Sports

Five Completely Texans Moments From the Final Week of a Dumpster Fire Season

Cal McNair is in charge now, everybody. Never fear.
Cal McNair is in charge now, everybody. Never fear. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Well, it's over. Another miserable, soul sucking season from your Houston Texans was flushed down the drain on Sunday with a win that, in fact, was actually a loss. While the Texans managed to beat the Indianapolis Colts 32-31 with a crazy, two-minute drive and two-point conversion, it was not the end to the season fans hoped for. Because, with the win, the Texans dropped to second worst record costing them the overall No. 1 pick in the draft. The Texans can't even do wrong right.

From the time the game started until Monday when GM Nick Caserio and owner Cal McNair spoke to the media, it was a strange and stupefying roller coaster ride of moments. Or at least, it would have been were this not the Texans, a team we have seen do some of the most confounding things in Houston sports history. Here are five of those moments.


Going for two.

We could go back to even starting Davis Mills or not just running out the clock on the final drive or a fourth-and-twenty conversion for a touchdown, but this is the one that absolutely rings as pure Texans. With a first round pick on the line, the Texans go for the win with a two-point conversion and actually convert. This would arguably have been one of the most incredible game-winning series in franchise history if the game mattered at all...like in week one when Coach Lovie Smith inexplicably decided to go for the tie against this same Indy team, a tie that, quite honestly, haunted their chances at the No. 1 pick all season.

There were so many chances to do the right thing for the future of the franchise. Instead, like always, they didn't.

"You play to win the game."

After that debacle, Smith had the temerity to go to the podium, announce he fully expected to return as coach and parroted Herm Edward with the phrase he made famous when he coached the Jets. It was a remarkable, audacious display that was hard to connect with reality. Maybe Smith really did feel that way. Maybe he knew his fate and wanted to get one last win. Maybe he really is that guy. Whatever the case, the more important question is: Why weren't you playing to win the game all damn season? Smith was, arguably, one of the most conservative NFL coaches, yet he goes for it in a meaningless game in week 18?

Moments later...he's fired.

In what would be a crazy twist of irony had we not ALL known it was coming, within hours of Smith's press conference, he was sent packing. The Texans are only the second team in the modern NFL era to fire two consecutive coaches after one season.

Nick Caserio admits he has to get this hire right.

Look, we all know teams lie to fans and media. Sometimes, it's a simple sin of omission. Other times, it's an "I did not have sex with that woman" moment. In the moment, however, it is worth wondering just how much of this we are expected to believe. Caserio admitted he had failed with the previous two hires and really needed to get this next one right. What? They hired two older coaches — one in David Culley who had never been even a coordinator at the pro level — neither of whom had any prospects beyond the Texans. At least Smith was with the organization at the time as the defensive coordinator. No one thought that either of these guys were long term solutions for the team. So, that either makes Caserio infinitely bad at his job or positively Bill Belichick-ian at spinning a yarn in front of the media.

We all know this team has been in disaster recovery mode since before minister Jack Easterby was sent packing. The team nearly hired Josh McCown, who had less experience than Culley (less experience than most humans) at head coaching, before they were named in a lawsuit accusing the NFL of collusion in not hiring black coaches. Smith and Culley were convenient, sacrificial lambs. This is not on them. It is, however, on Caserio. At least in one way he is correct, he needs to finally hire someone the team actually expects to build around. That would be the right thing to do.

Cal McNair is going to be hands on.

If this very sentence didn't send shivers down the spine of every Texans fan, you might consider rooting for another sport. In what universe does McNair, who despite all his efforts at normalizing relations with fans is still held as a pariah among most Texans fans, think him getting involved is going to inspire anything other than derision? Pardon our skepticism, but this feels a lot like a guy trying to rehab an image. After the GM screwed up two hires, the owner, having seen enough, decides to step in and save the day.

Is anyone buying this? We aren't big on conspiracies, but if there were evidence that aliens had snuck into the building on Kirby and inhabited the bodies of Texans upper management, we'd be inclined to believe it simply because of the monumental hubris on their part and naivety they confer onto the rest of us.

Honestly, if they would just stop making excuses and act like an NFL franchise, even if that meant they didn't win Super Bowls, most of us could cope. At this point, normal would be a massive step in the right direction.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke