After just over a week of quiet. It emerged that the Texans had found time to interview Kevin O’Connell. The viable list of candidates looked narrow even with the L.A. Ram’s coordinator included, so it was a much welcomed development. The process has been clouded by the raging debate of Josh McCowan and the inevitable inference of Jack Easterby which continues to detract from the teams sense of progress.
It’s impossible to doubt that Caserio is in charge of this search. It’s an often floated notion: why would Caserio leave the most successful franchise in pro-sports, to have his authority singed by his long time colleague? Of course he wouldn’t. It is however, possible that he is overly influenced by him, as he wouldn’t be the first or last. But if Caserio was to hire McCowan, then it would be based on merit. There is of course no proven or consistent development path for an NFL head coach, there have been many routes.
Experience after a certain point, in terms of the basic operational aspects of being a head-coach, has a limit in its benefit. We have just witnessed 40-years plus in the league wasn’t enough to prepare David Culley. Capability and natural ability counts for a lot and is honed by experience but cannot be directly substituted, a balance needs to be sought. Even with only a few years of the 10-month, 18-hour daily grind, then McCowan could be the perfect candidate, undoubtedly.
But in the teams recent past, they have been neither functional nor conventional. The time for innovate or novel approaches is not now. The League, via its media allies will do everything they can do discredit anyone that steps too far out their accepted norms. Nick needs to look no further than along the hall or at his predecessor. The list of candidates they have silently whittled down for this final round of interviews have been inhibited by their previous actions. Agents will have rightfully advised clients against the Houston job, they’d be doing their clients a disservice by not at least voicing some reservations.
After a week where Denver, Giants and Chicago all announced their new head-coaches, the team are a tick behind the curve. Brain Flores remains on paper the most qualified, pushing his reported temperament aside, but progress appears limited since the initial interview. O’Connell brings a proven offensive philosophy but hasn’t called plays in LA, he has only supported Sean McVay in that role. Jonathan Gannon defence was questioned by many in Philadelphia but has a similar background to Caserio. All would likely have to accept the job with caveats on control, influence and coaching staff. Few of these candidates are traditionally viewed as ideal but neither is the role on offer.
It is potentially a crossroads moment for Caserio but considering the implicit trust placed in him by ownership, it’s difficult not to envisage a scenario where he’s allowed a third crack of it. The context and external pressures which are partly created by ownership, could easily be sited as mitigating factors & open the door for final chance to get it right.
Reserving judgement for any hire is prudent, considering this roster and transitional period, relative success will be subjective until 2023. Regardless of the outcome, the teams process, whether it proves to be successful and signal a new dawn, will be questioned regardless. Their approach continues to leave the club perilously short of credibility with its suffering fan-base, for at least the time being.
Caserio has kept many of his own staff in the dark on this process for a reason we are yet to learn. Hopefully for everyones sake he can nail this hire to galvanise everyone connected to the team, as for too long segregation and frustration has left game day looking a shadow of its former self.