Bill Belichick knows Jack Easterby. Bill Belichick likes Jack Easterby.
Bill Belichick is surprised that Jack Easterby is running an NFL front office.
Easterby — the Houston Texans executive vice president of football operations — cut his teeth in the NFL with the New England Patriots. A team chaplain with the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs before them, Easterby gained Belichick’s trust and earned his way into the Patriots inner circle as a “character coach.”
Easterby’s swift ascent
He was on the field for practice drills and sat in on personnel meetings. He helped the team deal with the aftermath of the Aaron Hernandez tragedy.
In April 2019, the Texans hired Easterby as the head of team development. He has since been promoted to executive vice president of football operations amid a front-office shakeup in Houston. With the Patriots preparing to face the Texans next Sunday, Belichick was asked his thoughts on Easterby on Monday.
Belichick’s take on Easterby
He shared kind words with the Houston media.
“Jack did a great job for us,” Belichick said, per Pro Football Talk. “His role was a varied one. He worked with a lot of different aspects of the organization — players, coaches, support people, so forth.
“He was a person who could connect well with everybody, from the owner of the team to the equipment manager or equipment guy that picks up towels and all the people in between. He was a very valuable person in this organization in the time he was here.”
Belichick then answered whether he expected Easterby to be running a front office.
“Jack’s not a personnel person,” Belichick said. “No.”
Was that criticism?
That doesn’t necessarily sound like criticism from Belichick. It’s just a blunt, honest answer that addresses concerns shared by others around a front office that has experienced turnover and made numerous questionable decisions in recent seasons — most notably the March trade of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.
Front office under fire
The Houston front office was under the microscope again last week when it fired respected communications executive Amy Palcic, reportedly citing a “cultural fit.” The move drew widespread criticism from national NFL media and commentary from prominent players like Hopkins and Texans captain and defensive end J.J. Watt.
Team president Jamey Rootes publicly took credit for the decision, but some wondered if Easterby played a role in the controversial call. Per his job description on the team website, Easterby “directs the overall culture of the organization.”
There’s plenty of turmoil to be found around Houston’s front office. Whether he intended to be critical or not, Belichick’s comments Monday didn’t help the situation.
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