By HCR Staff | October 8, 2020
Today, Houston Texans owner Cal McNair laid out the hiring process for the Texans’ new head coach. According to McNair, the Texans will hire a General Manager first, and then they’ll let their new GM hire the head coach.
This approach sounds reasonable enough, but from where we sit, and if we look just a bit deeper into the Texans’ precise circumstances, there’s enough to indicate concern for Texans fans.
Let’s outline our main areas of concern.
Cal McNair Is Essentially A Rookie In This Situation. Cal’s obviously been in Texans management since the start of the family’s ownership of the Texans franchise. He was alongside his late father, but his butt has actually never been in the seat of power…until now. Having the seat adjacent to the seat of power – even if it is 6 inches away – isn’t the same thing. Those 6 inches might as well be 10 miles; ask anyone who has ultimate responsibility for success and failure – it’s a heavier burden than one might think. There’s intense scrutiny, there’s trying to figure out who to trust, and there’s the thoughts you run through in your own mind that you don’t share with anyone else. It can be a lonely prison, so to speak. Some handle it really well and with a lot of poise – others don’t.
Cal’s a wildcard here, and wildcards have been known to make some disastrous decisions. Remember when a still relatively-new-to-the-NFL Arthur Blank hired Bobby Petrino as Falcons head coach? We do. On the flip side of the ledger, when a still green Eddie DeBartolo owned the 49ers, he managed to choose Bill Walsh as head coach. At that time, Walsh had been passed over numerous head times as a head coaching candidate, and many in the industry thought DeBartolo was making a mistake. So Cal could get this one right, just like DeBartolo. We’ll see.
Former Patriots Team Chaplain Jack Easterby. Easterby’s NFL career has been on a quick ascent, but many in the industry are curious as to how this has happened, particularly since team chaplain to Executive VP of Football Operations isn’t a typical career path. According to McNair, Easterby will retain his title, serve as Interim GM, and head the search for a GM. That’s a lot of responsibility for a guy, who like McNair, has never had any experience in this particular situation. Will Easterby simply rely on his Patriots connections for the solution? Or will he innovate beyond that? No one knows.
And here’s another critical question: will the new GM report to Easterby, or directly to Cal McNair? If the new GM reports to Easterby, will he or she really be a true GM? If you’re a GM candidate with great skills and an upward career trajectory, how willing will you be to report to someone between you and the owner? We don’t know how this will play out, but simply having Easterby in the process could complicate things.
Will Cal McNair Be Willing To Give A New GM And Head Coach Long Term Contracts? The Texans will be a full rebuild, at least in our view. They have bare cupboards when it comes to talent and cap flexibility; to some degree, it’s similar to the 49ers situation prior to their hiring of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.
It takes time to work these things out, and that’s why 49ers owner Jed York agreed to give Shanahan and Lynch long-term contracts. Will Cal McNair be willing to do the same, i.e., 5-6 year contracts? Collectively, this could represent somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 million in commitments.