With the Texans’ 2018 season now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to reflect (see what I did there?) and offer up some constructive criticism of the team. Let’s start with a guy who probably receives more criticism than anyone associated with the Texans—head coach Bill O’Brien. I’ve asked the BRB staff to offer up well thought-out, reasoned, and realistic constructive criticism of O’Brien, and I received a variety of answers. Of course, I had to shoot BFD with multiple horse tranquilizers, hog-tie him, and nearly drown him in a puddle of his own kale puree in order to force “constructive” thoughts from his face on O’Brien, because that is just not what he does. Let’s see what the staff came up with:
For me, I just want O’Brien to put more trust in Deshaun Watson. I understand the overly-conservative gameplans this season were a result of Watson coming off injury and O’Brien’s knowledge that the offensive line could get Watson killed at any time - but Watson has proven to be good when he gets a lot of reps throwing the ball and is able to get into a rhythm. I would like to see more of that. Get Watson on the move, get him going quickly in the short and mid-range passing game, and let him carve defenses up.
I would also love to see O’Brien hire someone he is not already intimately familiar with to come in and scheme with him on the offense. It doesn’t have to be an offensive coordinator - just someone who is NOT in the George Godsey “one of my guys” mold to come in and offer a completely fresh perspective.
Honestly my biggest complaint about BOB has always been how he handles situational football. I feel like sometimes he overthinks things and it leads to him making either outrageously conservative or outrageously aggressive decisions at the worst possible times (like running it straight up the gut against Seattle and New England in 2017 instead of keeping the ball in Watson’s hands to ice those games). Clock management has also been an issue, and it feels like when we get down in the second half the offense NEVER moves fast enough in hurry up. We need to see 15-20 seconds in between snaps, not 30.
Also, quit it with this double play action, hold-the-ball-for-five-seconds bullcrap. That’s just asking for Deshaun to get drilled and it only ever SORT OF works when Will Fuller is healthy, which is almost never.
For me it just feels like he lacks trust in Deshaun Watson too much. Like he still treats him as a young and inexperienced quarterback and therefore is afraid he’s going to make a mistake in key moments, which leads to the conservative play calling. It’s the total opposite of what Andy Reid does with Patrick Mahomes. I want to see O’Brien let Watson take over instead of shying away due to his youth and inexperience.
Bill O’Brien has a well documented history of calling very close one-possession games his entire tenure with Houston with very few exceptions. He needs to unleash Watson and stop trying to play it safe with the majority of the play calling, but I just don’t know if he is even creative enough or capable of putting that type of a game plan together. Bill seems like a guy who, if given a super car, would install a hitch and use it to pull a trailer around instead of blowing the doors off a competitor as it was designed.
That being said, the Texans need to hire an offensive coordinator who can mimic other high-scoring offenses. The NFL is a copy-cat league, so let’s get busy copying and putting Houston’s top talent on offense in a position to push the scoreboard. That will also give the defensive front seven the advantage to pin their ears back and improve the pass rush as other teams are forced to play from behind.
Hire an assistant coach to call timeouts and make challenges.
Put in a two-minute offense that doesn’t worry about who gets doubled and instead gets to the line and calls plays and gets snaps off in less than 15 seconds.
Look, Bill. Here’s the thing. Deshaun Watson is a an extremely talented quarterback. I know you thought you didn’t need talent at the quarterback position to win lots of games. You wanted, you craved terrible quarterback play. You lived for getting the absolute minimum out of the position, running the ball ineffectively, stringing together two good drives a game, and letting your defense pull the slay. Those days are gone. Brian Hoyer is never coming back again. All that unrequited love is vanquished. You have a quarterback you can win games because of instead of with. And look, I know the offensive line was the worst in football to start the year, mainly because of you, and Watson was injured, but open up the offense on first down, utilize him as a runner often and teach him when to slide, throw the ball deep more than three times a game, and allow him to win football games. Don’t unleash him in the second half just because your’re down. Let him play like he’s able to for entire games. He can do it if you just let him.
Also play some Madden this summer and learn how to manage the end of halves and games. You’ve been awful at it since you took over in 2014. Get your [KITTEN] together man. It isn’t that hard.
Marvin, you coached for Bill Belichick for a couple years, and it seems like you learned nothing from what makes him successful. Belichick schemes to exploit the opposition’s weakness while also tamping down their strengths. From week to week, the game plan is different in order to create the most favorable match-ups.
Instead, Marvin, you refuse to deviate from your game plan, one which has had no success unless Tom Brady is executing it. You use Lamar Miller like he’s Christian Okoye. You give snaps to Alfred Blue and Ryan Griffin. You do not scheme to exploit matchups. Heck, you even bragged that you don’t want the best offense in the league, which I’ll soon prove to be a laughable and counter-successful statement.
Toss out your scheme and play to the strengths of the talent of your roster. Oh, and shoot for the best offense in the league because that’s really freaking important.
Just as you expect every player to be “multiple” and able to fill many roles, perform a variety of tasks and have some Swiss army knife-like characteristics, you as a coach should be able to do the same thing. But, that doesn’t work if you’re trying to say, take a left tackle and make him play cornerback - which is what it seems you’re trying to do by being a head coach and a play caller/offensive scheme-builder. Forcing the players on the Texans roster to strictly adhere to the “O’Brien Way” is self-destructive. Adapt the playbook, play-calling and game management to the strengths of your roster - not the other way around.
Years ago, Brad Childress took over the Minnesota Vikings and forced the players to adapt to his vision - and it almost worked, but solely because they brought in Brett Favre, a quarterback who refused to “fit in” to a scheme when it didn’t work, a quarterback who freelanced and overcame bad play calling and game management by using his instincts to keep the team in it. But, there’s only so much of that a quarterback can do when the offensive theory is working against him, hence Childress was sent down the road with no Super Bowl ring, relegated to the ex-NFL-coordinator-turned-minor-league-coach ranks.
Learn from the mistakes of coaches before you and put your players in a better position to succeed by hiring an offensive coordinator who knows you don’t use Deshaun Watson like [NAME REDACTED] where his instincts can kick in, but don’t always have to in order to save the day. An OC who knows Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue are NOT interchangeable. One who can adapt in-game when the 4 millionth, highly predictable A-Gap run on 1st and 2nd down just isn’t going to work.
Then your name won’t be sitting on the pile of other former ‘never-got-it-done’ coaches to have had brief careers atop the NFL ‘where-are-they-now’ bin.
Players like you and want to play for you. Fans love you and want to root for you. But, what got you to win a division title isn’t going to get you to the championship game, much less the super bowl.
So there you have it - I... think... maybe some of that was constructive? Possibly? Lil’ bit?
This was fun. We will do this again for another coach, or player...
What are your constructive criticisms of Bill O’Brien? Use the comments section below to let us know!