Everyone knows that the New England Patriots have been the epitome of greatness in the NFL over the past 20 years. Nine Super Bowl appearances, six Super Bowl wins, 16 division titles — every team would love to be able to replicate New England’s success.
There might not be a team trying to do that more than the Houston Texans.
The Patriots’ influence is heavily felt throughout the Texans’ organization. Their head coach and offensive playcaller Bill O’Brien used to be New England’s offensive coordinator. Romeo Crennel, their defensive coordinator, held the same title with the Patriots. Even their special teams coach Brad Seely had the same job in New England.
Houston tried to complete its barbershop quarter of former Patriots staffers by making Nick Caserio, New England’s director of player personnel, its new general manager. However, the Patriots filed tampering charges against them in the process.
Like every other team that’s tried to copy the Patriots’ method, the Texans keep falling short.
Houston hasn’t had any success against New England since 2014
The Texans haven’t been incompetent since hiring O’Brien as their head coach in 2014. They have a 42-38 record, a playoff win (albeit against Connor Cook), and only one losing season.
But Houston hasn’t been able to do anything against the team it’s been trying to mimic.
Including the playoffs, O’Brien’s Texans are 0-5 against the Patriots. The average score of those games has been 30.2 to 15 in favor of New England. In its first three games against the Patriots, Houston only managed to score one touchdown — losing those games by an average score of 29.3 to 7.3.
The Texans have had more success scoring since Deshaun Watson was drafted in 2017, but they’re still 0-2 against the Patriots with him at quarterback. The closest they got to winning was a 36-33 loss during Watson’s rookie year. Houston had the lead late, but O’Brien got too scared to go for it on a fourth-and-1, giving Tom Brady all the time he needed to throw a game-winning touchdown.
While that 0-5 mark against New England is spectacularly bad, the Texans’ most embarrassing defeat to the Patriots came off the field.
Houston, you have a general manager problem
Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine was recently fired after holding his position for roughly a year and a half. Gaine didn’t have much of a chance to make his imprint on the organization, but no one really protested his firing. Even though everyone and their mama knew that the Texans’ offensive line was an issue for two offseasons in a row — they gave up 62 sacks in 2018 — Gaine didn’t do much of anything to fix it.
What makes the Gaine firing interesting is the timing of it. Gaine was let go one day after the Patriots’ Super Bowl 53 ring ceremony, which was attended by the Texans’ new executive vice president, Jack Easterby — another former member of the Patriots front office.
Easterby was at the ring ceremony with Caserio on June 6 and, amazingly, Gaine was fired on June 7. Houston officially asked to interview Caserio on June 11.
Jack Easterby, now a VP for the Texans, was at the Pats’ ring ceremony. The next day, Gaine was fired. That’s the connection the Pats might be making here. https://t.co/z7iUvQXdCb— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 12, 2019
Isn’t that all just an incredible coincidence?
New England didn’t see it that way and quickly filed tampering charges against the Texans. Considering their own history with tampering, the Patriots seemed to have a pretty clear idea of what it looks like. But even Houston’s cheating can’t compare to the Patriots’ — at least New England got accused of tampering for Darrelle Revis!
What’s the next step for the Texans?
Houston decided to withdraw their request to interview Caserio and the Patriots dropped their tampering charges. “Tampering” in this instance was trying to get Caserio to join the Texans at the risk of disrupting his employment with the Patriots. The Texans won’t be able to hire Caserio to fully rebrand themselves as the Houston Patriots.
It’s been reported that Caserio wants to become the general manager of the Texans, but he’s still under contract for another year. Right now, the closest they can get is O’Brien answering questions with non-answers like Bill Belichick.
The Texans will have yet another chance to grab their first win against New England in the Bill O’Brien era in Week 13 this year, but it still doesn’t feel like they’re ready to take down the Patriots. They still have gigantic holes on offensive line and rebuilt their entire secondary in one offseason. Houston isn’t even a sure bet to repeat as the top dog in the AFC South this year.
Sometimes, the apple does fall far from the tree.