Richard Justice: Now is the time for Texans CEO Cal McNair to speak up and tell us The Plan is working

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Justin Rex/AP/Shutterstock (12244013i) Houston Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair watches the team during NFL football practice, in Houston Texans Football, Houston, United States – 02 Aug 2021

Richard Justice: Now is the time for Texans CEO Cal McNair to speak up and tell us The Plan is working

   Once after Dallas Cowboys fans had booed Tom Landry and his team off the field, team owner Clint Murchison’s response was as refreshing as it was surprising.

   “I’m announcing that I’m giving Tom a new 10-year contract,” he told Cowboys president Tex Schramm the following morning.

   Schramm talked his boss out of that one, convincing him the timing, at least from a public relations standpoint, could not be worse.

   Things got better quickly. Two months later—two months to the day of that conversation—the Cowboys played in their first Super Bowl, losing to the Colts on a last-second field goal, 16-13.

   You probably know the rest of the story. Landry’s Cowboys had 20 consecutive winning seasons and 17 straight playoff appearances. They played in five Super Bowls between 1970 and 1978, and won two of them.

   Murchison’s point was that he believed he had the right guy coaching the Cowboys, and he wanted the world to know it. Murchison and Landry were not close, but that didn’t matter. Murchison believed in him.

   That one story says all you need to know about why Clint Murchison was a great owner and how he constructed one of the greatest sports franchises in North America.

He also understood that there are times when fans deserve an explanation about what’s happening with the team. Which brings us to the Texans. Few teams have ever needed a state-of-the-union address more than this one.

   Things need to be said that can’t come from head coach Lovie Smith. In fact, it’s cruel to keep sending him out to answer the kind of questions that need answering.

   Let’s not waste our time with general manager Nick Caserio either. He has perfected the art of stringing words together and saying nothing.

   This is on Cal McNair. No other voice matters. He’s a decent man, an essentially good man, and truly wants to build a winning franchise. At the very least, at the very least, he should tell the people that still care about this franchise—and there are thousands and thousands of them—that he understands their anger and doubt.

   He surely has noticed the empty seats at NRG Stadium and heard the boos. His team’s latest loss, a pitiful 27-14 defeat against Cleveland, may not have been the bottom since we see every other dismal defeat as that.

The Texans are an almost incomprehensible 5-29-1 since December 6, 2020. Despite all of that, there are reasons to believe they’re on track. Caserio was tasked with a thankless rebuild from the mess he inherited.

   What McNair could tell us is simple: “We are being transformed right before your eyes. What we’re doing now is critical to the next step. We’re playing a bunch of youngsters, and they’re learning on the fly. We had a great draft this year and will have another next year. When our franchise quarterback walks in the door, progress may come quickly.”

   He could tell us that 38% of the Texans players—20 of 53—have three years or less of NFL experience. In all, the Texans have 27 players, including 11 rookies, that weren’t on the team in 2021.

   Defensively, Texans rookies have the second-most playing time in the entire NFL. In a Week 9 loss to the Eagles, four rookies started on defense.

   Offensively, rookies Dameon Pierce, Troy Hairston, Teagan Quitoriano, and Kenyon Green have played almost 1,300 snaps. That’s invaluable experience.

   Things aren’t going to change dramatically until The Quarterback arrives. Whether that’s Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud is almost beside the point.

   More pressing for Caserio is this: Should he even draft a quarterback in 2023 when there’s likely to be two generational defensive players available in Georgia tackle Jalen Carter and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr?

   The Texans have an extra first-round draft choice the next two years, and if Caserio is playing a true long game, he could look at his 2024 draft board and see both USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye.

   Here’s the larger point: the Texans may very well be executing Caserio’s vision. Could someone just say it? Besides, no one expected them to win more than a handful of games in 2022 anyway.

   Houston football fans are so hungry for a winner that any sliver of daylight will be enthusiastically welcomed. These are things Lovie Smith can’t say because it’s not even clear that he’ll get a second season.

(On that topic, if Caserio really wanted Josh McCown, he should go ahead and hire him. If he truly believes McCown is going to be a great NFL head coach, then don’t wait for another franchise to hire him. It’s not comforting that Caserio seems to have so little confidence.)

   This is not complicated. McNair is the man in charge. He should not remain silent. At this point in Texans history, he could do himself a world of good by standing in front of a bank of microphones and telling us why he still believes things are headed in the right direction.

   He doesn’t need to extend Caserio’s contract by 10 years, but the Texans have never needed someone to tell us The Plan is in place and working just fine more than right now.

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1 Comment

  • Excellent article. I believe the Texas will improve after next year’s draft. Drafting a franchise QB will go a long way. Look what Burrow and Allen have done for the Bengals and Bills respectively.

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