B.O.B. Absorbs Another Title in Wake of Front Office Changes
For much of the 2019 season, and the short time after the Texans divisional round playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, not much could be heard from Houston’s ownership about the club’s vacant general manager position. In a move that ensued Romeo Crennel stepping aside and allowing Anthony Weaver to be promoted from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, Cal McNair broke his silence and officially named Bill O’Brien the new GM of the team. McNair also updated the title for Jack Easterby, more clearly defining the role he would now serve as VP of team development. The move comes with little to no shock value, and ultimately the updated titles will seemingly end Houston’s pursuit of Patriots’ director of player personnel Nick Caserio for the GM position.
“Preparations are underway for the 2020 season and I thought it was important to update titles, roles and responsibilities for Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby so they more accurately reflect the way we have been operating for the past eight months,”
“I was encouraged by the progress that our team made on the field this year which was due in part to our new structure, operating approach and the leaders within our football operations group.”
Houston Texans fans shouldn’t be surprised that the head coach and offensive coordinator is now officially the team’s new general manager. Plans to consolidate powers under Bill O’Brien have slowly come to fruition since the passing of Bob McNair in 2018. O’Brien as the acting GM seems to have impressed owner Cal McNair and convinced him to allow full organizational direction to come under his control. It appears McNair is no Jerry Jones type in the owners box, he is content to let his football guys make the football moves for his team. In the short time-frame since Bob McNair’s death, Houston has seen two general managers in Rick Smith and Brian Gaine come and go. Now O’Brien has a stranglehold on the direction he envisions for the franchise as they attempt to move beyond AFC South division titles and early playoff exits. O’Brien often clashed with Rick Smith’s conservative approach in free agency and in the draft in his time as Houston’s GM. O’Brien later seemed to strike a chord with Gaine as they together revamped some of the player personnel, but the union was fractured after a single season. Ultimately, Gaine’s firing was the snowball that set the avalanche in motion in regards to B.O.B. gaining further control of football operations for the Texans.
Bill didn’t waste anytime promoting coaches from within and cleaning out some front office positions after the dismissal of Chris Olsen as interim GM. Now that the majority of governance resides with B.O.B., he has begun creating waves from within the organization, first by promoting D’Anton Lynn to the secondary coach from the assistant position and second in keeping Romeo Crennel around on staff, despite him not having an official title just yet. The secondary coach move comes after the team lost Anthony Midget to the Titans for a job in the same role. The Texans also dismissed J.J. Moses from the director of player engagement position while also firing Eva Graham and Amber Davies from the pro/college scouting administrations. Next came Billy Voltaire (strength and conditioning/performance therapist) and assistant strength coach Jason George, all in an effort to gather a group of directors, coaches and administrators that will satisfy B.O.B. and Easterby’s demands for football operations in the organization.
“Trader Bill” Seizes Control
Just before receiving the official GM title, the front office dismissed Senior VP of Football Administration Chris Olsen from his post which he had held for the previous 13 seasons. The move prompted many to believe the Texans would continue to seek the services of Nick Caserio who currently is on staff with the New England Patriots. Olsen was acting as interim GM and had fulfilled half of a four-year contract extension he had signed when Houston hired Gaine for the GM position. With the “cap-space guru” now gone, it seemed for fans that this was the perfect time to again try to steal Caserio away. However, Cal McNair wasted no time in dubbing O’Brien, whom some have deemed “Trader Bill” after 2019 player personnel moves, with the responsibility of shouldering affairs regarding the draft, free agency and player contracts. This time around there is no front office buffer for O’Brien. Should the end-result of the upcoming season fall short of expectations, the organization can only point to O’Brien as the culprit who brought on the misfortune.
O’Brien’s first season as the unofficial GM was highlighted by acquisitions of players like Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, Darren Fells, Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as the season was also marred with decisions that were criticized by fans. For example, allowing Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson to walk in free agency. Compound that with trading Jadeveon Clowney away for what seemed like peanuts and you get a mixed bag of reactions from critics. O’Brien ultimately improved his offensive vision, adding weapons and protection for Deshaun Watson, while simultaneously creating glaring holes on the defensive side of the ball. Despite Bill making waves with player personnel, the blame ultimately fell on Crennel as head of a sub par defensive unit in comparison to Texans defenses of the past.
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