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

Texans GM gives bye week team assessment

Houston Texans GM Nick Caserio addressed the media Tuesday and spoke on multiple positive and challenging things the team is currently dealing with.

Tuesday, Houston Texans GM Nick Caserio addressed the media and essentially gave his “Bye Week State of the Union.”

Caserio stated that while 1-3-1 is not where they want to be, they know there is a lot of football ahead of them and a lot of opportunity for them as well:

“Reality is you get what you earn in this league, and we’ve earned 1-3-1, so it’s not good enough. We’ve got a lot of work in front of us. I think everyone is accountable of that. In the end, all of us have to be better; we need to be better. The only way to do that is to come in each day with the right attitude the right mindset and, put in the work, and go out there and try and execute on a consistent basis. One of the things that stands out not only this week but if you go back to last week, it might’ve been the week before; 70-75 percent of the games have been once score games, so what does that mean. It means every play is critical, and we’ve talked about this here as a group. I’ve mentioned this, handful of plays in each game are going to be the difference of winning and losing. I think we’ve seen that in some of that in our games. I think when you watch the Vegas game, which is relevant because it’s our next opponent, that was the difference last night. 20-7 at halftime vs. 20-7 at the end of the half, kickoff with 10 seconds left, have a completion, have a penalty, kick a field goal, a 60-yard field goal, the longest at Arrowhead Stadium. 20-10, so one-possession game to get the ball to start the second half, so Kansas City has a two-for-one there. Score at the end of half, score on the first possession, 20-17. Kind of goes back and forth there in the fourth quarter. Get the penalty on the field goal attempt by Kansas City, miss the field goal, get the pull-and-shoot call, they score. Vegas goes down, scores a touchdown, misses the two-point conversion, and in the end, it’s a one-point game, and it comes down to a fourth-and-1 at the end of the game. That’s the NFL. That’s reality of what we face. We see it in our game; we’ve seen it in our games. In the end, we haven’t executed well enough, and we’ve earned 1-3-1. We have some opportunity in front of us to get better. There’s certainly some things we can improve and fix, and that’s got to be the commitment to each other and the team. This league is about identifying problems and finding solutions. The quicker we can do that, the better off we’ll be, and that will translate hopefully into more wins and less losses. That’s where we’re at.”

Caserio discussed the attitude and work ethic of the rookie class, and praised them for their hard work, particularly Dameon Pierce:

“I think they’ve come in and had the right attitude. They’ve worked hard, and they have varying levels of production. The rookie class, it kind of starts with a tip of the cap to Liip (James Liipfert), (Mozique McCurtis), John Ritcher, Baille (Brown), Brad (Mathews), Najja (Johnson), George (Panagiotopoulos), that group. They’re intimately involved in that process in terms of identifying those players. They’ve (the rookies) have come in with the right attitude. Really, we’re only five games in. I don’t think we can get too excited about where we are, just got to be realistic. It’s really about repetitive behavior over the course of time. Anybody can go out there and do it in a short period of time. Can you sustain that performance week after week, month after month, and season after season, and ultimately your longevity is going to be based on that. We’ve gotten decent production out of that group, but I think the attitude and the mindset probably stands out more than anything. We’ll use (Dameon) Pierce as an example. So Monday is the off day for players, and yesterday, he’s in squatting 425. People wonder why is he successful on the field? Well, he’s successful because he works hard, he’s got the right attitude, he’s a good teammate, he trusts the people around him, he gives credit to his teammates, the offensive line, to the tight ends, doesn’t make it about himself. I think more players with that attitude, more players with that mindset collectively in this building and in this program. Ultimately, that’s what it takes. It’s not about one player; it’s never going to be about player or one person or one draft class or anything like that. It’s a collective effort of over the course of time. When those guys have had opportunities, they’ve done some good things. There’s plenty of room for improvement from those players. I would say the other thing that’s taken place is now we have five games, and everyone has kind of seen our team and our players. It’s a personnel-driven league. It’s about strengths and weaknesses, being able to identify strengths and weaknesses in the opponent who you’re playing against. Whatever you do well, you try to extenuate that and maintain that; whatever you’re not doing well, teams are going to find it. You have to figure out a way to fix the perceived weakness so that it doesn’t become a bigger problem as a team. Overall, they’ve had a good attitude, worked hard, including the guys that weren’t drafted, including the guys on the practice squad. We’ll see if we can kind of continue that. I would save that mindset moving forward.”

Caserio likes what he has seen from Pierce, particularly his 20-yard “Beast Mode” run vs. Jacksonville:

“It was a good play. In the context of the drive, we were able to get the ball in the right area, the ball on the goal line, get the ball in a scoring situation. I think collectively, as an offense, we had an opportunity to get the play started, and then once you get into the second level, being able to make tackles miss. (Dameon Pierce) has good lower body strength, good toughness, he’s got good playing strength, and I think you saw some of those things on that particular play. There is a certain level of want-to-to-finish plays. We talk about this, coach (George) Warhop talks about this, just straining on the offensive line, straining to finish. I think it’s a good example of DP (Dameon Pierce) straining to finish and really doing everything in his power just to try to keep the ball moving forward. I’d say the best thing about that play, I mean, the next play, wasn’t as good, but the best part about that play was the ball security with all the traffic, with breaking tackles, being able to secure the ball. The next play, we were near the goal line; we were fortunate that his ass was on the ground by about that much before the ball came out. Nothing is more important than ball security. Especially down near the goal line, you want to make sure you take care of the football. Because taking care of the football hopefully leads to points. It was a great effort on his behalf, and hopefully, we can take more of that as a team.”

