Texans’ organizational structure could cause a coach-G.M. showdown

AP

One of the odd things about the Ryan Mallett fiasco is that coach Bill O’Brien shouldn’t need General Manager Rick Smith’s permission to cut Mallett. According to multiple reports, O’Brien has final say over the team’s 53-player roster.

So how can it be that O’Brien wanted to cut Mallett for missing a team flight on Saturday, and Smith refused? If O’Brien has final say, why doesn’t he just cut Mallett whether Smith likes it or not?

The problem could be related to the structure of the Texans’ front office: Although O’Brien has final say over which 53 players are on the roster, Smith has final say over the pool of players that O’Brien can draw from — Smith makes the call on free agency, the draft and trades. So as long as the only quarterbacks on the Texans’ roster are Brian Hoyer and Mallett, O’Brien needs Smith to be on board with a decision to cut Mallett because O’Brien would need Smith to sign a new backup quarterback to replace Mallett.

Theoretically, O’Brien could say, “I’m cutting Mallett,” and Smith couldn’t do anything about it. But Smith could reply, “If you do that, I’m not signing another quarterback and you’ll be stuck running the wildcat the rest of the season if Hoyer gets hurt.” And O’Brien couldn’t do anything about that.

One would hope that an NFL franchise wouldn’t get so dysfunctional that it would come to that. And if it ever did come to that, Texans owner Bob McNair would surely jump in and either get his coach and G.M. to work it out, or fire one (or both) of them.

But the mere fact that someone within the organization is leaking the news that O’Brien and Smith disagree about what to do with Mallett suggests that there’s a fundamental problem with this franchise. A head coach with roster control and a G.M. with personnel control can only work together successfully if they have similar guiding philosophies. That doesn’t appear to be the case in Houston, which means it’s probably time for either O’Brien or Smith (or both) to go.

67 responses to “Texans’ organizational structure could cause a coach-G.M. showdown

  1. If Texans are smart they will fire Billy O, Rick Smith, and cut Mallet. But then again when is the last time the Texans did anything smart…? Coming from a Texans fan.

  2. Smith is Cal McNair’s (as in the owner’s son) kid’s Godfather. He’s effectively got a job for life, no matter how badly he’s failed over the years.

  3. Another overrated coach/payer coming out of NE. he was so smart he thought that Penn State would forget about Paterno after he retired. Just couldn’t clear that hurdle.

  4. 1. Hothead coach talks GM into making trade for Mallett.
    2. Mallett is Mallett.
    3. Hothead Coach gets mad and wants to dump Mallett, leaving team with no #2QB with experience in the offense.
    4. GM makes hothead coach deal with it.

    Personally, this is a great move by Rick Smith. McNair hasn’t found a camera to get in front of yet, but when he does, he’ll likely fire Smith. Because, Texans.

  5. This is why we need a Hard Knocks epilogue at the mid way point to see how that teams season is going. Im sure the NFL could squeeze more money from HBO for it.

  6. One of the strengths of the Patriots: never a conflict between the coach and the GM. Unless he/they develop multiple personalities.

  7. “But Smith could reply, “If you do that, I’m not signing another quarterback and you’ll be stuck running the wildcat the rest of the season if Hoyer gets hurt.” And O’Brien couldn’t do anything about that.”

    O’Brien couldn’t do anything directly, but he wouldn’t need to. If Smith did something that he would look like the biggest tool in football, and that’s saying A LOT.

  8. If the GM really sees a benefit in keeping a loser like Mallet then he needs to go pronto. The guy can’t play or show up on time for team flights? Ridiculous, has no business being on an NFL roster.

  9. They fired Gary Kubiak. He’s undefeated in Denver. Isn’t it funny though. Philbin looked brilliant with Aaron Rodgers, and O’Brien looked brilliant with Tom Brady. Kubiak looked brilliant with John Elway. That’s why he got the Texans job in the first place. Then he got dumb, but re-surfaced in Denver with Peyton Manning and he’s smart again. I have a great idea. Why don’t the Texans hire Josh McDaniels. He looks brilliant in New England. Then O’Brien can go back to New England and be brilliant again.

  10. Watching NFL Hard Knocks, I couldn’t help but feel like this was a poor marriage. I was constantly asking myself…who’s the GM and who’s the coach? First off, the talent is OK, the Thompkins pick was a home run, the Clowney pick was not…O’Brien and Smith failing to go after a QB NOW shows that they had an egregious lack of urgency to build this team…it’s not working, nor does it trend that way. Smith goes first in this thing, O’Brien gets another year to muck it up.

  11. Something similar happen in New England when Parcells was there. “If I’m going to be asked to cook the meal, I’d like to be able to pick the groceries.” Doesn’t sound like Rick Smith has the groceries O’Brien wants.

  12. Can they please trade JJ Watt to a contender? It’s a shame to see his career waste away in Houston.

  13. Bad move by the GM to overrule the coach then allow the dispute to become public. O’Brien is not the best or even close but good luck to the owner or GM who tries to bring in one of the top names after treating a coach in this manner. The Colts are in the middle of a similar situation which is destroying the team. These guys have egos much larger than their talent.

  14. Smith has to be the one to go. We’ve seen for years what Smith and Kubiak did and we’ve only had one season of Bill O’Brien. Mallett should be cut, he’s had every opportunity but has continually shown since college that he just doesn’t have it between the ears. Bill O’Brien will draft a QB, hopefully Conner Cook, and then we need to let him try and prove himself without Smith. People keep talking about Smith drafting JJ Watt. He wanted Aldon Smith and had to be talked out of it by Wade Phillips. How has Aldon Smith turned out so far? Kubiak and Schaub have thankfully been run out of town and Smith needs to join them once the season is over. Romeo Crennel needs to join him too. He has ridden the coattails of Belichick for too long and hasn’t done anything on his own. Failed in Cleveland, failed in KC, and has somehow made this defense look like garbage.

