It seems that Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith aren’t besties. If you’ve been paying much attention, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. At no point did Brock Osweiler seem to be O’Brien’s guy, and when you sign an Albert Haynesworth-sized bust at QB, it’s only a matter of time before fall-out.
As HoustonDiehards is attending a “Biggest Fans of the BE-SFs” meeting this week in Methoptamia, it fell upon me to ask this week’s question:
Based upon comments the past couple of days regarding the relationship between Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith, what do you think happens if the Texans lose on Saturday? Or what happens if the Texans win?
They call him...Tim:
If the Texans lose on Saturday, I believe the team will let Bill O'Brien walk if he truly wants out of Houston. Not because the Texans really want to (or should) fire him, but because the outrage of losing to a rookie third-string quarterback making his first start (never forget Jacoby Brissett!) on the road will be sufficient cover for the organization to let a coach who's won two division titles in three years and never had a losing season leave town.
If the Texans win on Saturday, I believe Bill O'Brien is the Texans' head coach next season. The question would then turn to whether O'Brien would want to discuss a contract extension with the Texans, as 2017 is the final year of his current deal. If he’s that unhappy with management, O'Brien could very well decide to play out the following season without security beyond 2017 to keep his options open.
Regardless, if O'Brien does hit the open market, he'd be a very hot commodity. Probably the hottest NFL head coaching candidate in the entire field. He’s far more proven than many of the other guys that are being mentioned, and he has experience that many of them don’t. He would only be unemployed as long as he wanted to be.
Matt “Texas Ranger” Weston:
I agree with Tim.
I don't think O’Brien lasts past 2017 if Houston wins on Saturday, though. The quarterback situation is a mess. The team will need better quarterback play next year or they are going to probably be a sub-.500 team next year; he wouldn't survive that.
If the Texans do lose and O’Brien walks out, I'm already excited for the "Bill O'Brien leaving is the reason why the Texans aren't good this year" takes. The latter is going to be hell on Earth.
If the Texans lose this game Saturday to another third-string quarterback making his first start, I don't know if O’Brien would want to remain in Houston. His options would be numerous, as he's a good leader. Aside from some questionable decisions during games, which many coaches have each season, O’Brien’s struggles have mostly revolved around player execution of his system. You can see it on his face on the sidelines on a regular basis, as what O’Brien expects from the outcome of a given play is often not what happens.
If the Texans beat the Raiders, I think O’Brien will be here next year to prove that this system can get the team to the next level. It would be incredibly odd for him to play out the last year of his contract without an extension, which could create a constant distraction for the organization and the media, because it is VERY rare for head coaches in the NFL to work through their final year of a contract. If there's confidence enough to give O’Brien next year, why not enough confidence to offer an extension? On the flip side, if O'Brien wants out of here, why would he work here one more year without an extension?
All that said, I think O'Brien either departs at the end of this season or gets an extension.
I don't think it's as simple as saying, “If the Texans win on Saturday, he's good." The most likely scenario right now is that the Texans win on Saturday, and then get absolutely demolished against the Patriots the following week. In this case, the fact that you got to the second round of the playoffs doesn't (or shouldn't) mean much when you get pantsed on national TV... again... and the only reason you got there is because you lucked into playing a third-string QB in the Wild Card round.
I think if the Texans lose this weekend, Bill O’Brien is done in Houston, but if the situation above plays out, he may also be gone. It will be annoying to go through the "how could the Texans get rid of a coach who was two wins away from a Super Bowl?!" hawt taeks, but it will likely be billed as a mutual split. If the rumors are true, why would O'Brien want to stick around when he doesn't get along with his boss, when he's far away from where he really wants to be (New England), and when he would be a fairly hot commodity? I could see him going to the Bills or back to college for a few years.
On the other hand, the Texans would be one of the more attractive vacancies out there, though I'm currently not seeing too many coaches on the market that really get me excited.
As I said on Battle Red Radio Tuesday night, the Brock Osweiler signing never made sense from BOB’s perspective. It didn’t really make much sense from a talent evaluation point of view, either, which is why the Osweiler addition screamed Rick Smith or Uncle Bob McNair as the one who pulled the trigger on the deal, not O’Brien.
If I’m BOB, I’m pissed. If I’m Smith, I have a direct line to the owner, and I’m made of Teflon. I’m neither a fan of O’Brien or Smith, but win or lose, something will have to break in the off-season. It won’t be Rick Smith who leaves, either.
There seems to be a lot of consternation about losing Bill O’Brien, and I don’t get it. If his second to worst ranked offense by DVOA, his ugly game-planning, his poor use of the clock, and terrible record of challenges impress you, I’m not sure what kind of argument could be made to persuade you otherwise.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with Bill O’Brien, but your Houston Texans appear to be heading toward a drama filled offseason.