Since the arrival of general manager Nick Caserio, much has been made about his and head coach David Culley's desire to build a sound and sustainable 'culture' for the Houston Texans.
But what exactly does 'culture' mean to them? And at what point does it begin to pay dividends?
Considering that the Texans are currently 1-7 and on a seven-game losing streak with one of the oldest and worst rosters in the NFL, fans cannot be blamed for showing a lack of belief and skepticism in this supposed 'culture' turnaround.
On Wednesday, Caserio took to the podium for a 30-minute press conference and offered a refreshingly candid insight into the state of the franchise. But most interestingly, Caserio discussed exactly what 'culture' means to him.
"I think everybody kind of gets caught up in culture, like what does that exactly mean? I think there are a lot of different definitions of how that’s interpreted," Caserio said.
"Culture’s about habits and about action. It’s about work. That’s what culture’s about. It’s being able to build up a series of habits, a series of actions, and putting those in place so you have something sustainable for a long period of time."
And thankfully, Caserio later went into further detail about specifically what these "habits" and "actions" entail.
"When you go back, I was around guys like Rodney Harrison, (Willie) McGinest and Junior Seau," Caserio said. "Three arguably pretty good, really good players, Hall-of-Fame-ish caliber players. They kind of had a breakfast club, show up 5:30 in the morning in the weight room. Wasn’t required to be there, but they showed up. If a guy was late, they would say, ‘Good afternoon.’ They kind of needled each other to push each other. Or (Junior) Seau going into the weight room at 5:30, and literally playing Mike linebacker and simulating the call and positioning. Is that extreme? It depends on the lens through which you look through it, and your level of commitment and focus. I would say we have a lot of players on this team with those similar habits. I would put Brandin Cooks at the top of the list. We have players that have that level of commitment, and ultimately, if you want to be great and you want to have sustained success, that’s arguably what it’s going to take from however many players you have on your team."
Seeing Cooks included here is no surprise given that the likes of Culley have previously raved about his work ethic both on and off the field even going so far as to compare him to Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.
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However, the biggest takeaway from all of this is that after months of social media speculation, Caserio has been able to provide outsiders with an inside look at precisely what it is they are looking for in their playing staff, and their desired 'culture.'
But of course, as can be seen clear as day now, Rome wasn't built in a day and this implementation of the 'Texans culture' won't happen overnight.
The key, as far as he is concerned, is staying focused and on course. Or, to use a phrase the players tend to use often: 'Trusting the process.'
"There’s no crystal ball, there’s no timetable," Caserio said. "That’s all we can do is stack up the days, put some building blocks in place and try to make a continual improvement on a day-to-day basis. And then, the results will take care of themselves."
Entering Week 8, Caserio is now almost nine months into his tenure as general manager and it's safe to say this organization looks unrecognizable from last season.
Whether that's a good or a bad thing is in the eye of the beholder, but credit where it is due, he is sticking to his guns and has a vision in mind.
"I see a commitment to their plan, and also a commitment to the details of what a team really is built around," safety Justin Reid said when asked in what ways he's seen the franchise's commitment to changing toward a winning culture. "No guy is bigger than the team. We’re willing to do what’s best for the team. You’ve got to show up on time, you’ve got to be responsive, those types of things. I’ve seen a strong commitment to that. And in the long run, that’s going to help build a strong core of players that essentially are always doing the right thing."
And in all fairness, this team needed a huge amount of work from the coaching staff, to the playing staff, to the salary cap after mismanagement from previous regimes.
It would be easy to get bogged down in situations like these where the team isn't performing and yet another heavy rebuild is on the horizon. But again, Caserio knows what he wants and he deserves time and patience.
Maybe, if fans are lucky, five years from now Houston's 'culture club' approach will be the model for success - as Caserio mentioned today, he's only had two losing seasons in 30 years.