“A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he laid down and he died.” — Gregory Lake
The politics have been hot and heavy lately. So, in the interest of taking a bit of a break I decided to comment on the goings on at Reliant Stadium yesterday. The Houston Texans hired their fifth head coach in team history and the whole process has been rife with hilarity.
Every golfer has had moments where the results of the shot didn’t match the process that went into playing it. You duck hook a ball into the woods and it hits a tree and bounces back in the fairway. You come up to peek off of a shot, you skull it and it five hops the lake and somehow winds up on the green. You ram a putt way too hard and it magically hits the hole and prevents the chip coming back.
The key for every golfer is taking those shots in their proper context. If you look at it as the isolated good fortune that occurs during a round then you are probably in good shape. After all, most golfers have just as many shots that they felt were good, but turned out to be disastrous. In the grand scheme of things these shots end up evening themselves out.
What you don’t do is take the positive result and assume there is any way to possibly repeat it. The Texans somehow landed on Lovie Smith. He wasn’t the best candidate. Hell, he wasn’t even a candidate. Yet, when all things are considered he surely beat the lonely trek into the woods to look for your errant drive.
Analysis of situations like this demand that we separate who the process landed on from the nature of the process itself. In other words, Lovie Smith should be judged on his own merits and set aside from the stupidity of the process. The ball is sitting in the fairway. For now, let’s forget the snap hook that brought us here. We will get to that later.
It is impossible not to look at Smith in comparison to the year we just had. David Culley wasn’t allowed to hire his own assistants. The defense wasn’t his. The offense wasn’t his. Offensive coaches were just kind of thrown together with reckless abandon. The team didn’t have an identity other than the very basics of don’t turn the ball over and if we have to go three and out, we’re good.
Smith’s team will have an identity. He picked his assistants and each one makes sense in the framework of that identity. When you watch the Texans next season you will know it is Lovie Smith’s team. Given where this team has been that feels like great news. If it were 1985 it would be even better. The idea of being a physical team with a physical running game is better than being aimless. It isn’t much better though.
During the press conference, someone pulled the fire alarm. That exact moment seemed to be a perfect backdrop for the process. No one is really quite sure who is in charge. No one is really quite sure how much input certain people have. There were three finalists as of last Friday. Somehow none of those finalists got the job.
I could go into specifics, but what’s the point really? On some level, this has always been true of the Texans going back to the Rick Smith days. When things go south, they turn inward and leave outsiders to guess who is responsible. Things seem to go south frequently. Two consecutive hiring cycles have gone by with pundits suggesting the Texans picked a guy out of left field and had the worst hiring of the cycle. Smith likely won’t end up being the worst coach of the lot. He’s sufficiently mediocre.
Mediocre feels like a win. It feels like a win when one of the choices had never been a coach before. No one knows how dangerously close the Texans came to making that hire. Perhaps a lawsuit was the only thing that forced that to happen. The Texans snap hooked it into the forest and somehow the ball bounced back in the fairway. This isn’t a winning strategy. It’s just a lucky one.