The Texans stunned everyone by firing general manager Brian Gaine after just one season. Gaine’s firing puts head coach Bill O’Brien front and center on the hot seat, as it was O’Brien who picked Gaine to be his GM. O’Brien had conflicts with previous GM Rick Smith, and he could not make it work with his hand-picked replacement either? While Bill O’Brien’s future hangs in the balance, here is how Gaine’s firing could impact other major organizational decisions moving forward.
How does Gaine’s firing impact everyone?
2019 has to be a make-or-break year for O’Brien, but Houston’s got two major contractual decisions: For one, they will have to start discussions on a new deal for franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson; and the other is Jadeveon Clowney, who is currently holding out for a new deal.
O’Brien appears vulnerable, because after his power struggle with Rick Smith, he finally got someone he supposedly worked well with, and someone believed to have shared an equal vision in regard to the future of the organization.
This could go either of two ways for the Texans head coach. One, Cal McNair brings in someone O’Brien has worked with in the past to which he comes in and works well with O’Brien, and both are able to push the Texans to new heights. Two, someone not overly familiar with O’Brien comes in, tries to make it work, but ends up wanting a new head coach in to fit his vision for the organization. No matter which way you spin the wheel, 2019 is make-or-break for O’Brien. Bill is 42-38 in the regular season, but just 1-3 in the playoffs. If O’Brien hopes to stick with the organization beyond 2019, he is going to have to show that he is the coach who can lead the Texans to the Super Bowl.
Stability is key with every championship organization. So far in Deshaun Watson’s young career, the Texans have been anything but stable. Whether it is injuries or inter-organization power struggles, Watson has endured a lot in a short time. The biggest impact of Gaine’s departure very well could be felt in Watson’s contract negotiations. Watson has two years remaining, but now that Carson Wentz has signed his new deal with Philadelphia, the time to begin working on a new deal for Watson would be now. When the Texans begin new contract discussions would also depend on who the new GM is, as well as how and when he would like to open dialogue.
On the subject of contracts, Jadeveon Clowney, who was tagged by the Texans in May, understandably does not want to play under the one year tag and remains a holdout for a new contract. Things have been relatively quiet on the Clowney front since the Texans placed the tag, but a new GM in place could reopen dialogue. Who knows? Maybe a new deal finally gets done.
If O’Brien can’t handle working with Rick Smith and Brian Gaine, who can he work well with? Is it power and full control over personnel that O’Brien wants? If that is the case, O’Brien needs to deliver better than what he has delivered so far in his five seasons as coach. To which I give the Texans some credit: As dysfunctional as they can be, the McNairs are smart enough not to give an above-average coach power until he delivers better results.
Moving forward, the Texans need to focus on getting their house in order and getting some stability at the top. It will be interesting to see who will be hired and how the team will operate, but also just how much leash Bill O’Brien has.