Poor communication, questionable decisions led to Deshaun Watson’s dissatisfaction

Atlanta Falcons v Houston Texans
Getty Images

As quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to want a trade and as the Texans continue to pretend that he doesn’t, an important question lingers.

How did it get to this point?

A new article in TheAthletic.com takes a closer look at how Watson lost faith in the team. The story points to a handful of incidents that caused Watson to lose trust in the team, sparking his desire to leave.

First, Watson learned of the DeAndre Hopkins trade on social media. That became the “first major crack” in the relationship.

That didn’t stop Watson from signing a long-term contract extension with the team. Per the report, those negotiations included O’Brien telling Watson’s representatives “that the quarterback would be more involved in the team-building process moving forward.”

It quickly became obvious, however, that offseason efforts to improve the team had resulted in a larger, not smaller, gap between the Texans and Chiefs. Then came three more losses and the abrupt firing of coach/G.M. Bill O’Brien. As a result of the decision to dump O’Brien, “Watson questioned the Texans’ plan — if they had one at all.”

The plan, by all appearances, seems to involve executive V.P. of football operations Jack Easterby holding and expanding his power and influence. If so, that plan has been wildly successful. The team, however, has not been.

Watson apparently doesn’t like the Easterby approach. Per the report, Watson’s public call for “a whole culture shift” was a “direct message to Cal McNair” that the team should get rid of Easterby. McNair, obviously, didn’t — and won’t — dump Easterby.

It got worse after the season, when the Texans created the impression that Watson would have input in the major hires but didn’t. The off-the-board decision to make Nick Caserio the new G.M. (the report in TheAthletic.com echoes our prior report that McNair was led to believe that Caserio was posed to join the Panthers, even if he wasn’t) became the latest development of which Watson learned through social media. Then, his recommendation that the team interview Eric Bieniemy and Robert Saleh for the head-coaching position was ignored.

Given the recent obsession with “culture” in Houston, the team’s resistance to trade a player who wants to be no part of that culture becomes even more confusing. Watson wants Easterby out; why would Easterby want to keep Watson around?

Maybe they hope he’ll eventually come around. Or maybe they just don’t want to let him have his way. After all, this is the franchise that gave the football-following world a regrettable catch phrase: “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

If the son of the man who spoke those word in 2017 believes them to be true, this tug-of-war with Watson could be, at its core, an effort to not let Watson show that he can get his way. If so, that would represent a gross failure of the Texans to make decisions in the true and actual best interests of the team.

22 responses to “Poor communication, questionable decisions led to Deshaun Watson’s dissatisfaction

  1. Cal McNair needs to fire his pastor/surrogate owner Easterby. This team is a train wreck at this point and no light on the horizon that I can see. Everything is based around Easterby further entrenching his power and surrounding himself with staff that will be beholden to him.

  2. “The plan, by all appearances, seems to involve executive V.P. of football operations Jack Easterby holding and expanding his power and influence.”
    ———————

    Pretty sure EVERY VP of Football Operations in the league IS SUPPOSED to have that level of power and influence with his team. Whether you like him or not, that’s his JOB.

  3. Management’s job is to MANAGE; player’s job is to PLAY. Pretty sure not a single employee in the world gets to decide who his boss is or what direction the company goes.

    As for trading Hopkins, didn’t Watson just have the BEST career year without him?

  4. In September, he signed a 4-year, $177 million extension with $111 million guaranteed. 4 months later he wants a trade? His questionable decision for sure. Those zeros and commas cloud your judgement?

  5. You guys can say what you want, but Watson gets only one career. If I’m him, I’m doing the exact same thing, not wasting it playing for a clown show run by McNair and Easterby.

  6. O’Brien: “Man, you can’t screw up a team any worse than I did!”
    Easterby: “Hold my beer, watch this!”

  7. chefboyd says:
    February 18, 2021 at 11:21 am
    Pretty sure EVERY VP of Football Operations in the league IS SUPPOSED to have that level of power and influence with his team. Whether you like him or not, that’s his JOB.
    ——————-
    No. Certainly not in New England, and in other teams to (be it NFL or other sports) the VP of Football Operations is usually in charge of making sure a team stays within budget, within the rules and regs of the league, and within the vision of the ownership. In the NFL he or she works alongside the GM and the HC to recruit, make picks and cuts and other key decisions. The pecking order between the 3 varies from team to team, but the VP of Football Operations doesn’t ever sit above a GM or HC, that would more properly be a President or a CEO, depending on structure.

