It's long, but very informative. Thanks, LZ. http://blog.chron.com/fantasyfootball/2011/06/unsolicited-damage-control-for-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 shouldnt 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 dont 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 Ive heard about Kubiak is that hes 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 Smiths 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 Ive 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 Im writing today doesnt have an agenda behind it. Ive spoken with Rick Smith on a few occasions over the years and weve 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 dont 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 Pendergasts 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 players integrity/toughness and Green wasnt 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 Greens 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 hes still tight with a few people inside the organization who have given him info over the years. If youre thinking of trying to discredit Marcus Coleman with some type of DUI blast, save it. Ive spoken to Marcus at length over the last two years and hes 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. Im not sure that Rick Smith has the respect of the players based on some of the run-ins hes had with veterans. With contract issues, you cant 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 didnt 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 wouldnt 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 cant leave an agent waiting for a return call no matter what hes 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, Ive met and become friends with many scouts from around the league over the last 10 years and Ive 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 hes 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 wouldnt 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 hes willing to open up and become more personable. Despite what you might think, Gary Kubiak doesnt 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 isnt meant as a slam, but merely an honest critique based on comments Ive received from others around the league. I have friends who work for other teams around the league and Ive watched their teams fail and succeed over the years and Ive 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.