Back in the 1980's oil prices went into the tank and I was laid off. I spent 7 years in exile in Arkansas working as an "outsider" engineer at Arkansas Power & Light where almost all of the engineers were U of A grads. While there I blasphemed. I had observed the Razorbacks basketball team under Eddie Sutton regularly win more than they lost, regularly win games in the NCAA tournament and regularly head home before the final game of the season. I observed that the Razorbacks would never win the whole enchilada under the over-controlling Coach Sutton, who spent most of the game tugging hard on the reins of the thoroughbreds he had recruited. The team was always good or very good, had good discipline and played hard, but could turn any game into a 2 point heart killer by the conservative nature of their game.
At the time, you would have thought I had spit on the graves of the ancestors of the Razorback fans I worked along side. Eddie had taken them to the final four. He had finished 7 times in the top 20, twice at number five. he had won the conference five times. He had never had a losing season and regularly won more than 75% of their games. But they did not see that while he might get them in sight of the promised land, like Moses and MLK he was not going to be with them when they got there. And he wasn't. Nolan Richardson, who had his troops rain down 40 minutes of Hell on the opponents took them to three final fours and took home the 1994 title. It was not going to happen with Eddie.
Now, Bill O'Brien is not nearly as accomplished as Eddie Sutton, but he seems like a solid individual and he builds teams that play well (except for when most of the stars are injured). But after watching him lose - again - to the team he coached for and obviously admires the most, the New England Patriots - he is not going to lead this team to the promised land. Never.
It's not just that he did not call the timeout in the first half that might have reversed the big juggled throw to Gronk. It is how after the game he said it was not his job to make things easier for the referees in that situation. The Pats had no trouble making things easier for the referees by rushing up to the line and snapping the ball so the refs did not have to go over to the sideline and review the play. Apparently Belichick and Brady were glad to take positive action to assure their team did not have to give up those precious 28 yards that led to a last second TD before the half.
And it was torture watching the Texans take almost 2-1/2 minutes to go 16 yards after recovering the fumbled punt when down 14 points with 4-1/2 minutes left in the game. We know that winning teams like the Pats or the Packers would have taken about 30 seconds to score in this situation. But Deshaun Watson, who had carried his Clemson team on his back to come back against the Crimson Tide a couple times was at the mercy of Bill the Delayer, waiting for him to make the play call rather than let the young man call a play in a rush on his own.
And it was evident that Mr. Watson probably could have used some more exposure in preseason to knock off the rust and be ready for this first game of the season. Yes, it is "dangerous" and "risky" to play QBs in the preseason, but sometimes a team has to take a risk to get better.
In the end the Texans lost another game that they could have won. And again the fans are left pondering the what-ifs of a coaching staff that never seems to have the team ready for the start of the season, never seems to make correct decisions on challenges and is very bad at time management.
The Texans took a big step in letting Rick Smith go in the off-season. maybe they should have taken one other step.