HOUSTON — Brian Gaine has had a long journey to the top.
After 19 years serving in various roles in the personnel departments of several NFL teams, Gaine is the one calling the shots now.
“I started at the bottom and worked my way to the top at every level of every organization that I’ve been in,” said Gaine, who was introduced as the Houston Texans’ general manager on Wednesday.
Gaine spent time as a player for three seasons before turning to the other side of the game in 1999 as a scout with the New York Jets. He has also worked with Dallas (2005-07), Miami (2008-13), Houston (2014-16) and Buffalo (2017) — most recently as the vice president of player personnel.
“I do believe, with a great amount of humility, I’ve been in five different organizations, so I have a unique perspective on what it has taken to win and what it has taken to achieve,” Gaine said. “I’ve had a chance to play a small part in going to the playoffs and winning division titles in each of those organizations. But most importantly, I think it requires good people, people that love football and are passionate about winning. Equally, a good process.
“I’ve seen varying processes in terms of how to build a roster and how to build a championship-caliber team, and I hope to implement some of those things here at the Texans.”
When Gaine last worked for the Texans, he served as the director of pro personnel in 2014 and then as the director of player personnel for two years. Heading into this new role with Houston, Gaine said he will work collaboratively with Texans coach Bill O’Brien, who recently received a four-year extension.
“What you see on Sundays obviously is the result of player acquisition and coaching, but there’s a process that’s involved in terms of getting to Sunday,” he said. “Bill and I are very philosophically aligned in terms of how to do that, how to build a right program, how to build a right culture, and it’s not just the football roster, but it’s also the football operation and that requires every aspect that touches the game and touches the locker room.
“All those aspects of the football operation, Bill and I are philosophically aligned in terms of how to run it and how to do it.”
One position on the Texans’ roster that Gaine won’t have to worry much about is quarterback — once Deshaun Watson returns from injury.
Watson tore a knee ligament during a practice on Nov. 2, but quickly established himself as an exciting playmaker. He finished his rookie season passing for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns – the most TD throws in a quarterback’s first seven career games since 1970.
“He’s certainly a foundational piece for us, in terms of what we can build around,” Gaine said. “It certainly would be an advantage for any general manager coming into a team to have a quarterback in place that you believe in, that you know that can help you win football games.”
Having a high-caliber player such as Watson at their disposal, Gaine — who has been evaluating players since arriving back in Houston — understands they have to put pieces around him to help him succeed on the field.
Some of that will be done through free agency, but also in the draft, in which the Texans will not have a pick in the first or second rounds this year.
“We will pursue every avenue to improve this roster, as it relates to the draft, to free agency, to waiver claims, to trades, to practice squad steals, to tryouts, workouts,” Gaine said. “Whatever we have to do to upgrade the roster in any aspect of the operation, we’ll continue to do that. If free agency presents the opportunity for us to add a championship piece to the roster, we certainly will pursue that.”