A year into his career as a head coach in the NFL, there's no denying that Bill O'Brien has given Houston Texans fans ample reasons to believe that he's the right man for the job. He took over a 2-14 team (albeit a 2-14 team that was not as bereft of talent as one might think a 2-14 team would be) and turned in a 9-7 rookie campaign that saw him have to play four different players (none of whom will be confused for Aaron Rodgers) at QB. That's impressive. But how does that accomplishment measure against the resumes of his peers? Is Bill O'Brien already considered one of the better coaches in the NFL by people who do not live and die with the Texans every week?
According to at least one analyst, yes.
Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld recently ranked the 25 head coaches in the NFL who were on the job last year (in other words, the seven coaches freshly hired since the end of last season are not eligible for this list and are ranked separately at the end of the article) from best to worst, with the following parameters in mind:
If you had to win a game tomorrow, who do you want coaching your team? Not five years from now, not five years ago. Tomorrow. That’s the guiding principle behind my second annual coach rankings.
The man they call "OB" came in at No. 8 on the list, ahead of Super Bowl winning coaches like Tom Coughlin and Mike Tomlin. Daugherty explains:
Bill O’Brien is the tale of two Week 17s. Week 17 2013: The Texans were in the midst of a 13-game losing streak, and on track for the No. 1 overall pick. Week 17 2014: The Texans entered with a 4-2 record since their bye (8-7 overall), and an outside shot at a playoff berth. That’s the level to which the Texans’ fortunes changed under O’Brien. Not that O’Brien walked into a hopeless situation. Any rookie coach should be lucky enough to have the best defensive player on the planet (J.J. Watt), and two All-Pros on offense (Arian Foster and Andre Johnson). It wasn’t just that O’Brien whipped a talented roster into 9-7, however, but how he did it. How did O’Brien land on the coaching radar in the first place? Via Tom Brady’s golden arm. What did he do his final year at Penn State? Dial up 32.6 passes per game with true freshman Christian Hackenberg. So what was his plan in Houston? Lead the league in rushing attempts. O’Brien maximized his roster in every which way, tapping DeAndre Hopkins’ superstar potential while making Jadeveon Clowney's lost rookie year a footnote. The Colts have had free rein of the AFC South since landing Andrew Luck. O’Brien has ensured that’s about to change.
What's your take on O'Brien's place among his NFL head coaching peers? Does Daugherty's analysis give a guy who's only led a team in the NFL for a single season too much credit? What other coaches, if any, would you rather have running the show for the Texans instead of Bill O'Brien?