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BRB Groupthink: What More Do You Need To See From Bill O’Brien?

The BRB masthead revisits their views of Houston’s head coach

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve all been there at one point in time or another. In many cases, we live there. The players, GMs and even the owner have changed, but Bill O’Brien remains the same, despite the Texans having failed to make it past the divisional round, seemingly appearing to have wasted J.J. Watt’s all-world career, and may be in danger of doing the same to Deshaun Watson. But wait, there’s hope!

With O’Brien’s newfound general manager flat earth management overlord powers granting him control of the roster, the success Houston has had with Deshaun Watson, and the convincing wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs, we asked the masthead this simple question:

What will it take to get you to believe Bill O’Brien is the coach Houston needs?

Capt. Ron:

After almost six years, it’s hard to think O’Brien can change his stubborn ways, but in the last two weeks it appears as though a light bulb has gone off for him and he’s figured out that Deshaun Watson is driving a Ferrari, not a Hummer. The calls over the radio from O’Brien and the pit crew need to keep this offense smoking through the streets of Formula 1 cities and not through the off-road terrain of Terlingua.

If he can keep this up through the rest of the season and go deeper into the playoffs with a consistent command of the meta aspects of the games, he’ll turn my opinion to the positive. He has a lot of bad history to erase, but there’s FINALLY a chance.


The Texans have utilized great offensive game plans for back-to-back weeks. Pressuring a perplexed Falcons secondary with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller in route combinations and stacked formations was perfect; it opened Fuller up for a historic day while Hopkins was football good. Last week, the Texans used a balanced attack to brutalize the Chiefs’ linebackers and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.

It’s still just two weeks. Yes, I know they played well against a good New Orleans front, but we have five years before all of that, of listless, bland, run heavy do-just-enough football. Sure, the quarterbacks O’Brien had (and selected) before Deshaun Watson were awful. The offensive line was bad, but that doesn’t completely separate today from then. The team still has performances it should never have (e.g., Jacksonville, Carolina) with the offensive talent it has.

It seems like O’Brien has learned some things. It still isn’t enough, though. There needs to be more of it. The football still outweighs the feather.


For me, it’s an easy yes-no question. Has O’Brien learned to stop making the same stupid mistakes? The answer isn’t quite so clear. We’ve gone two games without a terrible challenge, an awful game changing play called in a key moment, or an incessant need to run the ball thru the A-Gap on every play except third and long...where we call the draw play.

That shows promise.

Two things I think O’Brien needs to do to show he’s growing:

A) Face his “father” in true Luke Skywalker fashion and defeat the Dark Lord of the AFC (Bill Belichick, for those who don’t know Star Wars or the New England Patriots).

B) Get the Texans to the AFC Championship game in a convincing manner. I’m not asking for Super Bowl or bust, but at least prove to the fans that you didn't ride a weak schedule or dominate a weak division to leverage a playoff spot only to be severely outcoached when you got there.

Make that happen, and I’ll be a true believer. Until then. I stick with the assessment that O’Brien is simply an average coach.


If O’Brien calls plays like this for the next four weeks, I’ll buy that he has changed. The gotcha is that he was in this space in 2017, and he went right back to his derp-tastic plan in 2018. This year, he was in full 2018 mode the first couple of games. Remember: this is the same coach who thought that Tom Savage should start over Deshaun Watson.

With Watson at the helm, this offense is poised to score a lot of points if BOB keeps it up. Finally. It’s been sitting there for three solid years.

Kenneth L.:

I’ve always kinda been a believer in BOB, but he has gotten in his own way. Obviously, he has talents, but there are no checks in place for his weaknesses. Everyone has to have balance, but BOB has rolled over the organization to the point where we will ride or die with his decisions.

I’ll believe in his growth if he lets someone else call the plays. Delegation with continued success.


I judge Bill O’Brien as a middle-of-the-pack head coach. I think the biggest problem with him is that his teams often come out flat and unprepared. In years past, the offense has been predictable. Deshaun Watson has changed a lot of the criticisms about O’Brien. He’s one of those rare talents that can alter and transform and offense. O’Brien is reaping the rewards of that.

In order for me to feel secure about O’Brien, I need to see him beat a top-level coach and team in a big, high-pressure game. This most likely would be a playoff game. I need to see that O’Brien either has the team prepared and an effective game plan rolling or that he is making legitimate adjustments that will alter the outcome of the game.

Time for you to weigh in and answer the question: What will it take to get you to believe O’Brien is the coach Houston needs?