There was a time this off-season where the `Texans failings were rooted firmly in its owner. Cal McNair’s ambivalence to their two year plight left fans outraged, as they vented at the shadowy figure of Jack Easterby. The media humiliation seemed unprecedented as they slowly folded to a 4-12 record, as their lack of organisational structure underpinned their fundamental failings.
Those seemed like better days than the present. As Cal & Jack can now step back as the anarchy of Houston pro-football reaches bizarre heights, even for a team defined by disfunction.
In an offseason where it appeared to be on the crest of a new dawn. Fast-forward only three months: the GM appointment lead to Watson’s trade request, an underwhelming head-coach hire and Watson is now embroiled in a civil legal case against 22 complainants.
Nick Caserio was never going to start on an even-footing but to have this many issues, problems that extend beyond the realms of X’s & O’s, isn’t something that many can prepare for. His level of drudgery in acquiring over 30 players was an expensive means of re-setting a threadbare roster but it was understandable.
Not so comprehensible was the sheer volume of short team deals, which in order to accommodate, a flurry of re-structures were required. In essence the team are now spending more in future years in order to understand the contributory value of these 3rd & 4th rate players, who would command a higher price, should they perform & be resigned.
Free agency is not a sustainable or preferred means of team building, that is the primary role of the draft. The Texans could go at almost any position, across their 8-picks, bar offensive tackle. After the over-spending of future picks at that position, is the primary reason they are short in ammunition.
The premise of drafting players for a new coaching staff, by a GM who’s decisions are based up upon an inherited personnel department, doesn’t necessarily bode well. Similar to this ’21 season, the draft has tempered expectations & finding one or two starter level contributors would be a heralded success. The draft weekend will provide a distraction and the novelty of some genuine football narrative to consider. But this class will unlikely impact the teams win total.
So it begs the question, when will the Texans have finally hit the bottom of the football barrel?
Will it be the moment Deshaun Watson is traded?
The impending legal process is being navigated by Rusty Hardin, though the timeline remains at the mercy of the Harris County Courts. This could mean a number of years with a quarterback disgruntled not willing to play, that continues to hang over the team. The possible deadline of a pre-draft-trade now seems to have dissolved. Mainly due to the scarcity of willing parties as the 49ers & Carolina have both made alternative QB arrangements.
This means Watson’s 2021 season could be a mixture of hold out, suspension & reputation damage control. His next snap of football may reluctantly come in a Texans jersey until a teams situation or outlook on his allegations suddenly change. By no means are either beyond the realms of possibility, as change is a constant that can favour teams through none of their own doing.
Will it be in the midst of this season?
The ’21 Texans would have been hard pressed to field a less viable pro-football side, than the version that stumbled through the 2020 season. But they seem to have found a way. A convoluted free-agency period plus a draft slate devoid of picks until the 67th slot, does not show a path to progress.
Fans are set to watch a team unlikely to scrape together a handful on wins, filled with no named contributors, lead by Tyrod Taylor. By no logical means can a case be made that this will be any better than the early expansion days. That backward step will lean firmly against even the most devout sections of the fanbase. The teams handling of that, plus the Watson drama, will stretch the organisations goodwill limits with fans, yet again.
Or could it be an even slower demise?
Envisaging the pain of an elongated Watson departure, downward trade-market pressures (AGAIN) leaving value firmly on the trade-partners side of the table. Those acquired picks are re-invested and for the most part don’t pan out. They yield 3 to 4 versions of Kevin Johnson, Amobi Okoye, Travis Johnson & David Carr. By that point the team have likely run through two coaching staff’s, a turnover of over 100 players and the 2019 season will be the “if only” moment for a generation of fans, the ones who are left.
The Murky Future
The actual outcome is somewhere in between. Caserio will likely be given time, should he want it and if there’s some luck along the way, there may be some Rick Smith-years type of product to enjoy.
A lot can change in the blink of an eye. But being the team who searched for its entirety to find a player like Watson & for it to fail due to a host on non-football reasons is a stigma that will take many year to shake, if at all.
Trading Watson makes zero sense from a football standpoint. But the origins of this mess are far removed form football. The next few season will put to the test this franchise’s direction if it will lay in doldrums or rise again to a point that took them over a decade to reach – relevancy.