The Texans ripped the head off of the Bill O’Brien firing rumors like Saturn devouring his son by extending his contract earlier this offseason. No longer could he and Rick Smith shoot paintballs at each other, playing the media about who liked [NAME REDACTED] and who didn’t, who yelled at who, who really loved Deshaun Watson more, and every tumble the franchise had since O’Brien’s hiring in 2014. O’Brien won. Rick Smith stepped down officially because of a sad reason, but who knows if there were any other underlying reasons? In any event, O’Brien still has a job with the Texans. He is his own man, working with a general manager he can communicate really well with. He won.
With a new contract, fresh off a six-game streak where he finally game-planned to his personnel’s abilities and a 4-12 season, Patrick Daugherty has O’Brien ranked 15th out of all NFL head coaches, down eight spots from last season:
15. Bill O’Brien
Career Record: 31-33 (.484)
With The Texans Since: 2014
Last Year’s Ranking: 7
Bill O’Brien climbed the 9-7 ladder his first three years on the job. 9-7 No. 1 finished outside the playoffs. 9-7 No. 2 qualified but didn’t get a win. 9-7 No. 3 beat the injured Raiders in the Wild Card round before hanging with the Patriots in the Divisional. his all happened with seven different starting quarterbacks. For 2017, O’Brien got his eighth and best signal caller. Deshaun Watson took the league by storm, appearing to be O’Brien’s missing piece. After he was lost for the season with a Week 9 practice injury, the exans won only one more game. It was an overdue wake-up call for a team seemingly always on the brink of disaster. To an unusual degree, O’Brien’s (moderate) success has depended on a soft division. That’s not a sustainable formula. The Colts and Titans are under new management. The Jaguars are a quarterback away from being one of the three-best teams in football. O’Brien’s defense, which has mostly carried his offense, has been weakened by injury and free agency. It’s paramount that O’Brien do a better job on his side of the ball. Watson could be the 2018 ticket. If not, O’Brien’s volatile tenure might end with a winter 2019 pink slip.
This is a fair ranking to me. There isn’t anyone I would put O’Brien ahead of or behind of from where he’s at on this list. Overall, the author does what most do when writing a long list of things—they turn to record and playoff wins to fill in the blank spaces that come with being unable to watching every NFL game. As a Texans fan, my reasons are more esoteric and specific.
O’Brien has gotten the bare minimum out of this roster. His offensive scheme was inside runs, tosses to the flat, and hopes and prayers that his defense could limit the opponent to 20 or less. He has mismanaged the clock, especially at end of half and late game situations. He has been a weenie and kicked field goals when he should have gone for it so, so many times. Remember the 2016 AFC Divisional Round loss to the Patriots? You are angry now, aren’t you?
O’Brien’s record is bloated by AFC South junk food. He has struggled and been flat out embarrassed at times by better teams. The life he wasted by trotting terrible quarterbacks out year after year was because of decisions he made specifically, no matter what was said in an alleyway that was later tweeted.
But there is something to say about a basic level of competency and discipline. O’Brien has won games and has put together a squad that stays competent enough to win nine games over the course of a season. He did that until injuries derailed a flawed roster from being able to in 2017. Speaking of last season, O’Brien finally molded an offense around his quarterback and bombarded the league with points for six whole games. He’s been horrendous at certain aspects of coaching, but overall he’s been able to manage this team to win enough football games to stick around.
O’Brien is fine. He’s a turn of hot and cold water knobs regurgitating into a basin.