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Old 06-21-2011   #1
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Default [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

It's long, but very informative. Thanks, LZ.

http://blog.chron.com/fantasyfootbal...or-rick-smith/

To me, it should be a forgone conclusion that the Bob McNair will empty out the front office and the coaching staff if the Texans have yet another disappointing season, but McNair is maybe the most patient owner in sports history so maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to make that assumption.

If the Texans do fail and Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith are both fired, I know for a fact that there are teams who would love to add Gary Kubiak as an offensive coordinator the first day he is on the market. Would a team hire Kubiak as a head coach? I don’t know that. I do know that he is respected around the league as an offensive mind.

The interesting question would be where would Rick Smith catch on and in what capacity? The worst thing I’ve heard about Kubiak is that “he’s boring”. Rick Smith, on the other hand, has people ready to shots at him in high and low places. I think it is safe to say that Smith’s tenure as general manager of the team is not strong enough to warrant consideration in that capacity for any other team at this time and his interpersonal relationships are not what they need to be according conversations I’ve had over the years with former players and coaches, current players and coaches, agents and a couple of personnel people.

Let me lay all my cards out on the table for you so you know that what I’m writing today doesn’t have an agenda behind it.

I’ve spoken with Rick Smith on a few occasions over the years and we’ve exchanged emails regarding a couple of football-related issues in the past. When I found out how disappointed Aaron Schobel was with how his dealings with the Texans and Rick Smith went, I contacted Rick to get his side of the story and he answered. Am I buddy-buddy with Rick Smith? No. Do I dislike him? No. Rick Smith will tell you right out front that the organization believes in the “once voice” concept and Kubiak is that public voice. While I think that Smith needs to be more accessible to the media so that the fans can hear directly from him, I really don’t care if Smith is difficult to deal with for the media or not – as long as he does his job well.

Voices of Dissension

Last Thursday, Ahman Green called into Sean Pendergast’s show on 1560 The Game to talk about a blog that Sean had written about him (Green) and to talk about his side of the story regarding why his time in Houston went poorly as a free agent. You can listen to the interview here, but Green spoke of some difficult personal issues he was going through at the time that made things tough on him. He also said that he was warned by some former players to keep an eye on Rick Smith as he might not be trust-worthy. The real eye-opener during the interview was that Ahman Green claimed that Rick Smith called him into his office during the 2007 season and asked him directly if he was faking injuries. BAD. MOVE.

Ahman Green was injury-prone… we all knew that when the Texans signed him. Whether any or all of us (including the Texans) were frustrated with Green over his injuries, Rick Smith should have never questioned whether Green was faking them if that is what happened. By even asking, you are raising doubts about the player’s integrity/toughness and Green wasn’t some okie-doke rookie, he was a respected veteran. Players talk and I will guarantee you that Texans from that roster as well as other players around the league heard that story. Granted, this was just one side to the story, but we were about to hear more.

The next morning on the radio, we were discussing Ahman Green’s interview and comments and former Texans’ defensive back Marcus Coleman called into the show to give his opinion of Rick Smith and how the Texans are run. Coleman has no axe to grand with Smith as he was gone from the Texans before Smith came along, but Marcus has spoken with players who have played under Smith and he’s still tight with a few people inside the organization who have given him info over the years. If you’re thinking of trying to discredit Marcus Coleman with some type of “DUI” blast, save it.

I’ve spoken to Marcus at length over the last two years and he’s simply frustrated at what he sees. Coleman came from the Bill Parcells school of building and coaching a team and he played under then defensive coordinator Bill Belichick. As a Houstonian, Marcus shares the same frustration that we all feel while watching this regime operate, but he has the added burden of understanding how things should and could be done differently.

Rick Smith Must Build Bridges

There are two keys to being a good general manager (or team builder in any business) and those keys are respect and communication. I’m not sure that Rick Smith has the respect of the players based on some of the run-ins he’s had with veterans. With contract issues, you can’t make everyone happy but guys like Dunta Robinson and Aaron Schobel seemed to really be frustrated with how things went down and both have hinted that they didn’t think things were dealt with honestly. Once players think a head coach or GM is dishonest, they have a tough time bouncing back from that. Perception becomes reality around the league.

I think Rick Smith was overwhelmed when he was hired as the Texans GM. Hell, who wouldn’t he have been? Smith was a first time general manager and he was working with a first time head coach. Nobody comes in ready at those two positions; you simply sink or swim as the years go on. The best way to “swim” is to build relationships with agents and personnel people around the league and to assemble an intelligent scouting department whose opinions and experience you can utilize when it comes time to evaluate talent.

When agents call, you have to call them back. You can’t leave an agent waiting for a return call no matter what he’s calling about because he may have a free agent or even an undrafted free agent you might covet down the road and it is best to be on good terms with as many agents as possible. When it comes time to land that big free agent, you have to be in position to land the first visit if you want win that battle. When a GM networks around the league properly, he will have a better chance of knowing which players can be had for cheap on the trading block (i.e. safety Chris Harris being dealt from Bears to Panthers for a 5th rounder in 2008), which players are going to be cap casualties and what the general scuttlebutt around the league is.

As for the scouting department, I’ve met and become friends with many scouts from around the league over the last 10 years and I’ve seen just how good many of the scouting departments around the league are. While there are some teams (like the Texans) who believe that the coaches and front office should handle much of the draft evaluation, other teams find it valuable to rely on their experienced scouting departments to handle most of the legwork in terms of evaluation. My feeling is that the more intelligent football minds you surround yourself with, the greater your chances are for success come draft day.

Can Rick Smith Succeed?

Rick Smith can absolutely succeed and I think he’s learned quite a bit on the job over the years. There is a perception around some league circles that Smith is aloof and cocky and Smith should go out of his way to break down this image of him. If he feels like that is a mis-characterization, then prove people wrong. Smith is still young and trying to build a reputation in the league so it wouldn’t hurt to have people around the league like him. The Texans organization has a reputation for being somewhat cliquish, but Smith has intelligence, confidence and the ability to charm when he wants to.

As I stated before, I think Smith needs to really focus on making sure that everyone in that organization – from players to coaches – believe that he has their backs and is working with them to build the best team possible. Whether he realizes it or not, some players on the current roster are unsure in that regard. I also believe that despite the “one voice” approach by the Texans, Smith has an opportunity to become a more prominent voice/face within the Texans organization if he’s willing to open up and become more personable.

Despite what you might think, Gary Kubiak doesn’t make all of the personnel decisions for the Texans. Rick Smith is heavily involved. I hope that Rick Smith eventually reads this and I hope he realizes that it isn’t meant as a slam, but merely an honest critique based on comments I’ve received from others around the league. I have friends who work for other teams around the league and I’ve watched their teams fail and succeed over the years and I’ve learned quite a bit through their failures and success. I want desperately for the Texans to have success and I want Rick Smith to help build a strong, balanced roster.

When it is all said and done, just draft good players, make smart free agent signings, keep your good players under contract and be the GM for a playoff team and we can forget I ever wrote this long, meandering post.
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Old 06-21-2011   #2
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

Quote:
but guys like Dunta Robinson and Aaron Schobel seemed to really be frustrated with how things went down and both have hinted that they didn’t think things were dealt with honestly.
...and I don't think either one of them dealt very honestly with the Texas, where does that leave us?

The Ahman Green thing was originated by his former coach while at the Packers...who just happened to be coaching here. While I don't think his (Rick's) approach was very smooth, it sure didn't come out of nowhere and 'originate' with him.

I've got a great deal of respect for LZ (and lord knows I'm not defending Smith), but this comes across like somebody who's chummy with former players who all have an axe to grind here or there.

Tell you what, let's survey all the NFL players and ask them about their pay. Give 'em three options:

1) I'm Overpaid
2) I'm paid exactly what I'm worth
3) I'm underpaid

....I'm guessing that option #3 will be vastly appealing.
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Old 06-21-2011   #3
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Originally Posted by disaacks3 View Post
...and I don't think either one of them dealt very honestly with the Texas, where does that leave us? The Ahman Green thing was originated by his former coach while at the Packers...who just happened to be coaching here. While I don't think his (Rick's) approach was very smooth, it sure didn't come out of nowhere and 'originate' with him.

