When we talk about dysfunctional sports franchises, the term “dumpster fire” gets thrown about pretty often. It’s an accurate description for many teams. Just a big ol’ stinking pile of burning garbage. However, what we have in the Houston Texans is something different, something wholly unique, ugly, and downright disgraceful. My friends, what we have is a big, fat gasoline fight and, surely, there’s no way that this is going to end well…
For those of you who’ve never seen 2001’s Zoolander, you’re probably wondering, “What the hell is he talking about, and what the hell is that GIF?” Antics aside, the Houston Texans have spent the better part of the past year ripping out every serviceable piece of their franchise in spite of their own face. Whether it be trading off their best players, ill-advised free agent deals, or alienating themselves from the one individual who can keep them competitive in a league built on parity, the Texans seem hell-bent on initiating their own destruction.
How Did the Houston Texans Get Here?
From 2015-2019, the Texans won four of five divisional titles, but failed to ever advance past the divisional round. Frustrating, sure, but you had one of the best passer/receiver combinations in the NFL in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. Winning with that duo is a pretty simple formula (going all the way back to their college days at Clemson). You have a great quarterback and you have a generational talent at wide receiver. Don’t. Screw. It. Up.
Unfortunately for the Houston Texans, the organization made the mistake of putting their entire franchise into ol’ ham-hands himself, former head coach Bill O’Brien. Look, I don’t think O’Brien is a terrible coach. You can’t be a terrible coach and get your team to the playoffs four out of five years. As a general manager, however, O’Brien is downright awful. There are several moves that we can point to if we want to indict him on his awful roster management. In case you forgot, there’s this little nugget:
WRs traded away for a 1st round pick:
Percy Harvin ✅
Roy Williams ✅
Joey Galloway ✅
Peerless Price ✅
Keyshawn Johnson ✅
Brandin Cooks ✅
Brandin Cooks again ✅
Amari Cooper ✅
Odell Beckham Jr. ✅
Randy Moss ✅
DeAndre Hopkins ❌
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) March 16, 2020
Or how about when O’Brien was only able to pull out a third-rounder for Jadeveon Clowney:
— NFLTradeRumors.co (@nfltrade_rumors) August 31, 2019
Yeesh. Not a good track record. Look, not every coach can be Bill Belichick. I get it; you want that “do-it-all” commander of your franchise. Someone who will not only coach the team up, but handle the construction of your player personnel. It’s a pipedream, though. We’ve seen this same story play out time and time again. Bill O’Brien. Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. Mike Shanahan in Washington. John Harbaugh back when he was with the 49ers. Investing too much responsibility into a single individual, placing the head coach in charge of not only putting the best product on the field but also determining how that product is to be made and financed, is a recipe for disaster. What happened in Houston needs to be a cautionary tale for franchises in the future. STOP ALLOWING YOUR HEAD COACHES TOO MUCH POWER IN THIS SITUATION!
Placing Blame and Identifying the Problem
If I’m @deshaunwatson I will stand my ground. The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!!!
— Andre Johnson (@johnson80) January 12, 2021
It’s telling when one of the top three players to ever suit up for your franchise takes to his Twitter account to put you on blast for the decisions you’ve made over the past few years. It’s even more telling when you take into account that Andre Johnson has put out a grand total of four tweets since April of 2019 and three of them were related to his sponsorship of Crown Royal. Obviously, he’s got some strong feelings on this topic. Coming from him, you should probably take note.
Like an idiot dousing himself with gasoline and then lighting a cigarette, the Houston Texans have brought their demise entirely on themselves. It feels like Bill O’Brien was trying to prove a point when he traded away DeAndre Hopkins prior to the 2020 season. It was as if he was saying, “Look, everyone thinks that Nuk is the only reason we can be competitive. I’ll show them.” That’s the wrong mentality to have, though, particularly when you’re in charge of player personnel.
This situation mirrors that currently in Philadelphia with Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie pushing Doug Pederson out the door as if to prove that they were the reason the Eagles won the Super Bowl back in ’17. NFL front offices can’t let their egos get in the way of business. You’re just going to hamstring your ability to compete for years to come. What’s going on in Houston and Philly, it all boils down to incompetence in the front office and with those making the most critical decisions for your franchise. Players. Coaches. Front office. You have to be on the same page to be successful.
Blame can be doled out in many directions with this franchise. Whether it be at Jack Easterby, Bill O’Brien, or the McNair family, there’s more than enough blame to fill everyone’s plate. This franchise is, at this point, beyond repair and it’s going to be a long time before the damage caused by the past few seasons can be undone. I do believe that Deshaun Watson has already played his last game for the Texans now that virtually all bridges have been burned. So much of this could’ve been avoided if the Texans had just listened to him. I get that, as an organization, you might not want to let the players be the impetus behind your decision-making, but this is your franchise QB we’re talking about. You’ve already pissed him off by trading away Nuk. Stop holding him back by making boneheaded decisions in management.
This past week’s release of JJ Watt only further distances the Houston Texans from their recent successful history. It’s shocking to think that this team held a 24-0 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs not even two years ago in the Divisional Round. How did we fall so hard, so quickly? This can’t be a quick rebuild seeing as the Texans won’t have a first or second-round pick in 2021 (thanks, Miami). Houston fans, I hope you’re ready to suffer as you did from 2002-2006 because it’s going to be a rocky road ahead of you with little hope on the horizon.