HOUSTON – The Texans reported for mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, but the team's focus was on anything but on-field activities.
The media didn't hold back when it came to asking head coach Bill O’Brien the tough questions about Friday’s announcement that the team was relieving general manager Brian Gaine of his duties.
O’Brien opened with this statement: "I'm sure there's a lot of questions relative to the organization, so if you'll allow me to just start with a brief statement. Cal McNair said it all in his statement the other day. He did a thorough evaluation of the football operation. I'm not saying that he did it by himself, but he did a thorough evaluation of the football operation, and that included me. He was very clear with me on what we needed to do to continue to grow as an organization, as a football team.”
Throughout the press conference, O’Brien alluded to McNair’s vision for the organization but it was unclear exactly what that was.
“He's been perfectly clear with the whole organization on what his expectations are moving forward. With that being said, I'm not going to really get into any more details relative to that. Obviously, no conversations with Cal. I'm not going to talk about any of those things, but I definitely will entertain any questions that anybody has," O'Brien said.
One question for O’Brien was how the move affects Jadeveon Clowney’s contract situation. Clowney, who was franchise tagged, was not at mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
The Texans have until July 15 to sign Clowney to a deal longer than one year.
"As you know, he’s been franchised and he's not here today. It is what it is. The situation is what it is," O’Brien said.
O’Brien said Texans fans should feel hopeful about the future of the organization and the direction in which it’s headed.
“We feel like we’ve definitely improved and we’re excited about the future. We’re excited about training camp and we are excited about next season,” he said.
Wednesday is the team’s final practice before training camp begins in late July.
Here are the rest of O'Brien's questions and responses, as provided by the Houston Texans:
How would you characterize what Executive Vice President of Team Development Jack Easterby does and his role in finding the new general manager?
"Jack is just what his title says. He is executive vice president of team development and he helps in all areas of the team. He helps me with the team. He helps in the different departments around the team, the departments that work with the team, obviously the training room, equipment room. He helps me with putting in processes to really help the duties of each department relative to the team. It's all about the team and how can we improve the team and Jack has been an excellent addition to the organization."
Did you believe that Brian Gaine needed to be fired for the organization to move forward?
"Again, I'll go with the statement again. I stand by the statement that Cal made. Cal made a statement and he had to make a tough decision. He evaluated everything and he told me exactly what he wanted me to do to improve and to help with his vision of where he sees this organization going, or where it needs to go in his opinion. That's really what it was."
Did you or Executive Vice President of Team Development Jack Easterby have any contact with Patriots Director Of Player Personnel Nick Caserio or his representatives before Brian Gaine was fired?
"I would say that the answer to that is 'no' relative to contact about anything having to do with the Houston Texans. No."
What kind of job do you think you and Brian Gaine did together acquiring players in the last year?
"Again, I think that this football team has improved in areas over the last nine weeks. We've improved. I think the players are working hard. I think in the end it's all about the team and I think with another day or two of this minicamp, we have two other opportunities to improve, and that's what we are going to try to do before we take a break and then we start camp in late July."
What have you learned during this recent process about being an even better communicator with what you want done for this organization?
"I think we always have to try to improve communication. I think face-to-face communication is important and I think that when I look in the mirror I know that I have to improve. Like I've always said, I think it starts with me, and we have to do a better job. We've done some good things over the years, but not enough to be where we want to be, and I think a lot of that has to do with communication relative to everybody in the organization. Really, in the end, it's about the symbol. It's about the Texans. It's about doing what's best for the Texans and making sure that we're all on the same page with that."
Have you talked to Brian Gaine since Friday?
"No, I have not."
What can you say about Brian Gaine as a person, as a football man?
"Man of high character, great family man and good football person."
Does your power in the organization change and why should Texans fans believe you are on the right track?
"I think that all of those things in the first question that you asked are yet to be determined, and I don't look at it that way as far as the word 'power.' That's not anything that I even think about. It's really just trying to do my job as the head coach. My No. 1 job is to coach, so segueing into your second question, what I can tell the fans is that we have a group of guys that are working really hard to get better every single day. We feel like we’ve definitely improved and we’re excited about the future. We’re excited about training camp and we are excited about next season.”
Should the new draft picks think this reflects poorly on them?
"No. This is a team that's worked very, very hard and really improved. Whether they're young or they're in their 15th or 16th year and everybody in between, I can pretty much say that over 95% of this team has improved. I don't think it's ever 100% with a 90-man roster, but it's close. Everybody has improved and (is) working hard to get better.”
When did you realize it wasn't going to work out with Brian Gaine?
"When I was informed by Cal."
You weren't informed before the decision was made?
"No. When I was informed by Cal what his decision was relative to that decision and other decisions moving forward with the organization."
How does this quick turnover thwart your ability as a team to make progress, if at all?
"I think you have a very strong organization. I think you have an organization that works very well together. I think you have some really bright people in this organization that really understand what their jobs are and all of the different jobs that they have in this organization, including the players. So, I think you have a group of people that reflect a very strong organization and everybody is doing their job. Everybody is moving forward and everybody is able to adapt and adjust and understand what we all have to do to get better."
Does this affect DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney's situation with the franchise tag?
"No. As you know, he’s been franchised and he's not here today. It is what it is. The situation is what it is."
How good does it feel to have a plethora of wide receivers in camp?
"We do. We have a good group of wide receivers that are working hard. We've got Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) and Will Fuller (V) that are doing what they need to do to be ready for training camp. I think Keke Coutee has had an excellent spring, and we have a group of young receivers that are working hard and getting better every day. So, I feel really good about, as we sit here today, where that position is at."
Do you believe you're a person that's easy to work with?
"I guess that would depend on who you ask. That would really depend on who you ask. I think that I try to do my best to communicate with people. I try to do my best to work hard every day to perform my role, but I think anytime you're in a leadership position there's probably going to be a few people that don't agree with how you see things or how you do things. You do your best to try to perform your role at the highest level for the organization. That's what I'm trying to do."