"A clean break.'' "A new start.'' "A fresh beginning.''
Welcome to the Houston Texans, Nick Caserio, where your very first assignment - before you memorize Cal McNair's phone number and before you host Deshaun Watson at dinner and before you ask Bill Belichick how to build a roster devoid of draft picks - involves Jack Easterby.
Caserio, the fourth GM in team history, has a chance to separate himself from the third GM in team history by firing the GM who was "interim'' so he doesn't count.
Yes, if Nick Caserio wishes to have any credibility with the stockholders (fans) who care about their beloved Texans, he should separate himself from the person who represents the opposite of "clean'' and "new'' and "fresh.''
Problem: How does Caserio fired the guy who just hired him?
Ah, The Spider Web. Chairman Cal McNair had his "committee'' and his "search firm'' and his advisors, but most of all he had Easterby ... who is represented by agent Bob Lamonte ... who represents Caserio.
That doesn't make Caserio a bad hire. Yes, the Houston fan base is tired of trying to do things "The Patriot Way'' - blame Bill O'Brien for that - but be honest: If the Texans could truly emulate Belichick's Patriots, wouldn't it be glorious?
Caserio, 45, spent 20 years in New England, learning his craft from arguably the best boss man in NFL history, Belichick. Caserio was a coach and then the director of player personnel, which in recent years made him New England's de facto GM.
The public will like Caserio as soon as Houston wins its fifth game - something that never happened in 2020.
The public will not like the details of how this went down, with Easterby ever-so-delicately pulling the strings (fronting LaMonte, who owns the strings).
Yes, McNair flew to New England to pick up Caserio and to bring him to Houston for the deal-closing interview.
And yes, Easterby - who apparently now gets the title "executive vice president of football operations'' - was on the flight as well.
And no, he wasn't just in charge of providing the tiny bags of peanuts.
Caserio and Easterby are pals. Caserio and Easterby and LaMonte are pals. Everybody's pals! But now that he's truly in charge of something, Caserio is obliged to ask himself: Is my naming Easterby the "executive vice president of football operations'' about competence or about cronyism?
Even the great Belichick, an Easterby supporter, doesn't pretend Jack's "a football guy.''
So what is he?
Jack Easterby, God bless him, is a drag on the reputation of the Houston Texans. That doesn't make him a "snake'' or a "devil.'' Just a "drag.''
A national media outlet recently tried to downplay Jack's influence here, but frankly, the transparent trick backfired in the sense that it was blatantly obvious that the "Jack's harmless'' angle was dictated to the media by ...
Because he wanted to appear harmless.
As any spider in any web would want.
Now it's time to move. Caserio should flash his six Super Bowl rings at the best candidate - not the best candidate who is pals with LaMonte and Easterby, but The Best Candidate - and hire him.
Here's betting it won't work that way. The next head coach of the Houston Texans will be chosen, at least in part, based on the recommendation of Jack Easterby ... and that's in conflict with the "fresh start'' statement the Houston Texans should be making.
Jack Easterby should not be involved in a hiring.
Jack Easterby should be involved in a firing.
Unless, that is, Nick Caserio isn't really in charge of the Houston Texans.