As the Houston Texans' search for a new general manager turns into a full season of the next government conspiracy show on Netflix, somewhere (likely) warm and relaxing, the recently terminated Texans general manager, Brian Gaine sits with his toes in the sand, likely getting a good chuckle at what all has transpired since the team removed him back on June 7.
So while the Gaine chapter of Texans' history remains slightly ajar, let's look back and assess the football transaction-related portion of Gaine's resume, which is believed to be only a part of why he's not longer the team's GM. (John McClain of the Houston Chronicle has outlined extensively the "erosion" of relationships behind the scenes that ultimately did in Gaine.)
Here are Brian Gaine's bast and worst moves as Texans GM< in one man's estimation:
THREE BEST MOVES
3. Focus on special teams
For years, going back to the Gary Kubiak Era, the Texans had been among the worst teams in the league on special teams units — return, coverage, the whole nine yards. That all changed in 2018, as they became a top five special teams squad according to Football Outsiders' DVOA metrics, and much of that had to do with two things — the hire of Brad Seely to run special teams, and the focus on special teams personnel from Gaine. The pickups of Buddy Howell, A.J. Moore, and DeAndre Carter (among others) off the waiver wire throughout the year were really good examples of Gaine finding guys who were (Gaine term alert!) "good on fourth down."
2. Tyrann Mathieu handling
One very encouraging sign early on in Gaine's tenure was the signing of Mathieu. It was everything you could ask for in a March signing — low risk, relatively cheap, and for a player with high impact potential. Ultimately, Mathieu wound up being about 70 percent of what his bravado would indicate he was, but he was a good signing, certainly worth $7 million. Also, I was fine with letting him walk for $14 million per year when they let him walk. (Ultimately, if I'd know there would be $40 million in cap space in June, though, well... more on that in a minute.)
1. Drafting Justin Reid
To be fair to Gaine, he was behind the eight ball starting out as the new GM because the team had traded away its first and second round picks to draft Deshaun Watson and to dump Brock Osweiler respectively. So his first pick wasn't until 68th overall in the 2018 draft. Ultimately, in the two drafts Gaine handled, that pick may wind up being his best one, as he landed safety Justin Reid, who is on track to become a foundational, ten year player for the Texans, and one of the best safeties in the league, if he keeps progressing the way he did in his rookie campaign.
THREE WORST MOVES
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3. Message received from the weird Angelo Blackson deal
Ok, admittedly, it's not the Blackson deal itself so much (although it is a weird deal) as it is the meaning behind it. For those out there not totally familiar with Blackson, he is one of the fat fellas along the defensive line that is paid to plug the gaps against the opposing team's running game. Lunch pail stuff. He is fine at his job, but a three-year, $12 million deal ($3.5 million guaranteed) seemed a little excessive for a defensive line grinder that you can routinely get off the bargain rack. This deal scared me a little bit, in that it gave Gaine the appearance of a GM who falls in love with his own players and, for no real reason, overpays to keep them. I guess we will never find out if Gaine was really that type of GM.
2. Signing Aaron Colvin
Gaine's boldest move in free agency was the signing of Colvin away from the Jaguars for a four-year, $34 million deal, with $18 million guaranteed. Colvin was a dynamite slot corner in Jacksonville with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye on the outside. In Houston, he was a failure in 2018, in part because of injuries, but also because of underperformance. A bounce back year from Colvin in 2019 would go a long way to helping the secondary get back on track.
1. Complete lack of urgency this offseason
If there was one particular football reason that ultimately doomed Brian Gaine it was this — he went into the 2019 offseason with over $70 million, with glaring deficiencies on the offensive line (Deshuan Watson was sacked 62 times in 2018) and secondary, and he came out of the 2019 offseason with tackle Matt Kalil and cornerback Bradley Roby on one-year deals, and over $40 million in cap space. Gaine appeared to be hoarding cap space like it accrues interest. This was his area of complete and total failure.