I've got a great deal of respect for LZ (and lord knows I'm not defending Smith), but this comes across like somebody who's chummy with former players who all have an axe to grind here or there.

Tell you what, let's survey all the NFL players and ask them about their pay. Give 'em three options:

1) I'm Overpaid
2) I'm paid exactly what I'm worth
3) I'm underpaid

....I'm guessing that option #3 will be vastly appealing.
Since when do players deal honestly with teams? How many players use free agency visits just to establish a base price with no real intention of signing with us? This is a business right? That's what the players preach; I could care less if he is less than honest with them.
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Old 06-21-2011   #4
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

It's a fabulous article! I am a Rick Smith supporter and though I realize he did not earn another year as GM of the Texans, I quickly got behind the decision once it was made. One thing I like about Kubiak and Smith is that I believe they learn and grow from mistakes. If we ever get to the off-season and 2011 season, it is going to be a very enlightening one, I think.
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Old 06-21-2011   #5
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

I judge a GM on the job he does, especially as it pertains to bringing in much needed talent.

And based on last year's "we're going young" with our secondary and the subsequent poor results, I'm not impressed with him at all.

All this behind the scenes speculation is interesting, but ultimately irrelevant to me as a fan. I want positive results, and so far, he and Kubiak have built nothing more than a mediocre team that knows how to lose but cannot seem to win as a team. As a collective front office, they are nothing special at this time.

Maybe this personality conflict stuff is relevant to bringing in or repelling talent from our franchise, but it's still speculation and opinion right now.

Hopefully he can acquire the talent that Wade needs to build a solid defense, and then we can re-evaluate the results after a season (or two, since they will probably be here through 2012).
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Old 06-21-2011   #6
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

I'm with DB...

Doesn't really matter what has happened behind the curtains....

If the play sucks, then the play sucks...

Rick Smith Could be the most anti-social, awkward, people repelling GM in the league, but none of that would matter if he was winning. In fact people would try to turn that into the reason he was so great.

Look at Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. Two guys who were almost polar opposites when it came to dealing with their players and people in their organization around them.

Kubiak is the same way. If he was winning people would probably look at his "aw shucks" attitude and think it was cute or something....

But becauase he's been the coach of a losing franchise he just looks like a big ol' dummy.
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Old 06-21-2011   #7
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

I don't blame the Texans or Rick Smith on what happened with Schobel. From all the reports I read, it seemed like Schobel was out of shape and didn't have the drive to play a full season really. The Texans did have talks with him, but when it never happened I wasn't surprised. The guy just didn't seem to have his heart in it anymore and had we signed him we probably would have vastly over paid for his services.
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Old 06-21-2011   #8
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

Really liked what rey posted earlier in this thread.

When you're winning as a GM or HC, people have a lot more tolerance.

This goes back to what I said in the Ahman Green thread: When you're the league's doormat for so long, you're gonna' get people like Green/Carr/Robinson who see an opportunity to boost themselves by blasting their former team.

It's like punching a blind man and acting like you're tough.

I don't think there's as much of a problem with the HC and GM as there is with how I think (key word here is "think") the OWNER wants his HC and GM to do their jobs.

I think McNair has conditioned everyone in the FO to never approach Casserly levels ever again, to the point of over-correcting and going too far the other way. Rick Smith unfortunately is just playing the game like he knows his boss wants him to. Add Gary's name to that list, too.

They're all guilty, but the chief enabler is McNair. He makes everything go.

