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INDIANAPOLIS — The Houston Texans are the NFL’s least successful team the past two seasons, which is to say they’ve lost more than anybody.
They’ve lost 26 of 34 games and have fired two head coaches as a result. So bad times all around.
And the reason is the Texans simply haven’t found a quarterback who could compete in the AFC South much less the entire league. It’s the primary reason the Texans have scored an NFL-leading 41 fewer touchdowns than their opponents the past two years.
These guys need Bryce Young. Or C.J. Stroud.
Texans Don’t Think One Player Can Make A Difference
But Texans general manager Nick Caserio, who has presided over the roster the past two seasons, has made the point multiple times this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that the quarterback position is not the end-all, be-all fix for Houston.
It’s a piece. And not a gigantic one, if you believe Caserio.
“I think it’s how we build the best team,” Caserio said. “That’s what the focus is. Everybody wants to make it about one position, about one player. We’ve never done that, I’ve never done that.
“So try to build a good team. Try to find players that you think fit what you’re trying to do. And, again, it requires all 11 people going out there and performing.
“Offensive football is not about one person. That person is certainly a part of it. But all 11 players doing their job is as important as anything else.”
All 11 players are clearly not all equally important. All 11 players do not touch the ball every play.
Texans QB Philosophy Comes From Patriots
A tight end could go out on a route, drop to the turf and take a nap, and if the quarterback throws accurately over the top of the defense to an open receiver, it’s a touchdown.
A guard can blow a block, but if the quarterback slides in the pocket or scrambles out danger, he can still complete a pass.
The quarterback is the thing. Everyone knows this.
The problem is Caserio won’t admit this publicly and probably really believes what he’s saying privately because he follows a misguided New England Patriots philosophy that believes the quarterback is just 1/11th of the offense.
It’s not clear whether Bill Belichick authored this outlook or he got it from Bill Parcells. But for years while the Patriots were enjoying the work of Tom Brady on their roster, Belichick would refer to Brady just like any other high performance player.
Very Good player. Happy to have him. But also happy to have all our other players.
Tom Brady WAS The Patriots Dynasty
That’s the Belichick approach and it aged poorly toward the end of Brady’s time in New England and afterward.
In 2018 Brady was asked by his friend and future podcast host Jim Gray if he felt appreciated for all he’d achieved and done on behalf of the Belichick and owner Robert Kraft and the Patriots.
“I plead the fifth,” Brady answered. “… The people that I work with are trying to get the best out of me. So, they’re trying to treat me in a way that they feel is gonna get the best out of me.”
This is laughable in hindsight considering what Belichick and the Patriots have been since the greatest quarterback of all time left.
Belichick’s record without Tom Brady is 79-87.
In the three seasons after Brady left New England, the Patriots managed a 25-25 record but were under .500 twice and failed to qualify for the playoffs twice.
Brady joined a Tampa Bay team that was 7-9 the previous year and won a Super Bowl in 2020 and made the playoffs all three years.
It’s definitely about the quarterback.
The point is the Patriots philosophy has spread as Belichick’s assistants and front office people, such as Caserio, got jobs across the league — many buoyed by the success Brady brought to New England.
Brian Flores never seemed comfortable speaking mostly about he quarterback, but instead grouped them into conversations about the entire team. Matt Patricia left Matthew Stafford “drained” former Lions offensive lineman T.J. Lang said after Patricia was fired in Detroit.
And despite all this, Caserio repeats stuff that doesn’t sound like it’s just for media consumption but rather he actually believes. One of those is the idea he’s not worried other teams might vault past the Texans, who have the No. 2 overall pick, to get the draft’s first pick and select the highest-rated quarterback in the draft.
DeMeco Ryans Must Save Texans From Selves
“We’re not necessarily worried about what other teams around us are doing,” Caserio said. “You’re cognizant of that, but ultimately you have to be prepared to pick wherever you’re going to pick. Then, be prepared to pick whatever player.
“If a team is in front of you and you’re only talking about one player, then it’s going to leave two to three other players. So, you’re either comfortable with that group of players or you’re not. Again, you can’t really get too caught up in what other teams are doing. You just try to make decisions that you feel are best for your team and your situation.”
The Texans are doomed.
Their only hope is that new coach DeMeco Ryans steps in and gives Caserio a reality adjustment about quarterbacks. Because the new coach has seen what a difference a quarterback can make.
“2017, it was a rough year there,” Ryan said recalling the season he was the 49ers quality control coach on defense. “We started I think 0-9 that year. You saw when we acquired Jimmy (Garoppolo) and towards the end of the year you saw the quarterback came in and we won five-straight games to end the season because we added a very talented guy at the quarterback position.
“It just teaches you that when you do have a bona fide quarterback, it helps you win games, helps you be successful.”