Sean Pendergast

What's Most Important For Texans GM Nick Caserio To Get Right?

Nick Caserio has some key things he needs to get right for the Texans to improve in 2022.
Nick Caserio has some key things he needs to get right for the Texans to improve in 2022. Photo by Jack Gorman
There is no doubt that Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio is sitting on the cusp of several franchise-altering decisions, decisions that will be his legacy as a general manager, and could determine just how long he sits in his powerful role as architect of the Texans. With a new head coach being named,it begs the question — which pending decision from Caserio is the most important for him to get right?

I put this question to the most rational thinking, measured, non temperamental audience I know — the Twitter-verse, where NOTHING is overreacted to, right? RIGHT?! — and nearly 2,000 of those people replied. Of the three most pressing general manager to-do items for Caserio — trading Deshaun Watson, choosing the right head coach, and drafting a bunch of rookies in April — which is the most important for Caserio to get right.

If 45.4 percent of the 1,905 voters have their way, it means that this head coaching decision, which ended with Lovie Smith as the next Texans coach, is the biggest tipping point in the early part of Caserio's Texans career. (Hopefully, it's the "early" part, because that means that (a) Caserio is here for a long, long time, which means (b) he probably got the decision right!)

Here are the poll results, followed by the case for each choice:
OK, now the case for each one, in order of Twitter poll popularity:

The case for HEAD COACH HIRE (45.4 percent)
We know what an inconsequential head coaching hire feels like, having just gone through the one year era that was David Culley times. Ultimately, that one year was just one gigantic PAUSE button to allow the organization some time to clean up the nuclear mess left behind by Bill O'Brien. David Culley was not going to get Nick Caserio fired.

This hire of Lovie Smith SHOULD be different. The Texans now HAVE draft picks, the salary cap is relatively cleaned up for the coming years, fan support has (hopefully) hit its nadir and can only go up from here (in theory, maybe?). Above all else, most GM's don't get an opportunity to hire a THIRD head coach. Owner Cal McNair is VERY fond of Caserio, so if any GM could survive a second failed head coaching hire, it's probably Caserio, but I don't think he wants to find out.

The case for DESHAUN WATSON TRADE (43.0 percent)
The case for 2022 DRAFT (11.6 percent)
I would have put my vote in either of the other two categories ahead of the next head coaching hire, and it's because I think this team just honestly needs better football players above all else. What will trigger the acceleration of Caserio's rebuild will be getting impact football players on rookie contracts on both sides of the football. The Texans have operated the last couple seasons with virtually none of those. That's not the reason they've only won eight games in two years, but it's a HUGE reason why they are in danger of winning only eight games over the NEXT two years. There is no foundation.

I group the Watson trade and the 2022 draft into one ball of explanation for this reason — they are kind of inextricably linked. The 2022 draft is highly critical for the reasons listed above. The Watson trade is equally critical because, in theory, it should yield some picks to supplement the nine 2022 draft picks the Texans already own. Also, the Watson trade is highly critical for Caserio's legacy as GM. He has been holding out for retail-plus on a severely distressed asset (at least distressed from a public relations standpoint). Does Caserio flinch and take 60 cents on the dollar? That will depend on how the legal side of Watson's saga unfolds. Either way, I think Caserio's fate as a GM will be decided more on the talent he brings onto the roster than the coach he chooses to lead that talent.

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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