Rick Smith’s Best-Laid Plans

Sometime back in the darkest days of the George W. Bush years, a meme was making the rounds on the Left side of the Internet: “ZOMG! The US military has a plan to invade CANADA!!!!”


At the time, I took it as yet more evidence of the depressing depths to which our political discourse had sunk.  The United States is a real country with a functioning military — of course we have a plan to invade Canada, just as Canada, a real country with a functioning military, has a plan to invade us.  Any country more serious than, say, Luxembourg has plans to invade all its neighbors, plus plans to fight off invasion from America, Russia, Mars, and zombies.[i] “Having a plan” is not the same thing as “having a reasonable expectation of executing that plan,” let alone “really really wanting to.”  Planning for highly improbable scenarios like a Canadian invasion, a zombie outbreak, etc. is how military officers get practice doing important parts of their jobs.  Breathe easy, Saskatchewan — the Marines won’t be storming ashore anytime soon.[ii]

In fact, I thought all large organizations behaved this way.  Banks “plan” to get robbed all the time, right?  Not that they really expect to – you know, given how extensive and expensive their security is – but they’d be fools not to have a contingency plan in place, right?  I mean… right?

The Texans make me wonder.  Professional football is pretty much the definition of a contingency-dependent business.  Teams expect their players to get injured and miss time.  So why do Rick Smith and Co. seemingly have no plan at all for replacing Deshaun Watson?  Or anybody else for that matter?

Consider Rick’s recent free agent moves.  On November 3rd – that’s five days ago – he signed QB Matt McGloin, another graduate of “quarterback guru” Bill O’Brien’s ashram.  But before McGloin could even start deciphering the terminology of BOB’s legendarily complex offense, the Texans cut him in order to sign… Josh Johnson.  In case you’re wondering who Josh Johnson is, don’t worry, the rest of the league is wondering the same thing – he hasn’t suited up for an NFL team since 2013 and last attempted a pass in 2011.  Remember 2011?  Back when Adele ruled the airwaves, Green Lantern was on the big screen, and hair-gelled android Mitt Romney was thinking about maybe running for President?

This is not the work of a man who has carefully considered a basic part of his job.

Current starter Tom Savage has yet to play six straight quarters of professional football without getting hurt.  He’s been on injured reserve more times than he switched colleges.  The dude’s fragile, is what I’m trying to say, and there’s a very good chance that the backup, whoever that might be, will be on the field this Sunday.  A general manager who knew what he was doing would want the backup – again, whoever he is – to get in as much practice as he possibly can.

With Duane Brown, too, Rick seemingly flew by the seat of his pants.  Risking injury by playing a guy one game, against the team he’s about to get traded to, is, upon further reflection, not the Rick Smithiest thing a GM could possibly do.  The Rick Smithiest thing to do is what Rick Smith actually did, which is trotting out the combination of Chris Clark, Kendall Lamm, and Julien Davenport at the second most important position in football and saying “we’re good.”  I’m not saying the dead certainty he’d be running for his life every game definitely blew Deshaun Watson’s knee out, but I’m not not saying it either.

And so it goes down the line.  J.J. Watt was coming off two back surgeries; do you think he might miss another game or two?  Nor is Jadeveon Clowney the paragon of long-term health.  Shouldn’t we have, I dunno, signed a D-lineman or two in the offseason, when a few guys who aren’t Lamarr Houston might’ve been available?  Ditto cornerback, where Kevin Johnson’s walking boot, Jonathan Joseph’s festering corpse, and Kareem Jackson were penciled in to start?  You think maybe there were some depth issues there?  Ditto inside linebacker, where only the magic of discount steroids kept Brian Cushing’s 947-year-old thrice-repaired knees from starting again.

Rick Smith evidently saw none of this.  This is not a man with a plan.  We’re going 3-13 this year.  Can we finally fire this fucking guy?


[i] No offense to Luxembourg.

[ii] Wonder if anyone will get that joke?

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