The Houston Texans aren’t making the same mistakes in 2021.
They’re just making all new ones.
Newly hired general manager Nick Caserio is getting his first crack at running an NFL front office after spending the last 19 years inside the New England Patriots organization, playing a key role in the club’s six Super Bowl champions and sundry AFC East titles they keep as doorstops throughout the facility.
The 45-year-old has more to do than fix a team that finished 4-12. Caserio has some issues that need to be resolved before he can even begin to fix the Texans.
1. Win over Deshaun Watson
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The three-time Pro Bowler is giving his organization the cold shoulder after the hiring of Caserio. Already, Watson doesn't view Caserio as "his guy." According to an Adam Schefter report, the Texans had two general manager candidates in the Pittsburgh Steelers' Omar Khan and ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Louis Riddick as the finalists as chosen by Cal McNair's search firm. Yet, McNair went with Caserio anyway. Watson is on vacation, but hasn't returned the Texans' calls. The longer the comms are down between the two sides, the worse it could get.
2. Resolve the Jack Easterby situation
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Easterby's foray into the Texans organization was as "executive vice president of team development" on April 2, 2019. Next thing you know, general manager Brian Gaine is fired on June 7. Jadeveon Clowney holds out and gets traded at the end of preseason. Easterby gets promoted to executive vice president of football operations in January, along with coach Bill O'Brien doubling up as general manager. DeAndre Hopkins gets traded to start 2020 free agency. O'Brien gets fired on Oct. 5, Easterby named interim general manager. Nick Caserio, Easterby's friend, gets hired as general manager though he was not a leading candidate as recommended by the search firm. McNair said that once a new general manager was hired, Easterby would "go back to football ops," according to an interview with Marc Vandermeer in October. Of course, Easterby doesn't have to go back to executive vice president of football operations; Caserio could just fire his friend — easier said than done. The status of Easterby is one of the questions that is affecting the morale of fans and possibly the players. Caserio has to clarify Easterby's role soon.
3. Hire the right coach
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Brian Daboll makes the most sense as he has connections to Caserio and the Patriots organization. But what if Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, already a favorite with Deshaun Watson and safety Justin Reid, is the right fit? Though there are no Patriots connections with Bieniemy, Caserio has to forge the right connection in order to get the players on-board with the new coaching staff. The coaching hire is the last move that will either win back the locker room or continue the indignation that will stew all throughout the offseason.
4. Keep or release J.J. Watt
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Watt is in the last year of his contract; there is no more guaranteed money left on his deal. It is the perfect opportunity to make a break with the 31-year-old who had 5.0 sacks through 16 games last year, the lowest of his career through a full 16-game slate. Does Watt consider the Texans a rebuild? If so, does he want to be a part of it? Would he rather go? Where? What kind of compensation would the Texans get in return?