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  • In his 17 months as the Houston GM, Gaine had the winning record and the playoff appearance, but he didn’t have the right people on his side.
By Conor Orr
June 07, 2019

Here’s the latest situation that proves why nothing, outside of winning, really matters in the NFL besides convincing the right people that you know what you’re doing and gaining their support.

In a late-Friday-in-June news dump, Brian Gaine was fired as the Texans’ general manager because, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he simply wasn’t good enough. It took Houston until this point in the offseason to make this determination, insisting that no one moment led to this change.

Just like the Jets’ firing of Mike Maccagnan after the draft and a free agency spending spree, it’s all about the person who can walk into the owner’s office and say ‘I alone can fix this.’ It’s how most of our businesses and day jobs work—and it’s how your favorite NFL team works. If the team owner or acting president or de facto leader isn’t answering your phone calls or asking your advice about the direction of the team, you should probably polish up your LinkedIn profile, before the guy across the hall makes it a foregone conclusion.

Gaine, who was hired January 2018 and inked a five-year contract, inherited a roster so bad that the Texans were forking over draft picks just to get rid of their worst players. He made moves early in free agency last year, notably helping Houston land Tyrann Mathieu (now with the Chiefs) on an affordable deal. And the team finished first in the AFC South and made the playoffs as a three-seed in 2018.

Gaine attacked the Texans’ biggest need in the draft this year, picking tackles with the team’s first and third picks—and everyone in the building appeared to be excited. He now won’t get the chance to see how this plays out. Somewhere between then and now, with just a handful of consequence-less practices as evidence, it turns out whatever Gaine did wasn’t good enough.

We’ll get more dirt on the firing in the days and weeks to come, but Gaine should be able to deflect any criticism that comes his way. People in the business always mention how hard it is to get a second shot in the GM chair, but Gaine could counter by saying: Whose fault is it that we couldn’t protect Deshaun Watson in my only season here—the guy who had no first-round or second-round pick in his first year on the job, or the guy who kept calling designed runs for a quarterback already taking a beating?  

The team let someone go who didn’t deserve to be fired that way—like a person doing a bad job and not a person who didn’t even have the time and opportunity to build a foundation—seemingly because another person who should be taking equal blame for whatever is wrong believed that a change had to happen.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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