Are the Texans the NFL's Biggest Dumpster Fire over Jets and Other NFL Teams?

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystJanuary 14, 2021

The Houston Texans logo can be seen a midfield at NRG Stadium before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
Matt Patterson/Associated Press

The Houston Texans have claimed the title as the NFL's worst-run organization, especially after recent events. 

Euphoria swept through the Cleveland Browns fanbase during Sunday's 48-37 dismantling of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round. 

The sense of pure joy emanating from the city formerly dubbed "The Mistake by the Lake" was partly due to the victory itself. The win expunged decades of incompetence and mismanagement. Cleveland finally righted the ship with first-year general manager Andrew Berry, first-time head coach Kevin Stefanski and burgeoning franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield leading the way. 

Basically, the Browns didn't trip over themselves as they had so many times previously.

Other organizations are making similar mistakes, but the Texans' recent maneuvering boggles the mind. And as with other businesses, everything starts at the top. 

When Cleveland served as the previous example of ineptitude, owner Jimmy Haslam built a boardroom approach, and the heads of each department answered directly to him. 

"For the first time," a source told Bleacher Report's Kalyn Kahler about what changed in 2020, "Haslam has people that are aligned with [Paul DePodesta], who buy into him." 

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Organizational alignment is critical to on-field success. Cleveland's current run might be the latest example, but the Steelers, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs are ideal illustrations of how long-term, top-down philosophies can impact a franchise positively. 

Meanwhile, a fracture already appears to have emerged in Houston based on the most influential voice within owner and CEO Cal McNair's circle. It belongs to Jack Easterby, who currently holds the title of executive vice president of football operations. 

Texans sources described him as "an authority figure whose leadership style sows distrust and division, at times flouting rules and straining relationships inside the building" to Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop.

Houston's former head coach, Bill O'Brien, essentially became a fall guy for what went down as the NFL's worst trade in 2020 when the Texans dealt star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a '20 fourth-round draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, last year's second-round draft pick and a '21 fourth-round selection. 

Per Vrentas and Bishop, sources added that Easterby was "the first, and most persistent, advocate for the team's trading the receiver out of Houston." 

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

After that early-December report, Easterby once again allegedly meddled in a major organizational decision and caused a complete about-face.

The McNair family hired the Korn Ferry search firm to help in the franchise's general manager search. Ultimately, the Texans chose Nick Caserio despite the firm's recommendation of Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Caserio wasn't even on the list of submitted candidates, but he had a previous history working with Easterby. 

According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the Texans offered Khan the job and even negotiated parameters of a deal until Easterby convinced the McNairs to hire Caserio. 

In doing so, the front office and ownership angered the franchise's most important player, quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Schefter noted Watson's displeasure with the hire. The issue didn't stem from Caserio taking over the job, but rather how the franchise quarterback wasn't even involved in the decision-making process. Granted, the quarterback's feelings shouldn't be the deciding factor, but he could have been part of the process—or at least be contacted at some point along the way.

"We just need a whole culture shift," Watson told reporters Monday before the general manager search ended. "... There's too many different minds, too many different ideas and too many people thinking they have this power, and it's not like that."

The less-than-collaborative approach compelled a league source to tell CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso in a text that Houston is the "most miserable place to work in the NFL." 

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Watson could "play hardball" in regards to a potential trade. 

"If I'm [Deshaun Watson] I will stand my ground," Andre Johnson, the Texans' all-time leading receiver, tweeted. "The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!!!"

Sam Craft/Associated Press

Holy dysfunction junction, Batman. 

Realistically, which top coaching candidate would want to enter this situation when it's so ripe for discord? Watson is literally the only selling point, and he may not even be with the franchise at the start of the '21 campaign. 

To make matters worse, Houston already traded this year's first- and second-round draft picks as part of the Laremy Tunsil deal, which is a crippling body-blow since the top selection turned out to be the third overall pick. 

Financially, Houston is one of the league's worst-positioned teams, as well. The Texans are currently projected at more than $20.3 million over the proposed '21 salary cap, according to Spotrac.

If Watson somehow gets traded, his departure would add to the team's cap restraints. The David Johnson, Whitney Mercilus, Bradley Roby, Randall Cobb and Eric Murray deals can all be construed as bad contracts based on their recent levels of performance. Some of them should be reworked or discarded. 

Watson's favorite target, Will Fuller V, is also a pending free agent. 

Multiple positions are problematic with help needed in the secondary, at linebacker and wide receiver, and on the defensive interior before the statuses of those previously mentioned are addressed. 

Other teams are shabbily run, but the Texans are tough to beat at this point in time. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars posted the league's worst record with an owner in Shad Khan who plans to keep roster control even after a new general manager is hired. Even so, the slam-dunk option of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft makes those concerns fade. 

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The New York Jets appear to be on the other side of a bad setup. Adam Gase's dismissal was the right move, and general manager Joe Douglas can help in the hiring process by searching for a coach who can help achieve organizational alignment. Plus, they could have a nice trade chip in Sam Darnold if they decide to select a quarterback with the second overall pick (and they should). 

The Cincinnati Bengals definitely have work to do. Fortifications to the offensive front should be the biggest priority this offseason given the beating last year's No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Joe Burrow, took. Still, Burrow has a promising future even though head coach Zac Taylor doesn't with a 6-25-1 record through two seasons. 

The Philadelphia Eagles entered the conversation with Doug Pederson's firing. Generally, they are well-run with a respected owner and top-notch general manager. But Pederson's dismissal less than three years after hoisting a Lombardi Trophy, coupled with major issues at quarterback thanks to the mishandling of Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts, puts the organization in a bind regardless of who takes over coaching duties. 

None of those situations are quite as bad as what the Browns endured for nearly 20 years, but the Texans are proceeding down a path toward long-term instability and disappointment. 

Houston's failures during its recent general manager search and the subsequent hire exposed how poorly run the organization is. It's becoming the league's biggest dumpster fire. 

               

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.