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The Argument Against Retaining Bill O’Brien

Should the Texans’ head coach stay or should he go? He should go.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Bill O’Brien yelling. Again.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Those of you who listen to Battle Red Radio know that I’ve been off the Bill O’Brien (BOB) bandwagon for a while now. As a head coach, I do not like BOB. I do not like BOB in a box with a fox while eating lox. Yet BOB continues to have solid support, which is a bit befuddling for me. Thus, I’m laying out my argument as to why I do not think the Texans should retain BOB’s services next year.


First, let’s establish that BOB inherited a supremely talented roster, but one with a big hole at QB.

I don’t know where it originates (“Teapot?”), but there seems to be an awful lot of drama from Kirby. For me, it started with “Hard Knocks” and continued through the season with the Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett drama. Then, there was the subsequent [Name Redacted] signing, the washing of the hands of the signing, and then the rumors of confrontations between Brock and BOB. Then, there was the “No, I wanted to start Deshaun Watson first” battle between BOB and Rick Smith.

Not being a dramatic kind of person, this whole things bothers me immensely from a supposed professional. Is it BOB? Is it Rick Smith? I don’t know, but it’s clearly impacting the team’s performance, even if just from the perspective of quarterback evaluation.

Wins and Losses

Surely, BOB brings something to the win-loss record, correct? Let’s take a look at some aspects I find absolutely fascinating about the team’s record under BOB (through his 56 games including 2017, for a total record of 30-26):

  • Against the AFC South, the Texans are now 15-6 (.714), losing three of the last four match-ups. Against the rest of the league, the Texans are 15-20 (.429). Half the team’s wins have come against the AFC South. Our AFC South opponents are 117-196 (.374) over that span.
  • The Texans are 15-3 (.833) against the Jaguars, Titans, and Bengals, which makes them 15-23 (.395) against the rest of the league. JAX, TEN, and CIN are a combined 91-171 (.347) since BOB took over.
  • Against teams .500 and worse, which of course includes most of the AFC South every season, the Texans are 22-8 (.733) since O’Brien took over. Those teams have an overall record of 147-309 (.322).
  • Take out the AFC South, and the Texans are 9-6 (.600) outside of the AFC South versus teams .500 and worse (overall 80-143 (.359)).
  • Against teams better than .500, the Texans are 8-18 (.308), while those teams are a combined 255-121 (.678). Three of the eight wins are against Tennessee and Cincinnati.

My conclusions from the above:

  • The Texans punch down. We beat teams we’re supposed to beat, and we’ve been fortunate to play against the AFC South six times a year. Also, the Bengals.
  • We do not beat teams we aren’t supposed to beat. The Texans are just over .500 under BOB, and we are 8-18 against our “peers.” That’s pathetic.
  • I see nothing in our record to reflect that BOB adds any value as our head coach, especially when considering how lucky the team was in one-score games in 2016 and the talent level on the roster.

The QB Situation and Offensive Scheme

The first three years and one half of one game under BOB were a clustercluck at QB. I don’t know who deserves the blame for this. It’s not all BOB, as he came into a bad situation. However, going to war with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Brock Osweiler, and Tom Savage was never going to turn out well.

Who’s to blame? Was Rick Smith not willing to draft a QB? Did BOB not like anything he saw in the draft? Was BOB so arrogant to believe he could plop any old QB into his system and they’d excel? Again, it’s not all on BOB, but he’s at least a partner with Smith.

Then there’s the scheme itself, one so difficult it can only be learned in four years or by Tom Brady. BOB took Lamar Miller and tried to turn him into Christian Okoye. BOB’s scheme never creates any easy yards and no yards at all at times.

The only reason BOB’s scheme found success in 2017 is because it was no longer BOB’s scheme. It was Dabo Swinney’s scheme. BOB and Deshaun Watson sat down and discussed how Watson could be the most successful, and that meant implementing a large amount of what Watson did at Clemson.

Without the transcendent Watson around to run Swinney’s scheme, the Texans revert back to BOB’s scheme. The Texans scored seven (7) offensive points against the fourth worst defense by DVOA on Sunday. With Tom Savage at the helm and no changes coming to the scheme, things will not get better. At best, the offense will be similar to 2016’s.

And just why should it change? When given the opportunity to hire a real offensive coordinator, O’Brien took over the position for himself. Again. Once again, arrogance seems to be one of BOB’s primary characteristics.


I wanted Bill O’Brien as our head coach after the 2013 season, and we got him. I was wrong that he was the right choice.

At the end of the season, BOB will likely have a record under .500, and it’s more than just the injuries. We’ll head into the 2018 offseason with major problems on the offensive line, the defensive line, and the secondary. I don’t mean those units will be below average; I mean we’re in a lot of trouble. We’re not going to be able to fix much, as we traded our first two picks next year to rid ourselves of Brock Osweiler and to acquire Deshaun Watson. Our win-now opportunity was in 2017, and that boat has sailed.

Trading up in the 2018 NFL Draft? Sure, it’s an option, but we’re also a team sorely lacking quality talent and depth, which is on display on an annual basis by our crappy special teams play. The personnel problems aren’t all on BOB. Let’s be clear.

But what is on BOB? Crappy system, poor clock management, unprepared teams, lack of game awareness, inappropriate player use, knee-capping conservative play-calling and game management, and just a really, really crappy offensive scheme (yes, it’s so bad it needs to be mentioned twice).

Plus, who started the first game of the season? Was it really that difficult to differentiate between Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson in the preseason? BOB’s personnel decisions are a dumpster fire by themselves.

I’m ready to move on. I just don’t see what BOB does as a head coach in the NFL that can’t be done by anybody else wearing a headset.