  8. Management’s job is to MANAGE; player’s job is to PLAY. Pretty sure not a single employee in the world gets to decide who his boss is or what direction the company goes.

    As for trading Hopkins, didn’t Watson just have the BEST career year without him?

    ——————————————

    That may be the way it is for the hourly employee, but when you get paid based off of production the ball is in the employees court. The shark gets catered to because at the end of the day he brings in the money. It’s managements job to make sure their biggest producers can produce to their full capability. If you can’t do that for your employee then someone else will be more than happy to make it happen. Watson has all the right in the world to go where he wants. He brings in the money.

  9. If they didn’t wanna give Watson input they shouldn’t have promised it. I dont blame Watson id be upset if my boss lied to me too. Why should he work for someone he can’t trust?

  10. So Watson wants to be notified in advance of roster decisions, wants to have a say over upper-management hires in team operations, and wants the team to follow his suggestions on coaching hires, all as a condition of his employment.

    Presumably, without any of those things actually being spelled out in his employment contract.

    I guarantee you that every player in the NFL is unhappy about something in the way their teams are run. But unless your role as it is defined in the organization or your contract specifies that you have authority over things, you don’t have authority over things.

  11. It’s pretty bad when as Jets fan I can laugh at your organization. I don’t think Watson will play there again, he’s gone, just a matter of where.

  12. Watson should sit until he is traded. Its obvious that this organization is clueless and cares nothing about its players and esp its future gold jacket wearer!!!!!

  13. As a small business with several managers, we want the input of the management team that carries out the day-to-day operations.
    That’s good business and good team building, lets those involved have a voice in our direction.
    If we were to ask for input and then disregard our management teams input like the Texans have done to Watson, I’m sure we would lose key people.
    Who would want to work for a company that is disconnected from their front line team, aka those that are generating the revenue.

  14. jimjets says:

    It’s pretty bad when as Jets fan I can laugh at your organization. I don’t think Watson will play there again, he’s gone, just a matter of where.
    ———————
    Slow your roll there Jets guy – The Texans have won their division in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019. They are a well run organization and make the playoffs more than they miss them. Im sorry but there is no one in the league that the Jets can laugh at.

  15. bengal4573 says: “If they didn’t wanna give Watson input they shouldn’t have promised it. I dont blame Watson id be upset if my boss lied to me too. Why should he work for someone he can’t trust?”
    ——————-

    It’s in the article. The guy who made the promise was fired (O’Brien).

  16. It’s not just Watson, or the other players for that matter. Their head of PR got canned – seems she tweeted support for the female Dem VP after the election (she’s suing, BTW). She was instrumental in Watt’s fund raising drive after Hurricane Harvey. Watt was already unhappy, this surely was the last straw. And the team President just quit, apparently because his recommendations for GM were ignored. Not to mention the way things went with O’Brien.
    Maybe this culture war will ultimately produce winning football, but at this point it looks more like a NFL version of a Game of Thrones episode.
    If I were a player serious about winning and my career, I’d get out ASAP.

  17. Is he so mad that he still cashes the checks he receives from the Texans? Grow up, you’re a player. Not a coach, not a gm, not an owner.

  18. Football is a team sport. That includes the owner, management, coaches, and players. It’s hard to have just one and not the others. You need your team on the same page from the owner on down. I have been in management consultant for many years. One of my jobs was to bring harmony to an organization. Clearly this wasn’t happening in Houston. It appears to be more of a power struggle than a team of professionals. This power struggle, even if it’s just one individual, if it allowed to continue, it will continue to erode any organization. You need trust in your organization from the owner on down including the players. It’s not happening for the Houston Texans.

  19. Headline – Texans Trade Watson to Jets – Net (4) 1st’s (4) 2nd’s

    Texans trade Watson to Jets and get (2) 2021 1st’s, (1)2021 2nd, (1) 2022 1st, (1) 2022 2nd, + Sam Darnold.

    Texans then trade Darnold to QB needy team, think Denver, SF, Washington, Chicago, Patriots, Saints, for (1) 2021 1st, (1) 2021 2nd, and (1) 2022 2nd.

    The Texans net (4) 1sts + (4) 2nd’s and draft Zach Wilson with the #2 overall pick and rebuild with the rest of the picks and free agency!

  20. I have no respect for people or players who don’t honor a handshake or a signed contract. A man’s word is his bond. Watson knew it was a snake when he picked it up.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.