Jacques Cesaire has never been a Texan, and he has never coached with Lovie Smith, but Cesaire's connected to both.
The new defensive line coach has been hard at work, along with the rest of the staff, getting to know the personnel for the 2022 campaign. The offseason conditioning program begins in mid-April, and that will be the first time most of the team is together.
Cesaire has met individually with several players up front, including defensive linemen Jon Greenard and Roy Lopez. Smith joked that Cesaire, who spent the past two seasons as a Bills assistant, is a "close cousin" in football coaching terms.
"He has been through the system," Smith said. "The defensive line coach in Buffalo, Eric Washington, was on my staff in Chicago. Eric was with Rod Marinelli, probably the guru of defensive line play. Jacques has been in that system entire time. So, when I interviewed him, it was easy. We spoke the same language right away."
But Cesaire's connection with the Texans started before that. Houston's 2005 first round selection Travis Johnson was dealt to the San Diego Chargers in 2009. When he arrived that August, he quickly became friends with Cesaire, who was starting his seventh season with the Bolts.
Johnson's thrilled for his close friend, and not the least bit surprised Cesaire's succeeded as a coach. He predicts a rapid coaching ranks rise for Cesaire in the coming years.
"Jacques is a guy who will embrace you and love you and coach you hard," Johnson said.
Cesaire, according to Johnson, came up with a different way to categorize the 'individual' work teams go through routinely in practice. The Texans assistant refers to it as 'skills development' rather than 'individual' work.
"'We're developing skills to make you the best defensive lineman you can be,'" Johnson said of Cesaire's explanation. "When he broke it down to me, there was just so much passion and so much thought to call it 'skill development.'"
Cesaire and the Texans get to start developing their skills when offseason work begins at NRG Stadium next month.