Houston Texans: The Most Significant 2015 Personnel Decision
Another offseason without a clear direction looms for the Houston Texans. 11 year veteran center Chris Myers is gone, 12 year veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson is not too far behind him. The Texans are near $28 million under the cap, however how will that cap room be utilized? Quarterback Ryan Mallett has not been re-signed yet, and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is still on the roster.
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There are so many unanswered questions with the free agency period beginning in just over 48 hours, however the most important personnel decision in my opinion that the Texans have to make is the future of executive vice president of football operations/general manager Rick Smith as the key personnel decision maker for the team.
Smith became the general manager of the Houston Texans on June 5, 2006, and succeeded Charley Casserly in that role. According to the Texans website, he is responsible for all aspects of football operations, salary cap management and budgeting, a set of responsibilities that he acquired when he was also named as executive vice president of football operations in 2011. During his tenure as general manager, the organization has experienced 2 division championships and 2 wild card round wins to accompany 5 losing seasons.
It is time that the Texans make the decision to address the 1,000 pound elephant in the room: How does a GM who has failed to put together a winning roster continue to retain his position? Certainly, it was understandable that there would be some transitioning from the Casserly era, but how could Texans owner Bob McNair possibly allow the team to proceed without addressing some major concerns?
The quarterback position has been a sore spot for the Texans since day one. From the outside looking in, that has been very obvious for years. Yes of course the flash in the pan exists: specifically the 2009 season when then Texans Quarterback Matt Schaub led the league in passing yards. However it is completely baffling as to why this position was not (and still has not) been addressed since the downfall and eventual departure of Schaub?
It appears that the Texans have decided to closely model their franchise after the New England Patriots, however the most significant piece is missing – they have a hall of fame quarterback, and a very good quarterback (and arguably a hall of famer also) was his predecessor. The direction of a franchise is established and maintained from its general manager. Since that direction is unclear, isn’t that a reflection on Smith?
I am certain that Mr. Smith adds value to the franchise in some capacity and I am not implying that he should be released, but the decision-making when it comes to personnel has to be closely scrutinized and some kind of change is definitely overdue. Perhaps Smith would be better suited to release his general manager duties to head coach Bill O’Brien, while he continues to manage the football operations aspect of the team.
The time to make a decision is now. If this franchise is going to break through the glass ceiling and move forward, it has to start with solid and consistent direction at its core – the general managers’ office. Before the team commits to a quarterback as its field general, and addresses the other holes on the roster, the decision and commitment to the front office general needs to be made first.