Houston Texans fans are understandably livid with what they saw yesterday in Miami. Compounding the one-sided nature of the loss is the reality that (1) it's the second time this month the team has gotten its doors blown out in a fashion that you just don't see in the NFL; (2) the team lost Arian Foster for the year and possibly saw him take his last snap in a Texans uniform and/or perhaps the NFL late in the fourth quarter of a game that was lost before the first half (first quarter is a fair assessment as well, if you want to go down that route) was over; and (3) the team's backup quarterback, who many once believed should be starting, continued a pattern of irresponsible conduct by missing the team's flight to Miami. Observers, both invested and impartial, are calling for heads to roll, and all eyes will be on Bill O'Brien to see how he responds to a situation that, if not entirely of his own making, certainly belongs in large part to him.
At 2-5, with his team in complete disarray, what will Bill O'Brien do? My guess, along with when I believe each will happen, is below. This is not based on any inside information; it's just what I predict will happen.
1. Bill O'Brien will cut Ryan Mallett today.
Mallett has left O'Brien with no other choice. O'Brien has constantly preached accountability and ownership of one's actions. He's attempted to show his commitment to that message by repeatedly falling on the sword for the team's play (e.g., publicly proclaiming that the team's failure to perform starts with him, or that he has to coach better, etc.). He's cut players he didn't believe were performing up to par (D.J. Swearinger, Louis Nix, and Randy Bullock, to name a couple), regardless of whether the player was an established veteran or a recent O'Brien-backed addition. If Bill O'Brien allows the Houston Texans to continue to employ Ryan Mallett after Mallett has repeatedly demonstrated an inability or an unwillingness to act like a professional, O'Brien's mantra of accountability and putting the team first rings hollow. How could the rest of the Texans buy into another second of O'Brien's message if his actions betray his words?
Best of all, from O'Brien's perspective, is that it doesn't hurt the (admittedly terrible) product on the field. Ryan Mallett is not indispensable to the 2015 Houston Texans. O'Brien deemed Brian Hoyer the better option at quarterback out of training camp. After changing his mind less than a game into the regular season, O'Brien changed it again after the Texans' loss to the Colts. You're not cutting Tom Brady here. You're not even cutting Case Keenum. You're cutting a backup quarterback who has demonstrated, over and over again, that he doesn't have to abide by the rules. It's easy. Go pick up someone off the street to back up Brian Hoyer. Odds are that he won't be markedly worse than Mallett anyway, and at least he'll show up on time.
2. Bill O'Brien will fire Romeo Crennel no later than the bye week.
The Texans' defense was supposed to be special this year. Idiots like me even thought it had a chance to be historically great. The 2015 Houston Texans' defense is not historically great. It's not good. It is not average. It is rancid. Opposing teams regularly do whatever they want against this defense. Romeo Crennel is in charge of this defense. Whether he deserves to bear the brunt of the blame for a flawed scheme or whether it's more a failure of the players to execute should, in theory, matter. But it won't. The players aren't getting fired en masse. The coach tasked with overseeing them will.
Thus, O'Brien cans his defensive coordinator. I don't think it happens today. With the bye week coming up so soon, the calendar lends itself to the team making a change after the first Tennessee game next Sunday. Whoever the new defensive coordinator is then gets the benefit of extra time to tweak and/or install before the Texans take the field against the Bengals on Monday Night Football.
Crennel will be the sacrificial lamb for an abysmal defense and a very bad team less than a year after the much of the fan base was toasting his genius.
3. Bill O'Brien will get more involved in the offensive playcalling this week.
I don't necessarily think O'Brien will strip George Godsey of playcalling responsibility, but I do think O'Brien will reengage to a degree that he had hoped would not be necessary after he formally promoted Godsey to offensive coordinator during the offseason. Maybe it's done under the auspices of figuring out how to handle the loss of Arian Foster. Maybe it's couched as a suggestion that Godsey focus on getting Hoyer ready. I doubt it'll be a formal demotion, but I expect O'Brien to take back some of Godsey's autonomy. Having statistical success in the second half after totally failing to move the ball in the first half when the Dolphins were building a 41-0 lead won't be enough to appease O'Brien. Nor should it be.
4. After the 2015 season ends, Rick Smith will be "promoted" within the organization to another role.
I do not expect Rick Smith to remain the Houston Texans' general manager. I don't think anything will happen during the season, but I do think there will be someone else hired to be general manager during the offseason. Of course, Smith won't get fired. He'll get a new title that gives the appearance of additional power and responsibility. Someone else will be tasked with working with Bill O'Brien to assemble the 2016 Texans.
While I understand the outrage and calls for O'Brien himself to get fired, I don't see that happening. He went 9-7 in his first year at the helm, and Bob McNair is not reactionary. O'Brien gets another year to show that 2015 was an anomaly and not the rule.
What say you? Will all of this come to pass? How about at the time(s) I predicted? Chime in below.
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