  15. O’Brien wanted to cut Mallett on Saturday. Only problem is that he was the only backup QB available to play on Sunday. Sounds perfectly reasonable to wait until another QB is identified to make a move.

  16. “So as long as the only quarterbacks on the Texans’ roster are Brian Hoyer and Mallett, O’Brien needs Smith to be on board with a decision to cut Mallett because O’Brien would need Smith to sign a new backup quarterback to replace Mallett.”
    __________________

    How is that any different from any other time a player is released? They might have 10 defensive linemen but cutting any one of them would still mean Smith would have to replace that guy with somebody. The fact that in this case the replacement would have to be a QB doesn’t seem like much of a distinction.

    Bottom line is that either O’Brien has final say over the roster or he doesn’t. And he clearly doesn’t no matter what the Texans want you to believe.

  17. johnnyjagfan says: Oct 27, 2015 11:51 AM

    1. Hothead coach talks GM into making trade for Mallett.
    2. Mallett is Mallett.
    3. Hothead Coach gets mad and wants to dump Mallett, leaving team with no #2QB with experience in the offense.
    4. GM makes hothead coach deal with it.

    Personally, this is a great move by Rick Smith. McNair hasn’t found a camera to get in front of yet, but when he does, he’ll likely fire Smith. Because, Texans.
    ___________________________

    The move is so great that the Texans just released Mallet

  18. saintsfan1111 says: Oct 27, 2015 12:24 PM

    LOL…the guy missed the game flight. Who does that? Ok, I
    ‘m sure it’s happened, but a quarterback?
    _________________________

    I’m game, I will guess Le’Veon Bell and Lagarrette Blount last year with the Steelers. At least I think that was what happened. Something about getting pulled over smoking weed on the way to the team flight…

  19. O’Brien seems like a likeable guy who knows what he’s doing. For some reason he tried the former back up Patriots plan and it has failed. Mallet has been more insubordinate than Greg Hardy yet the GM won’t cut him. Smith should get the axe, like yesterday.

  20. I’d bet the 41-0 first half had a lot to do with what the players thought about Mallett being on the side line and in uniform ready to play after missing the team flight.

  21. An ideal management structure for the press would be to have a pool of reporters sit in on every conversation between the owner/gm/coach/staff/players

  22. Just in case you missed it.. Texans cut Mallett today and has signed T.J. Yates.

    Hello, Super Bowl!!!!

  23. More than likely I see a duel conversation where the coach tells the Gm he NEEDS to cut someone and asked the GM if in doing so can they get a replacement? Otherwise you have chaos

  24. questionableprovenance says:

    One of the strengths of the Patriots: never a conflict between the coach and the GM.
    =======================================

    Same with Dallas, who has even more Lombardi’s than the Patriots and is worth more than any sports team in human history.

  25. Isn’t it possible that Rick Smith said, “No, Bill, we can’t cut Mallet. Today’s Saturday, we have a game tomorrow, and if we cut him, Hoyer will be our only active QB.”?

  26. What a train wreck. Also, this is why a D end can never win MVP. You can have the best DE in football and still be a useless disaster of a team, like Houston. You can never have the best QB in football and be a useless disaster of a team.

  27. If Smth is the godfather of one of McNair’s grandchildren he’s not going anywhere. Nepotism will kill this franchise. How many overall No.1 picks can a team get and still suck?

  28. these 2 were so smug on hard knocks. I’m looking forward to seeing them both WHACKED.

    JJ watt is the most overrated player this decade. I would try to trade him as well….he is all bark no bite.

  29. the fact that this overated .419% winning arrogant team sucks makes my day. McNair tried to give advice to the new Astros owner on how to run a franchise. only 4 years over .500 and he is giving advice LMAO

  30. Fire O’Brien (HC), Crennel (DC), Godsey (OC) and Vrabel (Linebackers). Without JJ Watt and Brian Cushing, this team is a sham. I’d make JJ Watt the Head Coach.

  31. Maybe JJ Watt can be the GM and handle the personnel, the coach, the offensive and defensive coordinator, and draft the draft picks, throw the ball, catch the ball, cover the WR, sack the QB, kick the FG’s, do the kickoffs…And then rip off his uniform to display his Superman uniform and fly away.

  32. One game out of first place and tied with J’ville. Everybody from GM to ball boy should be playing for a job in the Titans game and into bye week. All is not lost. Get rid of the pre-season expectations and just start playing ball.

    Mallett actually looked good in start against the Colts. Two really good hard and accurate throws that Hoyer cannot do.

    O’Brien should not have denied Mallett’s return to the Colts game. One series, and then back in – no matter what Hoyer (or a Whitehurst or a Weeden or a Moore) did.

  33. Such a non story. Both likely wanted to cut Mallet, but the GM was smart enough to realize they had to get someone else on the roster first.

  34. the GM sounds like the guy to go, if he thinks that Mallett should have still been on the roster. Kick him to the curb.

    Call up Tim Tebow – he’ll run the wildcat for you, when Hoyer goes down.

  35. O’Brien should have stayed at Penn State. Surely he knew those sanctions had the same chance of sticking as the Brady suspension.

    He’ll be OK though. After Detroit drafts a WR with the #1 pick, O’Brien will threaten Smith and McNair with bodily harm if they don’t draft Hackenberg at #2. Then we’ll see how good of a coach he really is…

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