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The Bill O’Brien firing puts a spotlight on Jack Easterby

16th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration

TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 30: Pastor Jack Easterby speaks onstage during the 16th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at ASU Gammage on January 30, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Super Bowl Gospel)

Marcus Ingram

The Texans have fired Bill O’Brien as head coach and General Manager, after an 0-4 start to his tenure in both jobs. The Texans did not fire Jack Easterby as executive V.P. of football operations, after an 0-4 start to his tenure in the position.

That disconnect raises several obvious questions about Easterby’s role in O’Brien’s firing, and in Easterby’s future with the team.

First, did owner Cal McNair make the decision to fire O’Brien with or without Easterby’s input? If McNair sought Easterby’s input, what did Easterby say? Was the idea for the firing initiated by McNair or planted by Easterby?

Remember this: Easterby has had an unusual path to the top of the ladder of an NFL franchise. Some league insiders believe he has thrived based more on interpersonal style than football substance. So if, for example, he were to express opinions on O’Brien’s performance, it’s fair to wonder how Easterby would even be able to properly make those assessments.

Second, did McNair consider firing Easterby, too?

Third, what role will Easterby have in hiring a new coach and/or General Manager?

Fourth, is Easterby accountable for the performance of the football team, like a coach of G.M. would be, or is he insulated from that? His unconventional background could allow him to do what plenty of other NFL executives have done in the past: Take credit when things go well, and run for cover when the crap hits the fan, claiming that he’s not a “football guy.”

Regardless, the fact that O’Brien was fired and Easterby wasn’t raises real questions about Easterby’s role in getting O’Brien fired (if any) and Easterby’s power moving forward. When those questions are answered, more will be known about the direction of the franchise -- and the attractiveness of the coaching and G.M. jobs in Houston, since whoever is hired may have to answer to Easterby first and Cal McNair second.