Empty gesture? How the Texans might be fumbling Bill O’Brien’s firing

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By SportsRadio 610

(SportsRadio 610) -- When Texans owner Cal McNair fired Bill O’Brien, he rid himself of an albatross and gained respect.

Fans who saw McNair as indecisive or a pushover, did a double-take. They rethought preconceived notions. They had hope things finally started to look up.

The Texans were in business.

But are they?

McNair did what previously was considered unthinkable. He pulled the trigger on firing O’Brien and signaled a new era. McNair was focused on a new direction and on changing fortunes from also rans to contenders.

But three weeks into the post-Bill O’Brien era, it is becoming clear,  or at least a question: Was that just an empty gesture? Was firing Bill O’Brien more about protecting the brand than forging a new future?

It is becoming apparent the Texans are in fact not keenly inclined on trading assets and building for the future.

That is, clearing salary cap and accumulating draft picks.

More specifically, trading J.J. Watt and others who could bring draft picks and salary space.

Three weeks after O’Brien's firing, has anything really changed? More importantly, will it before the end of the season?

SportsRadio 610 insider John McClain said this week the Texans absolutely will not trade J.J. Watt. Couple that with the fact that the man who teamed with O'Brien to create the mess that is the 2020 season, Jack Easterby, still is in charge.

And add even on top of that the fact that now is the best time to leverage assets and take advantage of a seller's market, and you have lots of questions if anything really is looking up.

As of now, the Texans have done nothing to take advantage of the trade deadline’s window of opportunity other than continue to do business as-is.

Everything looks the same. Everything is the same.

Except the name at the top.

In truth, the Bill O’Brien firing is looking more like a gesture then the start of real change. If assets are not traded the Texans will go into the off-season as they would have with Bill O’Brien. They will be over the cap. They will have contracts hanging over their collective heads. They will have no premium draft picks.

So what, exactly, did the firing accomplish? As of now. Nothing.

And here is where it gets most interesting. The common belief that the Texans will be the most attractive job opening next season is patently false.

Sure to Deshaun Watson makes the Texans a destination point for top coaches. But the Jets, Jaguars and Falcons all figure to have job openings.

The Falcons already do. So, too, might the Lions.

The Jets and Jaguars each have three draft picks in the top 35 overall, including the current No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks respectively.

The Falcons have two in the top 35, including No. 4 overall. The Texans do not have a pick until No. 67 and only two in the top 100.

All four of those teams also will have much more cap space to spend. And on top of it all, they are in the stakes for top quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, and by drafting them the next head coach in those destinations will have a much longer leash than in Houston.

In Houston, the clock is ticking and fans are anxious.

For years, the Texans have been widely criticized as more obsessed with their brand than the product on the field.

It has been a consortium of good guys and high character and popular figures around whom they've built their house.

While the reality is every NFL team wants to win, sometimes sacrificing a popular player or the status quo is the only route to get better. And thus far the Texans have not done that.

Thus far, the O’Brien firing is more symbolic.

And with the trade deadline looming next Tuesday, if nothing changes between now and then the reality is the Texans have changed nothing.

It’s as if O’Brien still is coach and this team still is stuck going nowhere.