Texans chairman Cal McNair must choose either Jack Easterby or Deshaun Watson

Mark Lane
·2 min read

In the 2020 offseason, after the Houston Texans’ bizarre opening to the new league year that saw the trading of DeAndre Hopkins, chairman and CEO Cal McNair was at the beginning of a path that would lead to him choosing either coach and general manager Bill O’Brien or franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.

In September, just before the start of the regular season, the Texans inked Watson to a four-year, $177.5 million extension that keeps the former 2017 first-round pick under contract through the 2025 season. The Texans also fired O’Brien on Oct. 5, 2020. McNair made the choice; he picked Watson.

McNair is going to have to make another choice, and it may come sooner than most may think: he will have to pick either Watson or Jack Easterby, executive vice president of football operations.

As has been documented, a franchise quarterback is the most valuable asset in the NFL. It is a quarterback’s game; not a front office macher’s game. The competition committee over the past 20 years hasn’t made the game more advantageous for football operations personnel; they have made it more favorable for quarterbacks. Since 2007, all of the NFL MVPs have been quarterbacks, save for 2012 when Adrian Peterson won the award. However, the living legend at running back couldn’t carry the quarterback-less Minnesota Vikings out of the wild-card round that season.

It can be argued that coaches and front offices put successful systems in place that transcend the play of the quarterback. It was a myth that the Texans believed for the first three seasons of the O’Brien era before investing draft capital to take Watson in 2017. Even the New England Patriots, who have one of the greatest coaches of all-time in Bill Belichick, couldn’t get into the expanded playoffs without competency under center. Who do you think the Patriots miss more: Easterby or Tom Brady?

If Easterby is the impediment that keeps the Texans from winning, he needs to go. If Watson is deemed not a culture fit, then he needs to go for his own sake — or the Texans need to change the culture around him.

“These guys that are quarterbacks are the face of your franchise,” Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman told Dallas-Fort Worth’s 105.3 “The Fan” [KRLD-FM] on Dec. 30, 2020. “They’re the CEOs of your franchise. They have to be the ones who really establish the culture and the accountability within the football team. And if you don’t have the right guy in that role, then I think you’re really going to struggle as an organization.”

The Texans already have the CEO that matters in Watson. The offseason focus should be building a winner around him.