Houston Texans General Manager Brian Gaine Has to Show He is Not a "Yes Man" for Bill O'Brien

Patrick D. Starr

After a general manager search that turned up only two candidates who were interviewed by the Houston Texans, Brian Gaine was named the third general manager in franchise history on Saturday. Plenty of discussions has already taken place on whether the interview process was an actual search or was Gaine the clear-cut favorite to take over after the Texans learned that Rick Smith was going to step away?

Gaine’s name surfaced almost immediately, receiving praise for how well he works with the Texans coaching staff, particularly Bill O’Brien, and for the respect he has built with staff inside the building. With O’Brien being part of the four-person search committee, it is clear that Gaine has the O’Brien stamp of approval.

“It’s also exciting to partner with and to collaborate with coach (Bill) O’Brien and build a unified vision and a consistent winner the Texans’ fan base and the city of Houston can be proud of,” Gaine said to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “First and foremost, Bill’s passionate about the game of football. He has a great understanding of building the right culture and to create a winning environment.”

“Ultimately, we want to position ourselves to consistently compete for championships,” Gaine continued.

With the appearance that Gaine is the handpicked general manager by O’Brien and owner Bob McNair has bought into what O’Brien is selling, the direction of the organization is now being built on O’Brien’s vision with Gaine there to help find those players he needs.

“Bill O’Brien has been a tremendous leader for us these last four years and we believe in his vision for the team moving forward,” said McNair of O’Brien. “Bill is a terrific teacher that the players respect. We have a lot of trust in him to build a unified, championship culture and we’re thrilled to have him as our head coach into the future.”

So with so much put into O’Brien’s vision, Gaine probably has the most important position moving forward. The Texans have over $50MM in cap space and they will have at least three third-round selections, with at least a total of eight to nine draft picks due to compensatory selections, not to mention the franchise has a cornerstone in quarterback DeShaun Watson.

McNair has mentioned that Gaine will have full control over personnel and will report to him and Cal McNair on matters with the team. Gaine will also be expected to have conviction with decisions on the personnel side and stand up when he does not think is something is right.

“My guiding principle on building a roster are driven by two factors,” Gaine said. “One, culturally, we’ll have a total commitment to team and a passion for winning. We’ll build a winning process. Two, we’ll be intent on building a smart, tough and disciplined team the city of Houston can be proud of, a team that responds to competition and is passionate about the game.”

Gaine’s most important job is to show is that he is not a ”yes” man for O’Brien. Sure, Gaine will listen to O’Brien and get recommendations on what O'Brien needs to field a competitive roster. Gaine has to show he can stand on his own two feet and be able to function as a general manager for both the short-term and more importantly, the long-term future of the franchise as part of his daily plan.

Gaine steps into a role that will take at least a full season or two of work to see his plan put into action. The important execution issues to watch over the near term for Gaine include player acquisitions, contracts given out, and how he handles the drafts moving forward.

He has a chance to put this organization back on the map and push it in the right direction once again. There will be questions about whether he is good enough or if the previous seven general manager interviews with no offers which he has had over his career are something to worry about. He will have to work with O’Brien but has to show he is strong enough as a general manager to stand on his own two feet.


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