more frustrating next year. The Deshaun Watson dilemma may not be resolved with a simple trade for a haul of draft picks in the near future. Some legal analysts believe the 22 civil cases against Watson may be headed to court and if verdicts go against Watson he may end up on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list – still a Texan and sidelined for a second season.

The NFL coaching trend is toward younger, creative offensive minds and big personalities like Sean McVay, who was only 30 when the Los Angeles Rams hired him in 2017. Kliff Kingsbury was 39 when the Cardinals hired him in 2019. You might have seen McVay and Kingsbury battling in the playoffs Monday night. Packers coach Matt LaFleur is 42. Bengals coach Zac Taylor is 38.

Everyone says the same thing about Culley – he’s a nice guy. You know what they say about nice guys, right? They finish next to last in the AFC South, thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars being even more dysfunctional than the Texans.

So far the Texans have interviewed recently fired Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, former Texans QB Josh McCown, and former Steelers receiver Hines Ward. Others reportedly on the “to do” list: Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

Do you trust Caserio to make the right choice this time? The most important decision an NFL general manager makes is hiring a successful head coach. Caserio is a huge 0-1. Most of the Texans’ wish list candidates are being interviewed by other teams, too. There are eight head coach openings and the consensus opinion among NFL insiders is that the Texans position is the least attractive. Why? As ESPN’s Michael Wilbon so eloquently and bluntly put it, the Texans are a “fraud” and “the franchise is a joke.” But it hurts too much to laugh.

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This week, we react to Laremy Tunsil's absence from Houston Texans OTAs and wonder if he really loves football or if he just loves what football provides him. Tunsil was given more money in the off-season after reworking his contract, and this is coming off a season when Tunsil was only supposed to miss four or five games after suffering a thumb injury in October. But Tunsil missed the rest of the season, which had many fans and media scratching their heads.

Finally, because of Tunsil's apparent disinterest in being with the team, it might be time for the Texans to trade Tunsil, and get something in return before likely cutting him next off-season.

Check out the video to watch the full conversation.

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