When Brian Gaine was hired as the new General Manager of the Houston Texans in January, Gaine spoke glowingly about how he and Texans head coach Bill O’Brien were “philosophically aligned” in terms of their vision for how to construct and a run a football operation.
The NFL Draft provided one of the early opportunities for that joint philosophy to be put on display as the franchise moves forward without Rick Smith running the show. Smith took a leave of absence in January to help tend to his cancer-stricken wife.
“We have a lot of the same philosophy as to how to build a football culture, a football team. We believe in the same things,” O’Brien said. “There’s a lot of common language that we use and we talk all the time. We communicate really well.”
If things really were as poor between Smith and O’Brien as it appears, the change appears to have significantly lessened tensions within the team at the very least. Now it’s up to Gaine and O’Brien to turn their shared vision into a success on the field. They’re quite happy with how things have gone so far.
That still may not save the play. Via Batista, Packers CEO Mark Murphy believes that the kickoff rules will be looked at from season to season, with a “short leash” applied to the question of whether the reconfigured play reduces injuries. If not, the kickoff will eventually be gone.
These are the first substantive changes to the play that the NFL candidly calls the most dangerous in the game. Past adjustments had more to do with fewer instances of the play, via the promotion of more touchbacks. Now, the play actually will change.
The overriding goal is simple and clear: Reduce the high-impact collisions that occur when two players run directly at each other, at full speed. It’s a cocktail of Newtonian physics that results in major forces being applied to the human spine (specifically the C4-C5 area) when players instinctively dip their helmets at impact. If successful, these changes will reduce some of the factors that go into an equation that currently combines for a potentially explosive outcome.