EDIT: The Casserly era was marked by lots of free agents (mostly aging vets like Payne and Walker and Coleman and Glenn etc.) and more aging vets (Todd Wade, for example). The Rick Smith era is marked by mostly building through the draft and only a handful of free agents who serve as depth and fringe-type contributors. IMO, McNair tried one way and now he's trying another. Maybe the next era will see McNair with a Fox News mindset: Fair & Balanced.
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Old 06-21-2011   #9
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

I'll admit. I'm stunned by the spin I'm seeing in these threads. Recruiting is a big part of free agency. Players talk. As I said in the last thread this isn't the first time I've heard the guy is a know it all, world class prick. It has been said in many circles for years and LZ alluded to it. Yeah it makes it better if he is a prick but winning but there is a difference in being a Jimmy Johnson type ball buster where players want to play for you and being a losing team that has a GM that is standoffish and is known as not being totally honest. As a player why would you want to throw your hat into that ring if you don't trust the people in the organization. The fact that this is a topic a year or more after this guy should have been fired shows you why this organization hasn't been on the right track. Alot of players leave their teams over disputes. You don't see many of them going off on the people running the teams.
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Old 06-21-2011   #10
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Originally Posted by HoustonFrog View Post
As a player why would you want to throw your hat into that ring if you don't trust the people in the organization.
Because they win and they pay you well.

People go into deals all the time where the reward outweigh the potential risks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoustonFrog View Post
Alot of players leave their teams over disputes. You don't see many of them going off on the people running the teams.
If the team is a winning team, why would they go off on that organization. They'd just look like fools.

I can assure you that there have been plenty of players from losing teams that leave and badmouth the organization. We probably just don't hear about them all just as I'm sure there are many fans from other teams who have not heard anything about this shit.
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Old 06-21-2011   #11
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Because they win and they pay you well.
Sure, that is an easy answer. But that then begs the question of "how do you get to that winner status?" So if you are recruiting FAs and one choice is a young organization with a good fan base and great perks but their GM is a dbag who you are iffy about and the other team is close in everything else but their GM is known around circles as a guy who has it together and who is doing the right stuff, who do you go with?That is what people are missing. There is no reason for Smith to be Smith until he wins so saying winning cures all sounds great unless the people you have are preventing that.
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Old 06-21-2011   #12
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Originally Posted by HoustonFrog View Post
Sure, that is an easy answer. But that then begs the question of "how do you get to that winner status?" So if you are recruiting FAs and one choice is a young organization with a good fan base and great perks but their GM is a dbag who you are iffy about and the other team is close in everything else but their GM is known around circles as a guy who has it together and who is doing the right stuff, who do you go with?That is what people are missing. There is no reason for Smith to be Smith until he wins so saying winning cures all sounds great unless the people you have are preventing that.
What "circles"? We have reports from how many top-tier believable guys here?

Schoebel? (everybody is convinced he wasn't ready to get into playing shape)

Robinson? (wah, wah, I had to play for 9 million..nuff said)

Green? (His old coach thought he was tanking it)

Coleman? (A guy who NEVER, EVER interacted with Smith)

The most believable guy here is LZ, but if he's basing his premise on the feedback from this pack of clowns alone, he's nuts (or simply advertising for 1560).

I get what you (and LZ) are saying, but find me ONE FA guy who gave Rick Smith as a reason he wouldn't want to come to Houston.
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Old 06-21-2011   #13
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Originally Posted by disaacks3 View Post
What "circles"? We have reports from how many top-tier believable guys here?

Schoebel? (everybody is convinced he wasn't ready to get into playing shape)

Robinson? (wah, wah, I had to play for 9 million..nuff said)

Green? (His old coach thought he was tanking it)

Coleman? (A guy who NEVER, EVER interacted with Smith)

The most believable guy here is LZ, but if he's basing his premise on the feedback from this pack of clowns alone, he's nuts (or simply advertising for 1560).

I get what you (and LZ) are saying, but find me ONE FA guy who gave Rick Smith as a reason he wouldn't want to come to Houston.

Seriously, are people really this defensive about Smith?

