The Houston Texans formally introduced their new general manager, Brian Gaine, at a press conference Wednesday. Gaine was unsurprisingly optimistic on the Texans’ future, but the former Buffalo Bills executive will have a lot of work ahead of him if he’s to fix what is currently a sinking ship.

On the bright side, it appears Gaine, who is replacing longtime GM Rick Smith, likely already has his franchise quarterback with Deshaun Watson, barring another major injury. In today’s NFL, that’s a huge piece of the puzzle to have in place.

Beyond that, the Texans are a mess in some key areas.

The Texans’ offensive line was an awful mishmash of no-names and underachievers in 2017. Serious investment at that position is needed to keep the franchise centerpiece Watson healthy and happy.

Watson has one of the NFL’s best receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and a solid running back duo in Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman, but a couple more weapons at the offensive skill positions wouldn’t hurt.

On defense, Gaine will inherit a fairly strong front seven (as long as lineman J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus can return to form after serious injuries ended their 2017 seasons), but the secondary will be a severe weakness if it is not properly addressed.

The Texans’ best defensive back, Johnathan Joseph, is a free agent and will turn 34 next season (long in the tooth for a DB). Kareem Jackson is a good DB, but after him, the Texans’ next best option is 2015 first-round pick Kevin Johnson, who has struggled mightily on the field and dealt with multiple injuries in his short career.

And unless a trade can be worked out, Gaine will have to tackle the Texans’ needs largely without the help of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Texans will be without a first- or second-round pick thanks two a pair of trades last year that unloaded 2016 failed experiment Brock Osweiler onto the Cleveland Browns and allowed them to move up in the 2017 Draft to select Watson.

Gaine also will have to negotiate what will surely be a high-dollar contract extension with star defensive end/outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.

At the press conference Wednesday, Gaine said that the Texans “will earn the right to win.” Well, in order to field a winning team in the 2018 season, the first-time GM Gaine will have to earn his stripes by making the right free agent decisions and finding some late-round draft gems in the offseason.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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