John McClain: McNairs need to show patience with Nick Caserio

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock (13056001d) Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio talks to reporters before an NFL football training camp practice, in Houston Texans Football, Houston, United States – 29 Jul 2022

John McClain: McNairs need to show patience with Nick Caserio

I hear rumblings from fans and media that when the McNair family fires coach Lovie Smith and his staff after what’s shaping up as the worst season in Texans history, they should include general manager Nick Caserio in the house cleaning.

That would be preposterous.

Caserio was hired last year to tear down and rebuild the team – a colossal undertaking requiring time, money, many difficult decisions, and a lot of patience from Janice, Hannah, and Cal McNair.

Caserio was given a six-year, $30 million contract. It would be ridiculous to get rid of him after two seasons even though the Texans have an NFL-worst 1-10-1 record and an offense that looks like a bad skit from “Saturday Night Live” as it returns to Davis Mills over Kyle Allen as the starting quarterback.

Think about this: When Caserio was hired, the Texans didn’t have draft choices in the first and second rounds. In the year before he arrived, the Texans didn’t have a first-round pick. They had made a series of blunders in the draft and free agency. And Caserio inherited a serious salary cap problem.

And yet so many seem to want Caserio gone less than two years after he was hired. How absurd – not to mention reckless – would that be?

Here’s where the Texans are with Caserio running the personnel side of the organization: Through his maneuvering and manipulating, they had nine draft choices this year and have 20 stockpiled over the next two years, including 11 in 2023. Those picks include two more in the first round to complete the Deshaun Watson traded to Cleveland. Caserio did a terrific job of handling the Watson controversy, and I don’t think anybody can argue differently.

And in 2023, they hope to have wide receiver John Metchie III, a second-round pick who’s sitting out his rookie season while undergoing treatment for Leukemia.

Caserio has overseen improvement in the salary cap picture to a point where they’ll have room to sign a couple of highly paid free agents to fill need positions.

What the McNair family should do after this nightmare season is allow Caserio to fire Smith if that’s what he believes should happen, hire the head coach he prefers and, hopefully, draft a franchise quarterback with the first overall pick. Caserio will know the next head coach and quarterback will determine how long he remains on the job.

It’s a bad look nationally to fire Smith and have two one-and-done head coaches in a row, but the Texans won’t get much argument locally because fans and media know how bad the team is while heading for rock bottom and the fewest victories in team history.

Primarily because of Pep Hamilton’s league-worst offense, the Texans don’t appear capable of beating anybody, including a team they’ve owned in recent years – the Jacksonville Jaguars. On Oct. 9, the Texans won 13-6 at Jacksonville for a ninth consecutive victory over the Jaguars that preceded the current seven-game losing streak going into Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, a 17-point favorite.

After playing at Dallas, the Texans return to NRG Stadium against the Chiefs. There’s no telling how much that point spread will be based on what we’re seeing week in and week out from this weak-in and weak-out offense.

Caserio has his hands full overseeing the personnel department. This is a crucial time of the year for general managers. They have meetings with college scouts to prepare for the draft and pro scouts to prepare for free agency.

This is Caserio’s most important offseason. He’ll oversee his third draft, including his second with a full complement of picks, and he’ll add costly free agents who are expected to make big-time contributions immediately.

In 2023, if the Texans continue to wallow at or near the bottom of the NFL with an offense that can’t buy yards or points and a defense that can’t stop the run for a fourth consecutive season, then Caserio’s job should be in jeopardy. But not now.

As for Caserio’s role in hiring David Culley and Smith, it should be obvious what happened behind the scenes. Looking back, Culley was always going to be a placeholder for the Jack Easterby-led movement to hire Josh McCown as head coach.

The Texans will never admit how close they came to hiring McCown without any coaching experience above the high school level. McCown must have been impressive and convincing in his interviews, and he may, indeed, become a great head coach someday but only after working his way up from an entry-level position.

The Brian Flores lawsuit caused them to step back, reanalyze the situation and settle on Smith as a compromise candidate with experience and success as an NFL head coach. How long Smith stayed on the job depended on showing improvement over the 4-13 team that got Culley fired.

The best-laid plans have gone awry. The Texans have put it in reverse this season, and the offense is primarily responsible. In the last three losses to Washington, Miami, and Cleveland, the Texans’ offense has scored four touchdowns and allowed four touchdowns.

A defense that gives up four touchdowns in three games, including two to the Dolphins on drives of 59 and 3 yards, deserves more from the offense, as do the special teams that have been – at least until Sunday’s loss to the Browns – among the best in the league.

For those who are unsure of how the Texans operate behind the scenes, Caserio didn’t promote Hamilton from quarterback coach to offensive coordinator and play-caller. Caserio doesn’t tell Smith what to do when it comes to assistant coaches, game plans, who plays what position on Sunday, in-game strategy, or how to handle sessions with the media. That’s up to Smith.

And it’s up to the McNairs to figure out what to do about a team that produces one embarrassing performance after another and an offense that shows no signs of improving — no matter who plays quarterback.

As the losses mount and attendance dwindles, nobody has to tell the McNairs they have to re-energize a fan base that’s becoming more apathetic by the week.

(John McClain writes four columns a week for He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Monday and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on

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1 Comment

  • I agree all the way. The Lovie hiring was sorta forced and was almost inevidable. Lovie will be fired and a new coach with solid knoledge will be hired
    . Problem solved

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