It's probably one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in my life on a personal level, but that's the position that I was put in, and ultimately, the McNairs have bestowed upon me the authority to do what I feel is best for the Houston Texans organization. Houston Texans General Manager Nick Caserio
General Manager Nick Caserio met with media Friday morning for his end-of-season press conference. For nearly 30 minutes, Caserio answered questions and gave his thoughts on a variety of topics just one day after Head Coach David Culley and Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly were officially relieved of their duties.
Here are some of the notes and quotes from Friday's press conference:
Caserio began with a statement thanking Culley for his leadership over "a challenging year, but a productive year."
"When I took over, I'd say, you know, the organization was in a pretty rough spot and I think for where we were then to where we are now, we're in a lot better position. Quite frankly, I think that's because of the leadership and the guidance and the direction that David Culley provided this football team."
The two met in-person on Thursday when Caserio informed Culley, the fourth coach in franchise history, that the team would be moving in a different direction. Caserio said it was the toughest decision of his career.
"I think philosophically there was some things in the end that maybe we saw a little bit differently, so that was really the impetus for the decision that was made yesterday."
Caserio elaborated that the philosophical differences were more about next steps and moving forward, "not necessarily rearview mirror about what has happened."
The search for a new head coach begins, and there is no timetable in place for the hiring process, according to Caserio.
The Texans will also be moving on from Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly, who arrived in 2014 as part of Bill O'Brien's staff. Caserio said he had a lot of respect for Kelly and what he was able to do, but ultimately, it was about production.
"Offensively, you know, we did some good things. When you look at some of the things that, you know, Davis (Mills) was able to do and I would say the production of the quarterback is a reflection of the coaches that put him in a position to be successful. So again, I think just there are some areas just, quite frankly, that we need to improve and we need to get better."
As far as defense goes, Caserio said progress was made but the Texans would take it "one day at a time" as it pertained to the status of Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith and his future with a new coaching staff in Houston.
"I have a lot of respect and appreciation for what Lovie did this season. You know, there's things defensively we can certainly do better, but the ability to take the ball away, we played better in the red area as the year went on. So again, I think we're going to have to kind of take that one day at a time and kind of see where we end up on a coaching front."
Caserio was also asked about his role with the next head coach. On gamedays, Caserio was in the press box talking to the coaches on the headset, a role that he held for 18 of his 20 years in New England.
"I think those discussions will be very organic, and I would say my philosophy has always been to serve and do the right thing by the people involved. So whatever that entails, if it entails doing something else, if it entails doing something less because that's the best thing for the organization, then I'm more than willing to do that. I think that's been my philosophy and attitude and track record over the course of my career. You know, if you were to talk to anybody in New England, hopefully they would tell you the same thing."
Caserio confirms that the Deshaun Watson situation has no additional clarification than it had a year ago. Watson asked for a trade one year ago and is currently still amid his legal issues.
However, the Texans do have their first and second-round picks of the 2022 NFL Draft, unlike last year. Caserio appeared open to trading the Texans No. 3 overall pick. Overall, Caserio feels the Texans are in a better position heading into this offseason than when he was hired a year ago.
"Our situation right now is a lot better than it was," Caserio said. "I would say when we sat here last year from an asset allocation, from a salary cap structure, from resources or players in the building to external opportunities that might be available for us in free agency to, right now, we have the third overall pick or whatever that is. Whether or not we stay at three, that's a whole separate discussion, but we'll talk about the draft a little bit later.
"I think there's some pretty good things that are in place. Again, there's a lot of work to do."