Texas shooting ends Jack Easterby’s mysterious executive term

If you ask someone what Jack Easterby did in his roughly four seasons with the Texans, they probably still don’t quite know. Never before in the history of Houston football has there been such a mysterious CEO whose influence has reached so far beyond his credentials, that an obscure job title has given him broad enough scope to make a claim or receive praise and blame even for things he was not deeply involved in. big. .

It probably won’t be there again. The Texas Easterby was fired on Monday, a pivotal decision by President and CEO Cal McNair that, in terms of Easterby’s direct impact on the team’s on-field performance, arguably two seasons behind. Easterby’s heyday has passed, yet he was allowed to linger in the background while the franchise’s new leadership patched up the slate and blunders in budgeting that continue to plague sub-par Texans.

The timing of Easterby’s departure is intriguing, although the decision was inevitable. Easterby’s responsibilities as executive vice president of football operations have been significantly reduced since General Manager Nick Caserio was appointed in January 2021. McNair said in a statement that Easterby’s role could be absorbed by the team’s football operations team, “effective immediately.”

Teams don’t usually rock their front office structure mid-season without a plan in mind, and the Houston open week provided a convenient platform for both parties to break away from each other. Coach Luffy Smith declined to comment on Easterby’s dismissal but said he is “well aware of what is happening now” and how the franchise’s organizational structure will continue for the remaining 12 games.

Easterby oversaw the logistical and technology groups that supported the football operations workflow – such as the nutrition programme, weight room and sports medicine team – and each division has a lead that is now directly under Caserio’s supervision. Streamlined executive leadership should provide immediate clarity to the franchise that will decide in the off-season if these divisions require a joint manager.

Easterby’s ambiguous job title has often defied identification. The nature of his situation left room for complexity. Only three people reported directly to McNair – Caserio, Easterby and team boss Greg Grissom – and none of them reported each other. Neither of them can shoot the other. Easterby can vary across departments and create conflict but in the end will only be answerable to McNair.

McNair chose to keep Easterby following the 2020 sacking of former coach and general manager Bill O’Brien. Problematic staff decisions made in the O’Brien Easterby era led to roster chaos and salary cap chaos that prevented Texans from pursuing the agency’s top freelance talent for two consecutive seasons. Caserio said he knew rebuilding would be a “huge task” when he was hired.

Besides the lopsided trade that sent All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, Easterby negotiated a contract extension in 2020 with linebacker Zach Cunningham, defensive end Whitney Mercilus, and Cornerback Bradley Roby all of which included guarantees of at least $18 million. . None of those contracts lasted after Caserio’s first year in Houston, and the Texans still rank second in the NFL with $69.7 million in dead money, according to Over the Cap.

Easterby’s involvement in employee decisions was absolutely amazing. He arrived in Houston in 2019 after spending six seasons as a personal trainer with the Patriots. He served in the same position at the University of South Carolina from 2005 until 2010, when he joined the Kansas City Chiefs as a chaplain for two seasons.

Easterby has built a great reputation in New England. He earned the respect of coach Bill Belichick, who in November 2020 told reporters that Easterby was “a very valuable person” who could connect with everyone within the organization. The Patriots coach still hedges his comment by saying “Jack is not an individual person, no.”

Belichick was expressing surprise that Easterby had risen beyond a similar team development role in Houston. Easterby’s influence grew with O’Brien, whose power-hungry tendencies led to the ouster of former general manager Brian Jane. When O’Brien was fired after a 0-4 start in 2020, Easterby was named interim general manager.

Easterby then ceded all staff decisions to Caserio, a longtime Patriots executive who the Texans had twice previously tried to hire. Caserio immediately grasped all of football’s roster-oriented decisions — draft, free agency, trades and contracts — and was also the key man in both the Houston head coaches hunt, which McNair approved.

However, the presence of Easter was conspicuous. Just seeing him on the sidelines in 2021 angered a Texan fan base that was increasingly losing interest in her hometown team. Easter and Texas didn’t do much to squelch disdain. Easterby’s only media appearance in the last 25 months was a rare interview with a Philadelphia sports podcast in which he outlined his front office role with Caserio.

Easterby has not appeared in recorded availability with the media in Houston since the announcement of a contract extension for quarterback Deshaun Watson has since circulated in September 2020 – a schedule that has continued through several controversies, including a series of important Sports Illustrated articles about Easterby’s relationship with the team.

The strongest defender in Easterby was Caserio. The two worked together in New England from 2013 through 2018, and Caserio defended Easterby in a January interview with Sports Radio 610’s morning drive program “Payne & Pendergast,” saying Easterby “has been a boxing bag since he got here” and “quite honestly.” Some of it was unfair.”

The way Caserio sets out to organize football operations will be noteworthy. He entered five games into the second season of a six-year contract, and any eventual success or failure will now fall upon him even more.

And Casrio’s first coaching appointment, David Cooley, took just one season from 4 to 13. The Texans then almost hired former quarterback Josh McConne, who lacked any college or professional coaching experience, before turning to Smith, who was already On the staff as defense coordinator he was not formally interviewed until after finalist Brian Flores filed a racial discrimination lawsuit. American Football Association.

The potential influence of Easter in both studies cannot be ignored. As interim general manager, McCown signed up for the Texas coaching squad and landed three interviews with McConne for a head coaching position in Houston in less than a year. But Smith and Caserio are now indelibly linked.

How much success awaits Texas? How will Caserio deal with the future?

The punching bag has been removed.

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