Alan Burge summed up a lot of Texans fans’ feelings nicely on GM Rick Smith’s eyebrow-raising “this is my first exposure to a 3-4 defense” comments. Equally as alarming was a quote in the same interview that went a little something like this:
“So I’ve spent hours in the room with Wade, talking to him, watching tape with him, getting a sense of what it is that he looks for and how he wants to coach it so that we can educate our scouts, and I do think that we’ve got some players who can be productive in this system.” -Texans General Manager Rick Smith
So… not only is Rick Smith not at all versed in making personnel decisions for a 3-4 defense, but the scouts need to be educated too? For an organization that has said publicly they expect this defense to turnaround quickly and be vastly improved in one year, that doesn’t seem like the best way of moving forward.
If your GM hasn’t done well picking players for the system he IS familiar with and he is unfamiliar with your new system going forward – you should probably take a good, hard look at hiring a new GM. If your scouts “need to be educated” on the 3-4 defense, you should probably take a good, hard look at hiring new (or additional) scouts. That may not be the “nice” thing to do, but on the surface it certainly sounds like the smart/right thing to do.
The Texans are stuck. Just a year ago they were considered one of the top and most-talented young teams in the NFL. Of course, those lists are made based on potential, and not necessarily results. Now they are just another franchise searching for an identity both as a football team and an organization.
Bob McNair’s faith in Smith and Gary Kubiak certainly appears to be unshakable, but when the Texans evaluate defensive talent for this draft and set their draft board up, who’s going to have the final say? If Smith and the scouts are learning on the fly when it comes to matters of the 3-4, then clearly Wade Phillips is going to play a huge role in the defensive talent evaluation. I don’t know how much pull Phillips has had in personnel decisions prior to joining the Texans, but it stands to reason that if a team wants to pull off a one-offseason turnaround – they need to go out and get the personnel guys who can make that happen.
The idea that an NFL team can’t dramatically improve in one offseason has kind of been exposed as a myth in the last few years. The Texans are in an especially difficult position considering how the looming lockout could potentially cut a lot of on-field learning time out of the NFL offseason calendar. In other words – the Texans can’t mess around. They need to go out and get the players they need to make this thing work – but you can’t do that unless you have the right talent evaluators in place.
“Educating the scouts” seems like something that should take some time… much more time than the current Texans regime should have available to them at this point in their reign of mediocrity.