The GM doesn’t feel he needs to add any more backs to complement Pierce:

“I think we’re comfortable with the players that are on the team. We really have five backs called in the building, two on the practice squad. Royce (Freeman) has played for us, played in the NFL. Dare (Ogunbowale) has had opportunities in Jacksonville when he’s had to carry the ball. (Dameon) Pierce has gotten the ball, carries. Rex (Burkhead) has a good role, but not afraid to use Dare or, to your early question, Royce on the practice squad. At some point, Royce might become and option. We’re going to need everybody here from now until the end of the season. Just making sure that we have the right people that we feel comfortable with. I think there’s a reason the players that are in the building are here because we’re comfortable with them and because we have confidence that if we have to put them in the game and play, they’ll be able to give us some level of production.”

The Texans GM expressed optimism that they can help QB Davis Mills be more consistent and help the team win more games, but he knows it isn’t just about one player to help the QB succeed:

“I think overall, as a team, we just need to be more consistent with our performance. There’s been some good things; there’s been some things that we can certainly do better. To put Davis (Mills) in that category, I think it’s more emblematic of the team more than anything else and making it about one player. Had some moments as a team. We could have better moments. If we do that, hopefully, that’ll lead to more wins.”

Caserio further elaborated on the offense:

“Offensive football is whatever you have to do win, move the ball and score more points. Let’s not oversimplify it. In the end, that’s what it comes down to. Whatever you have to do to get that point, I’d say there’s some things we’ve done. We’re looking at it here this week; there were some things that we’ve been better than others. If there ways we can improve in some of those areas that we’re not as good, it will help the overall ability to continue to move the ball and score points. Third down could certainly be better. Third down is really first down, so early down production equates to third down. It’s all tied together. In the end, offensive football is about moving the ball and scoring points. How do you do that? Every team has their philosophy. Every team has a different approach. Quarterback position, I don’t care who the quarterback is, what team you’re talking about; we have to make the right decision, take care of the football, throw the ball accurately, and then be able to execute in critical situations. Pick a winner. That’s what your quarterback has to be able to do. Tell me the scheme, doesn’t matter the offense, doesn’t matter what you’re running. Those are things that are important. Offensively, move the ball, score points, and get the ball in the end zone. In the end, it’s about points, and that’s what matters.”

Caserio spoke highly of the work and performance of his two highest-drafted defensive rookies this season, CB Derek Stingley Jr. and S Jalen Pitre:

“They’ve played a lot of football prior to arriving here in Houston. I know it’s college, I know it was at Baylor, but they’ve played a lot of football. I think they’re learning a lot. I think there’s certain things that they can do better. They’ll admit that. I think one of the things Joe’s (Danna) talked to Jalen (Pitre) about, Jalen is a good football player, but he’s missed a lot of tackles. If tackling is something you can certainly improve, we’ve talked to Jalen about that. Over the last couple of weeks, he’s certainly gotten better. Finding areas that you can improve as a football player, it’s not just about all the splash. It’s about being consistent and improving areas that maybe you’re not performing as well. He’s got the right attitude. He’s got as good as a routine as any young players from the time he walks in the building in the morning. Before practice, he’s in the weight room, he’s stretching, he’s going through his preparation. Being a good player is about having the routine, having preparation, being committed to that week-after-week, day-after-day. That’s what’s going to make you a good player and then having a requisite physical skill behind it. All those factors go into it. Those who players in particular (Jalen Pitre and Derek Stingley Jr.), which I would say is emblematic most of the rookies, have that mind set and approach.”

Caserio also explained that their cap situation is not a hindrance to the team:

“Yeah, really, not a challenge at all. It’s really not that tight. I mean, we’re not really that different. There are some teams that have a little bit more; some teams have a little bit less. It’s just about managing the year during the season. Quite frankly, there’s really not much movement. You’re managing week-to-week, you’re managing the practice squad, players are going to come on and off the roster. Financially, you have to look at salary. If you’re doing a trade, obviously, a player’s salary for the duration of the year or whatever the paragraph-five salary is at the beginning of the season. It’s 12 weeks; prorate that. Does it makes sense? What’s the cost of doing that? We don’t want to feel constrained by anything. If there’s an opportunity to add a player that makes sense, we’ll look at it. If not, then we won’t. It’s very simple. I would say, really, it’s not that much different from where we were last year. We’ll manage the season; we’ll manage the team. Guys are going to be going on and off the roster, guys will be going on and off the practice squad, guys will be going on and off injured reserve, so it’s the cost of doing business. Every team’s got to deal with it; we’re no different. Once the season is over, then we’ll recalibrate and look at 2023 in terms of where we stand.”

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