I know people here hate Justice....I'm his #1 hater...but he has been saying the same thing for 3 years now about Smith. Now that could be personal with him but I find it strange that it matches up with all of this. Where there is smoke there is fire when it gets past 1, 2 and 3 guys. We don't know how many FAs aren't coming here but even if these guys alone told their friends and Coleman was right, then guys aren't even entertaining the Texans. I won't take Ritchie's word but Coleman is saying he is hearing it from his player buddies. So all of these guys are just grinding an axe? This makes a difference...especially considering the poor track record + the attitude. I don't buy into everything LZ and others say but with his Dad's connections and all I trust he hears more from sources than anyone on this board. His article wasn't even a hatchet job...he wants the guy to succeed. It is basically laying out what is being said...and it makes a difference when bringing in players.
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Old 06-21-2011   #14
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Originally Posted by HoustonFrog View Post
Sure, that is an easy answer. But that then begs the question of "how do you get to that winner status?" So if you are recruiting FAs and one choice is a young organization with a good fan base and great perks but their GM is a dbag who you are iffy about and the other team is close in everything else but their GM is known around circles as a guy who has it together and who is doing the right stuff, who do you go with?That is what people are missing. There is no reason for Smith to be Smith until he wins so saying winning cures all sounds great unless the people you have are preventing that.
I'm not saying Rick Smith isn't a factor at all.

I'm saying that his attitude isn't as big a factor as it's made out to be. His bad drafts, not retaining Dunta and having Jackson and Quinn as starters, lack of experience, and his lack of results have hurt this team more than any pissy attitude problem he may have.

Success comes in many different packages. Hitler may have been one of the most evil souls to ever inhabit the planet, but that didn't stop him from inspiring and obtaining hundreds of thousands of followers.
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Old 06-21-2011   #15
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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I'm not saying Rick Smith isn't a factor at all.

I'm saying that his attitude isn't as big a factor as it's made out to be. His bad drafts, not retaining Dunta and having Jackson and Quinn as starters, lack of experience, and his lack of results have hurt this team more than any pissy attitude problem he may have.

Success comes in many different packages. Hitler may have been one of the most evil souls to ever inhabit the planet, but that didn't stop him from inspiring and obtaining hundreds of thousands of followers.
We agree on alot of this. But I'm not worried as much about his attitude in general as his attitude regarding dealing with players...honesty, etc. To me the guy comes across as the smartest guy in the room despite the fact that he hasn't done a thing. Disingenuous is the word.
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Old 06-21-2011   #16
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Seriously, are people really this defensive about Smith?

I know people here hate Justice....I'm his #1 hater...but he has been saying the same thing for 3 years now about Smith. Now that could be personal with him but I find it strange that it matches up with all of this. Where there is smoke there is fire when it gets past 1, 2 and 3 guys. We don't know how many FAs aren't coming here but even if these guys alone told their friends and Coleman was right, then guys aren't even entertaining the Texans. I won't take Ritchie's word but Coleman is saying he is hearing it from his player buddies. So all of these guys are just grinding an axe? This makes a difference...especially considering the poor track record + the attitude. I don't buy into everything LZ and others say but with his Dad's connections and all I trust he hears more from sources than anyone on this board. His article wasn't even a hatchet job...he wants the guy to succeed. It is basically laying out what is being said...and it makes a difference when bringing in players.
Therein lies your false assumtion, I'm anything BUT a Smith defender. I just fail to see how these few REALLY LOUSY examples point out a bad GM in ANYbody's book. Point to wasted picks and lousy (or lack of) FA pickups, but not this garbage. If these are the best examples that LZ's got, well, he's gotta keep busy somehow with the lockout still on, doesn't he?

Once again, give me ONE (uno, ein, etc) example of a FA that chose not to come to Houston because of Rick Smith. I don't think LZ can. Why? The only time players deal with the GM is trying to get a contract signed. If they're bright players, they let their agents handle it. Handling an Agent roughly? Who'd care?
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Old 06-21-2011   #17
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

Bob McNair is escaping so much blame right now, it's not even funny.

Find me a turd-head teenager out there and I'll show you a set of parents who were either too soft on the kid OR were too hard on the kid.

One way or another, Rick Smith is McNair's creation. He continues to have him around, it's McNair's baby. Therefore, I'm growing tired of worrying about Kubiak this and Smith that, etc., etc. Because ya' know what? At the end of the day, they're here (still) because their boss McNair for some insane reason wants to believe there's no way he (McNair) could get it wrong two times in a row: Once with Capers/Casserly and now with Kubiak/Smith.

