Firing Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start has not made the Houston Texans’ problems go away. In fact, it’s probably made the situation worse by opening the team to scrutiny that is exposing what a mess the Texans have become in other respects. And now they’ve made a move that has clearly displeased J.J. Watt.
The Houston Texans had to fire Bill O’Brien
Bill O’Brien needed to go. There’s no way to dispute that. Aside from the 0-4 start this year in his coaching capacity, O’Brien had made a mess of the Houston Texans’ future with personnel decisions.
An ill-advised trade by O’Brien left the Texans without their first- and second-round draft picks in 2021. Yes, they landed Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills from the Miami Dolphins, but not without troubling complications.
Stills has all of 10 catches for 138 yards halfway through the season and is in the final year of his contract. Tunsil is performing better, but he is guaranteed $50 million as part of his new three-year, $66 million contract with the Texans. Spotrac.com projects the Texans to be $12 million in the red against the salary cap next season in part due to Tunsil’s deal.
And, of course, there was the DeAndre Hopkins trade. Settling for David Johnson and his 408 rushing yards thus far was the worst of O’Brien’s decisions. Hopkins has made 60 catches for 734 yards and three touchdowns while assuring Kyler Murray will have a long-term threat as Larry Fitzgerald’s career winds down.
And, finally, it does not help that defensive stalwart J.J. Watt has indicated he is both ready and willing to go rather than endure a rebuilding process.
The Houston Texans lack experienced leadership
Don’t be fooled by the Houston Texans’ 2-2 record under interim head coach Romeo Crennel. Two wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the continued stellar play of quarterback DeShaun Watson cannot conceal the fact that a franchise with a combined 21 wins the previous two seasons needs an overhaul.
Relieving Bill O’Brien of his dual responsibilities shed light on the fact that the Texans do not appear to have a front office with the capability to fix the impending salary cap mess, evaluate the current roster, and prepare for the draft.
Upon firing O’Brien, Texans owner Cal McNair gave executive VP of football operations Jack Easterby the additional role of interim general manager. As noted by NBC Sports, Easterby somehow went from New England Patriots team chaplain helping the organization move past the Aaron Hernandez mess to part of the Patriots’ football personnel department.
The extent of his involvement there is irrelevant. His lack of a meaningful football resume before that means Easterby isn’t the man to lead McNair, less than two years into his role following his father’s death, out of the abyss.
And now there’s word of a front-office that has puzzled everyone from prominent reporters to Texans defensive star J.J. Watt.
J.J. Watt is among many puzzled by the latest move
Texans standout J.J. Watt didn’t go full-blown nuclear, but he made a point of calling attention to the move.
“First & only woman to be head of PR for an NFL team and winner of the Rozelle Award for best PR Staff in the NFL. Massive help in my hurricane relief efforts, community events and much more. Whoever picks up Amy Palcic will be getting one of the absolute best in the business,” he tweeted.
Others weren’t as diplomatic in expressing their surprise. Receiver Kenny Stills, in his first season in Houston following a trade with the Miami Dolphins, liked a tweet by Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk labeling the Texans one of the worst organizations in football.
CBS Sports analyst Rich Gannon tweeted that Palcic is one of the best in the business. Yahoo Sports contributor Pete Thamel characterized it as “a terrible decision.”
That’s not to say that there couldn’t have been a misstep on Palcic’s part. However, the Texans sorely lack respected, veteran leadership in the front office. Sacking the VP of communications midway through the season does not instill confidence in the people in charge.