If you actually read this post, and you’re going to respond to me on Twitter about it in good faith, please use the hashtag #ReadThePiece. I know this sounds silly, but it’s an easy way for me to separate responses that I want to honor with a real answer from people who just want to be mad about everything they read online.
Nick Caserio’s opening presser was overshadowed by the fact that the Houston Texans, as currently constructed, are just trying to put out a continually erupting series of brush fires. These fires have been caused and created by the fact that they continue to employ Jack Easterby and that he’s been tied directly to the hire of Caserio. Caserio did not help himself in that regard by referring to the relationship he has with Easterby as “special.”
Caserio dealt with malfunctioning microphones and was personable and alert — often to the point of jumping in front of Cal McNair to answer questions for him. It showed good instincts, but there isn’t really a way to cover up what McNair tried to sell people.
At his last media availability of the season — four days ago but somehow it feels like it happened two months ago — Deshaun Watson talked about the culture, and about people who think they have power but shouldn’t:
That culture was in the hands of Easterby. As is prominently displayed on his resume, “In his role, Easterby manages all football operations and directs the overall culture of the organization.” At Caserio’s presser, McNair’s opening monologue tried to stab at the idea that the culture was wrong, but never really touched on why that was.
“As we look forward, it’s important for me to remind everyone who the Houston Texans are as an organization. Our culture has been repeatedly under question this season, so let me clear that up for all of you right now … We believe you can’t go wrong by doing what’s right, and ask our fans to trust that we know what’s right.” If McNair had finished those first two sentences by uttering the phrase “and that is why we are firing Jack Easterby,” we could have all moved on to the business of football. I’d post something about Nick Caserio’s comments and how they relate to his job. But he didn’t. So I guess that’ll have to come later.
In asking the fans to trust in an organization that has sewn so much chaos within it’s relationship with Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt these past two years, McNair is asking for something that can’t be given by an appeal to authority. It is something that has to be earned by actions and words. If this was as disappointing of a year as it was supposed to be, why are the Texans proud of everyone involved? Why did they never address any reasons behind their poor record but win-loss record in close games? They want the benefit of the doubt that they think sitting up at a podium grants them, without any of the icky introspection and self-examination that leads to transparency and critical thinking.
This is not helping anybody understand Jack Easterby’s role. This is a statement of fact. Jack Easterby is buddies with my new general manager. Was that the overriding factor in why Caserio was chosen? Sure sounds like it was, because no other reason was given. Why was Jack Easterby given the power? What does Jack Easterby do that is good?
“He took a lot of heat for it,” McNair says, as if that is something that is noble or admirable. The question asked by Brandon Scott — who killed it as always — is why he is around. There was no answer given. There was no answer given because there is nothing either man could point to about why he was around that anybody wants to hear. Here’s Vanessa Richardson from NBC asking what exactly Easterby brings to the table:
“Other things that Jack has done really well over the past,” such as? I’m not even going to get into the “build a wall” thing or the several other tone-deaf statements that McNair uttered in this presser. I don’t think he’s a good public speaker and I think, in time, he will learn that his role in this press conference was a mistake.
We had a 30-minute press conference with several questions about Jack Easterby. Neither Nick Caserio nor Cal McNair could answer why he is here or what he does that is worth keeping. What they tried to do instead was give a value-based, preach-heavy analysis of how they want their culture to be viewed. Here’s Caserio:
These are all words, and they all mean something in the sense that if you were creating a self-help program for a college football team, it would sound something like this. But they have no factual relevance in the situation the Texans find themselves in. No amount of selflessness or serving is going to erase the fact that DeAndre Hopkins isn’t here, J.J. Watt wanted to be out all last season and probably hasn’t changed his tune, and that they pissed off the franchise quarterback for no reason. No amount of values is going to change the fact that this defense was a trainwreck last season. There isn’t a mindset change that alters the fact that coaches see that Jack Easterby is on staff and remains in power and skitter away from taking interviews with the team.
What the Texans revealed on Friday wasn’t so much a master plan to fix the franchise as a defense of the fact that they are where they were entirely by happenstance. In that sense, it’s no different than your typical Easterby lecture, the one where we are all born sinners and must simply DO THE WORK to get out of a tough situation. Easterby didn’t attend a press conference that was essentially all about him — you’ll have to forgive him, his most recent appearance at a presser in early September isn’t him hiding under a pile of coats as he counts his money, no sir.
Caserio very well may fix various aspects of the Texans by attempting to actually do Football Stuff instead of playing 5d chess about Who We Should Value and engaging in Christian Phrenology on star players. But what we learned on Friday is that he’s going to have to fight the organization’s established culture the entire way.
We all know who the culture belongs to, even if he wasn’t at that press conference.
I’m writing this article free of charge — this website is ad-free and non-intrusive. If you enjoy my work and want to encourage me to produce more, please feel free to leave me a PayPal tip.