While the New England Patriots are still trying to figure out how to best replace him, Nick Caserio has held his introductory press conference as the Houston Texans’ new general manager. The Patriots’ former director of player personnel accepted the position earlier this month, after his new team had tried to lure him to Houston without success on two previous occasions.
The organization’s efforts worked this time, however, and Caserio will now fill the vacant position while trying to do what his predecessor failed: capturing some of that New England magic.
Judged by his first meeting with the Houston media, Caserio will try to do that by focusing first and foremost on certain processes that either have or have not proven themselves as successful. As an example of that, the 45-year-old named two former Patriots players who apparently left a lasting impact on him.
“If you were to say, ‘What’s the one thing that’s going to be important?’ It’s understanding the amount of work and the effort that it takes on a day-to-day basis, and to understand that if you’re not going to be process-driven or process-oriented, the only way that you get better is to have a process in place,” said Caserio.
“Fortunately, being able to be around a lot of good players in New England, everybody understands how good Tom [Brady] is, and everybody associates Tom with the success that he’s had. But what made Tom great was his process. Each day he invested in that process and it was very important to him.”
Brady spent two decades as the Patriots’ starting quarterback before leaving in 2020, leading the team to and unprecedented run of success that included six Super Bowl wins. Along the way, he grew from relative draft day afterthought to the game’s greatest ever quarterback by meticulously working on his craft and investing the necessary resources into his process to build successful habits.
Caserio pointed at his practice rituals as a concrete example of that.
“Just picture this,” he said. “The way practice is split up, the offense is going, the defensive guys that aren’t involved in servicing their respective side of the ball on the sideline doing some different things. So, when the defense was going through their weekly prep, going through the opponent’s prep, Tom would be on the sidelines with a band around his waist working on his drop backs.
“You might be thinking to yourself, ‘This guy has been in the league for like 50 years, what’s he doing over there working on his dropbacks?’ Well, that was part of his process. That’s what he believed in.”
Another player who took a similar approach to his craft is special teams ace Matthew Slater. The long-time team captain, who was just voted to his ninth Pro Bowl and seventh total All-Pro team this season, has been with the Patriots since 2008 and much like Brady developed from relatively obscure late-round pickup to organizational cornerstone.
“Matthew Slater, who’s a multi-time, multi-year Pro Bowler and one of the most respected and one of the best players in the league and in his capacity is off to the side working with the special teams assistant on gunner releases,” said Caserio about the 35-year-old. “You might be thinking to yourself, ‘What’s he doing over there working on his gunner releases?’ Well, he’s trying to prepare himself so he can optimize his performance on Sunday.”
Based on those examples of a successful process, Caserio is now trying to mold the Texans from a 4-12 team with little resources available in terms of cap space and draft capital into a winner. Not an easy job, but one the long-time Patriots executive is willing to take on.
“If you have a process in place that’s a really good process and you invest in that process and you’re consistent with it week to week, that’s going to give you an opportunity to go out there on Sunday and duplicate and reduplicate success.”