In fact, Kubiak's improvement of the offense, the rare find of Arian Foster, and now Wade Phillips has only emboldened McNair to feel good about things.

I can't muster the strength to ***** and piss and moan about the guys McNair hired and retains, in spite of their obvious and consistent flaws, because my sole focus of frustration is placed squarely upon Bob McNair himself.

Therefore, I could give two shits about what several bottom feeder has-beens and never-will-be's have to say about a situation only McNair can solve but refuses to out of God only knows what motives and "belief system."

To me, this isn't about how Rick Smith has hurt us. This is about how our owner has allowed a lot of dumb crap to hurt us...and thinks we're on a glorious road to fame and superstardom. Smith and Kubiak are symptoms of the illness, IMO.
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Old 06-21-2011   #18
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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Therein lies your false assumtion, I'm anything BUT a Smith defender. I just fail to see how these few REALLY LOUSY examples point out a bad GM in ANYbody's book. Point to wasted picks and lousy (or lack of) FA pickups, but not this garbage. If these are the best examples that LZ's got, well, he's gotta keep busy somehow with the lockout still on, doesn't he?

Once again, give me ONE (uno, ein, etc) example of a FA that chose not to come to Houston because of Rick Smith. I don't think LZ can. Why? The only time players deal with the GM is trying to get a contract signed. If they're bright players, they let their agents handle it. Handling an Agent roughly? Who'd care?
As I said above I agree with you and Rey on alot of this. It isn't an assumption though, it was the response and the many responses so far. It doesn't mean you like Rick Smith the GM but in a way you are coming to bat for how he works by saying it doesn't matter. That bothers me considering the Texans need every advantage they can get. There is a difference between a guy who plays hard ball and a guy who thinks he is a badass yet is a horrible GM. If a player and his agent thinks the guy isn't aboveboard than they might avoid the situation altogether. Right, we don't know a number on guys who didn't come because of Smith...just like we don't know who the Texans secretly courted over the years (like they have lied...errr...claimed to have done). It is all so hush, hush you know...on the right track. Again, I'll take LZ and who he knows more than any knowledge I have or anyone else here has on the situation. That is his job and he has alot more connections. Being judged as a GM is the #1 criteria but it doesn't help to be judged bad and then be a dbag on top of it who is considered dishonest.
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Old 06-21-2011   #19
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

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It isn't an assumption, it was the response and the many responses so far. It doesn't mean you like Rick Smith the GM but in a way you are coming to bat for a guy who has seemed to rub people the wrong way for a long time now. That bothers me considering the Texans need every advantage they can get. There is a difference between a guy who plays hard ball and a guy who thinks he is a badass yet is a horrible GM. If a player and his agent thinks the guy isn't aboveboard than they might avoid the situation altogether. Right, we don't know a number on guys who didn't come because of Smith...just like we don't know who the Texans secretly courted over the years (like they have lied...errr...claimed to have done). It is all so hush, hush you know...on the right track. Again, I'll take LZ and who he knows more than any knowledge I have or anyone else here has on the situation. That is his job and he has alot more connections.
Once again, you're making an assumption that I'm coming to bat for ANYONE. GM's deal with this garbage year-in/year-out. I think Bill Polian is an *********, but the Colts get it done on the field. He's a KNOWN ********* to the entire media. Here, LZ is trying to lump Smith into that same fray without the baggage folks like Polian have accrued. How about Jerry Jones (and son Steven), how about the Dolphins GM that asked a player if his mom was a prostitute? Find me stories like that about Rick Smith and I'll see the demon that's being portrayed, rather than a guy that 'jilted players' are upset about.

Do I think he's a good/great GM? Not by a long shot. Do I think he could be adequate? Certainly.
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Old 06-21-2011   #20
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Default Re: [LZ] Unsolicited damage control for Rick Smith

I agree with Frog we are so quick to dismiss these statements just because none of these players were not ever Pro bowlers when they played here.
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