Richard Justice: Cal McNair should be on the phone to Sean Payton first thing Wednesday morning

Nov 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Justice: Cal McNair should be on the phone to Sean Payton first thing Wednesday morning

   Here’s hoping the Texans do not overthink this latest search for a head coach. Just go hire Sean Payton.

   Other candidates may one day be great NFL coaches. That’s not where the Texans are at this point in their history. The Texans need the credibility that hiring Sean Payton would bring them because credibility is something they do not currently have.

   He’s a proven winner, a Super Bowl champion, a future Hall of Famer. He would become the face of a franchise that desperately needs one. He might even be the first step in filling those acres of empty seats at NRG Stadium at a time when the Texans have lost 31 of their last 39 games.

    You’re probably thinking Payton wouldn’t be interested in coaching the Texans. You’re certain he’ll have better options. Or you’re thinking the Texans won’t even try to hire him. You’re thinking this isn’t Cal McNair’s style.

   It’s perhaps the ultimate insult to the Texans that pretty much no one believes there’s even a chance that Payton will be the Texans’ head coach.

    Virtual interviews can be done on Wednesday, in-person chats next Tuesday. McNair should at least attempt to convince Payton that he would have every resource he needs to build a champion, all while living in one of the best cities on earth and a place that loves football. There’ll be statues built for the guy that turns the Texans into consistent winners.

   Are there complicating factors? Absolutely. Doing great things can be hard. On the other hand, has making the safe hire, the easy hire, worked out for the Texans?

   First, McNair must work out a compensation package with the New Orleans Saints, who are going to demand a first-round pick. McNair simply can’t do that, even though the value of finally getting a great head coach would be worth it.

   The Jets gave the Chiefs a fourth-round pick for Herm Edwards in 2006. That feels about right. The Saints are going to get more than that, but it’s a good place to start.

   Now about general manager Nick Caserio. He’s two years into a six-year contract that gives him control of personnel. This is where McNair has to get Caserio and Payton into a room and find out if they’re a fit for one another.

   If Caserio is so insecure that working with a strong, opinionated coach — a proven coach — is out of his comfort zone, McNair might need to take a deeper look at his organization.

   Caserio is about to hire his third head coach in as many seasons. His first two hires do not inspire confidence in his judgment. In the past, he has seemed infatuated with former NFL quarterback Josh McCown, who has no coaching experience above the ranks of Texas high schools.

What Caserio may be doing is building a competitive roster. The 2022 draft class may end up being excellent, and the Texans have given invaluable experience to younger players.

The Texans may not be a franchise quarterback away from the playoffs, but they could be closer than it appears at first glance.

    Why would Payton be interested in the Texans? This is the easy part. The Texans could offer him anything he wants in terms of money, influence, and a great place to live. Caserio has done a great job accumulating draft picks, 11 in this spring’s draft, including two first-rounders. They have two more first-rounders in 2024.

   They can offer him a fanbase that is desperate to win, desperate not just to win, but to see any indication that the people in charge feel any sense of urgency.

   There’s no better football city than Houston. There’s certainly no place as hungry for a winning team. This should be one of the NFL’s model franchises.

    This won’t be about salary. Payton probably will be in such demand that’ll he get whatever he wants. To interview him is to understand that. McNair’s challenge is convincing him that the Texans do know what they’re doing.

   Payton succeeded in New Orleans, in large part, because he had a franchise quarterback in Drew Brees. He can have that here with the chance to draft either Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud next spring.

   Payton would change so much the day he walks into NRG Stadium. He’d signal to fans that there’s someone in charge they can believe in. His hiring would create a momentum going into a very important draft and another dip into free agency.

   Timetables on NFL rebuilds are tricky things. One thing that’s certain is that it always begins with the acquisition of a championship-caliber quarterback.

   The Texans could check both those boxes this offseason, but it begins with hiring the right coach. The Texans have lacked any kind of bold vision through the years, and virtually no one expects that this time.

By the time you read this, Payton could be signed, sealed, and delivered to the Broncos or some other team. If the Texans hired Payton, if they made him an offer he could not refuse, it would shock the entire NFL.

   Do it, Cal, do it.

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1 Comment

  • Sounds great but yer right about Cal, he do’nt have the guts. Too bad

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