Do the Texans know Jack? Faith in Easterby could be risky proposition

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By SportsRadio 610

(SportsRadio 610) -- They all say the same thing about Jack Easterby.

He is likeable, energetic, influential and a great person to be around. To add a favorite Texas colloquialism to Easterby’s persona: He’s good people.

But some who know Easterby best – from his stops in South Carolina, to Kansas City, New England and NRG Park – always seem to add a proviso to the unquestioned respect the interim Texans general manager commands.

He likes power. The more, the better.

And if he doesn’t have power, he tends to cozy up to power, earning the trust of those who can help him rise to places most would consider unthinkable.

It is that insatiable appetite for control that landed Easterby in his current role, rising from character coach at the University of South Carolina to team chaplain and various other roles in Kansas City and New England.

It’s also how he used connections with football people like Scott Pioli of the Chiefs, Nick Casserio and Bill Belichick of the Patriots and James Liipfert of the Texans to become former coach Bill O’Brien’s right-hand man.

Now all of a sudden, at one of the most pivotal moments in the organization’s history, Easterby has cozied up to Texans owner Cal McNair.

That alone, of course, should not preclude Easterby from having a strong voice in the Texans’ future.

McNair, after all, needs some kind of bridge from the O’Brien abomination to the next regime. Ambition and trust are not disqualifiers.

Easterby’s football acumen, however, have proved to be questionable at best. And that’s where things get dicey in this pivotal time within the organization.

If it wasn’t clear before, it should be abundantly clear after a 1-5 start to the season and Sunday’s bitter loss in Nashville that this team fields a disheveled roster.

O’Brien left the Texans in an almost comically bad state and it was all on display against the Tennessee Titans.
Running back David Johnson was horrendous. The defense was a sieve. Depth and talent were liabilities.

O’Brien crippled the Texans’ future in multiple ways.

He made arguably the worst trade in NFL history, shipping receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona, netting underwhelming running back David Johnson and a second-round draft pick.

He leveraged the future, shipping away valuable draft capital, including first- and second-round draft picks in 2021.

He drafted horribly – or at least horribly thus far, with no 2020 draft selections having an impact on the field.

He allowed valuable players to walk, while bringing in and paying above-market for players like Eric Murray and Randall Cobb.

He left nearly $11 million in dead-cap money on the books for players no longer on the roster. And he left the Texans in a sticky salary cap situation for the foreseeable future.

But he didn’t do it alone.

Easterby’s successful quest for power put him in lock-step with O’Brien, with the former head coach saying he and Easterby did everything together.

That included making salary-cap decisions, evaluating personnel, deciding on trades, everything.

This is not just O’Brien’s mess. It’s Easterby’s, too.

Now, Easterby is in charge of the entire football side of the organization, at least until the long-term decision is made at general manager, and he has McNair’s ear.

How much will McNair trust the likeable, influential Easterby? How much should he?

Only Monday, NFL insider Albert Breer said of Easterby, “If you talk to people who worked with him in New England … they were all sorts of suspicious of him. A lot of personnel people in the league wouldn’t trust him at this point.”

The Texans are in a bad, bad place today.

And Cal McNair has to figure out if one of the most questionable things O’Brien left behind was Jack Easterby.