Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on Nick Caserio's First Meeting With Houston Media

Nick Caserio was introduced on Friday as the Texans' fifth GM in team history.
Nick Caserio was introduced on Friday as the Texans' fifth GM in team history. Screen grab from YouTube
No long lead in needed here for this article — the Houston Texans are an unabashed mess right now. On a weekend that should have been full of hope and joy, where the hiring of a new general manager who SHOULD be a popular choice solely for "not being Bill O'Brien" took place, the Houston Texans fan base is livid. They're livid at the process employed to arrive at Nick Caserio as their GM, they're livid over Cal McNair's infatuation with Jack Easterby, and they're livid over the apparent alienation of star QB Deshaun Watson.

When your team goes 4-12 in a season, and has to endure a trashy era of general managing like the 15 months Bill O'Brien was handling things, fans deserve two days of hope — the day a new GM is hired, and the day a new head coach is hired. For now, Cal McNair and Jack Easterby have robbed Texan fans of that joy, and it's a travesty.

So Caserio met with the media on Friday the same way every press conference takes place these days, and that's via Zoom. This session did not improve the mood of Texan fans. Caserio was fine, even if he spoke fairly vaguely about what his plans were to fix this team. That's to be expected. Cal McNair served to anger more Texan fans when he told them how "talented" Easterby is (without listing any of his specific talents) and made a super awkward analogy in which he compared fixing the team to "building a wall."

So yeah... not the best day for the Texans. Here's the press conference in full:

Here are some of my thoughts on the press conference:

Holy crap, Jack Easterby is an issue right now....
In this press conference, there were two questions asked about Deshaun Watson, one question asked about J.J. Watt, and FIVE questions asked about Jack Easterby, a vice president on the football operations side who NEVER, EVER meets with the media. The reason there are questions about Easterby is because he is generally not trusted behind the scenes, and is believed to be a conniving force behind a lot of the poor decisions made over the last season. Oh, also he is a former team chaplain who appears to be in way over his head. The biggest problem is that Cal McNair and Nick Caserio both seem to be very fond of him, and claim he is really good at his job, but any time you ask "What does Jack Easterby do?" nobody can specify what exactly he does. It's a great gig, really. Kudos to him for getting it, and keeping it, and for brainwashing the owner (possibly, allegedly).

The Deshaun Watson Situation
Overshadowing everything else on Friday, and throughout the weekend were reports that Deshaun Watson is dissatisfied with how this GM and head coaching search is being run, and there are whispers that he might request a trade. Indeed, just when the 2020 sports scene in Houston closes the book, in comes 2021 to say "Hold my beer!" The main reason Watson is reportedly angry is he was told that he would be kept up to speed on the hiring of the GM and head coach, and like the rest of us, he found out on Twitter that the Texans were hiring Caserio. Now comes a head coaching hire that Caserio has said will involve Watson, but does the quarterback trust the franchise at this point? I'll say this — Deshaun Watson is as professional and patient as any athlete I've ever covered, and that the Texans situation with him has reportedly deteriorated to this says a lot about how the current regime is going about its business.

The J.J. Watt Situation
Then there is J.J. Watt, who unlike Watson, did not really sugarcoat his dissatisfaction with how the 2020 season went, and who has far less time to burn and waste with a team that is rebuilding its roster. Caserio didn't directly address Watt in the press conference with the media, but did so in an exclusive interview that Seth Payne and I did with him later Friday afternoon:

Oh, and here is the full interview:

I'm trying ti figure out which conversation will be the more awkward and tense of the two Caserio has staring him in the face in the near future, Watson or Watt. Watson seems to feel legitimately disrespected by the organization, while Watt's conversation will probably be just be a very honest assessment from both sides of the other, Caserio of Watt's skills and contract, and Watt of what a dumpster fire the organization has become with Easterby filling such a prominent role for which he has no real qualifications.

What now with the head coaching hire?
So who do the Texans hire as their next head coach? Cal McNair has said that the team was going to press "PAUSE" on the search over this weekend, and resume it when Caserio returns to Houston early this week. However, take a listen to this cut from a conversation McNair had with Marc Vandermeer. Does this sound like an owner who may have already found his head coach? Man, if this head coaching search is just some dog and pony show to make us all think they actually haven't chosen heir guy already.... I get sick thinking about all this.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast