New England Patriots boss Bill Belichick had the opportunity on Monday - as his team plays the Houston Texans this week - so issue all sorts of flattering remarks at the Texans.
The iconic coach instead, when it came to his former associate Jack Easterby, who has ascended to the position of Houston interim general manager, was half-flattering.
"He was a very valuable person for this organization in the time he was here,'' said Belichick of Easterby, a former Patriots staffer.
But then Belichick was asked on a Houston media conference call about Easterby's qualifications on the football side.
“Jack,'' Belichick said, "is not a personnel person, no.”
Easterby had the Patriots role of "character coach'' back in 2013, and became an associate of Bill O’Brien, who would become the Texans GM and coach. This season, when O'Brien was dismissed, Easterby suddenly vaulted from his role as "executive vice president of football operations'' to "interim GM.''
That meant Easterby, along with interim coach Romeo Crennel, supervised the Texans' dealings during the recent NFL trade deadline. And it's also meant stories of Easterby possibly retaining the GM job even after chairman Cal McNair completes his search ... a concept that makes little sense to intense Texans watchers.
And maybe makes little sense to Belichick as well.
“Jack did a great job for us,” Belichick said. “His role was a varied one. He worked with a lot of different aspects of the organization - players, coaches, support people, so forth. He was a person who could connect well with everybody, from the owner of the team to the equipment manager that picks up towels, and all of the people in between. So he was a very valuable person for this organization in the time he was here.''
There is no sense here that Belichick is trying to sabotage Easterby's ambitions; the Patriots boss seemed to simply be speaking matter-of-factly. There are surely strengths that Easterby possesses ... but from the trade of DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona (which O’Brien and Easterby reportedly conducted together) to the 2-7 record on down, there is no evidence that Houston's search for a GM should only extend down the hallway.