Houston Texans

Houston Texans

Everything That Can Go Wrong, Has Gone Wrong

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The most important thing to know about 21st-century America is how late-stage capitalism works from a sales perspective. Instead of a marketplace of ideas where theories will naturally compete, many people now make a living by getting data on specific customers, targeting them directly, then offering ideas to them. Sometimes that's fairly innocent—buy our book, you love football and want in-depth knowledge—and more often it leads to a grifter class of Nigerian 401 scam-level comforting ideas masquerading as solutions. The phone calls you get about your extended warranty expiring or wanting to buy your house, the idea that bleach could cure COVID, the fact that you are pre-approved for a loan from a bank or payday operation for practically anything at onerous terms of repayment. We've long ago given up on the people who monitor fraud as a country—the phrase "red tape" killed them—and instead we simply live surrounded by it and judge those who fall for it.

Often, the NFL is a respite from that. Teams have incentives to win and the people in front offices are generally quite smart. The football cocoon, as Establish The Run's Evan Silva has called it, protects those within it and gives short shrift to outsiders. Even outsiders with good ideas! It took years and an Eagles championship before fourth-down goes started to gain more widespread acceptance.

Enter Jack Easterby, a man whose religious connection with Texans acting owner and CEO Cal McNair has put this franchise to the torch. Nobody in an NFL front office has turned more into less over the last two seasons. And nobody is as unimpeachably locked into his spot via the oldest trick of the 21st century: all you have to do is fool one person with power.

The 2020 Texans played less of a season and more of a dramatic opera. The curtain finally fell for Bill O'Brien after an 0-4 start, one where behind-the-scenes tensions reportedly led to shouting matches on the practice field between O'Brien and defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver as well as star end J.J. Watt. The epitaph for O'Brien doesn't make...