When news broke this week that Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien was named general manager of the team and is acting in a dual role, no one

Bill O’Brien

seemed surprised. O’Brien has pretty much been calling the shots on personnel moves for a while.
It stands to reason, because interim GM Chris Olsen was fired, and Jack Easterby was promoted to Executive Vice President of Football Operations as part of a major overhaul of the front office and coaching.
It is interesting that the salaries and compensation of O’Brien and Easterby will not change with their new titles.
But the questions are:
What is the thinking here?
And what does this all mean to the Texans’ future?

The Strategy

The Texans have done a real re-shuffling of the organization, so you have to wonder what owner Janice McNair and son Cal are planning.
Here’s some speculation on my part:
Easterby has always been considered part of O’Brien’s inner circle, so maybe the plan is to have those two working in tandem with the chores of GM.
Maybe – and here’s a thought – O’Brien is being phased out as head coach and will be just GM eventually, since it is harder to find a good GM than a good coach.
Or maybe no one likes O’Brien, and all of the housecleaning is an effort to get the people who will be willing to work with him.
We know the GM announcement was met with a lot of blowback from the local press, which points to animosity among people apt to dial up a media pal and complain.

What it Means

So how does this situation apply to the future of the franchise?
Well first of all, it is good to have a person with the title of General Manager who is acting as a general manager.
O’Brien had his GM tryout over the past few months, making deals that have had mixed results.
He shipped out a few strong players, including Jadeveon Clowney, and dealt away first round draft picks for the next two seasons. Not good.
In return, though, he got Laremy Tunsil, Duke Johnson, Jacob Martin, Carlos Hyde and Gareon Conley, all who had big parts in a 10-6 AFC South championship season and Houston’s second-ever playoff win. That’s good.
But one of the reasons franchises have a general manager in a separate office, is to have someone to look at the bigger picture.
And the bigger picture is this: the Texans have don’t have a first-round pick in the next draft, and exactly one top-100 pick over the next two years.
Plus, Hyde will be a free agent this offseason, and Tunsil will be asking for big money in a contract extension over the summer.
So O’Brien and Easterly have their work cut out for them in order to keep up with the now-powerful Tennessee Titans, the sure-to-be-back Indy Colts, and the Jacksonville Jags, whatever they do, over the next few years.
It may all be forgotten by the time people start buying tickets to Texans games this summer. Buy it will be interesting to see how things shape up.