Bill O’Brien is panicking. He should be. Not that I believe his job is immediately on the line or anything-- we’re probably stuck with his moribund, iced milk (vanilla is too spicy) coaching for the entirety of next season—but 2019 is not shaping up to look good for the Houston Texans. BOB must know it.
After all, the 2018 results were a fluke. In large part because of their schedule, the Texans managed to play many teams who are still becoming familiar with the concept of the “forward pass.” Heck, our schedule looked almost exactly like the bottom 10 of Football Outsiders’ DVOA offensive pass rankings: Buffalo, Jacksonville twice, Washington, New York Jets, Miami, Dallas, BE-SFs twice, and Denver. That’s 10 games of passing trash, which means those teams had to run the ball to be successful. The Texans posted the seventh best defensive Rush DVOA since 1986. If you couldn’t throw the ball against the Texans, you were going to lose because our run defense was truly historically elite.
2019 ain’t gonna be like that. The Texans will need to score a lot of points to win, and this means keeping Deshaun Watson clean.
Yes, the next part is speculative. I’m ever so very sorry it doesn’t include not signing Jadeveon Clowney or having an affair with Rhonda Kubiak or aliens who stole Brian Gaine’s phone then sexted Tim or any other asinine theory. If a General Manager just had the best draft class in NFL history, he isn’t going to be fired for “being a personnel man more than a GM.” The mountain property in Conroe is still available for those interested if you remain willing to buy the Texans’ PR line. I mean, seriously, since when do we buy the misinformation from PR?
Brian Gaine terribly mismanaged the Texans’ offseason. It was a disasterclusterkitten. I had no strong opinion of Gaine heading into the postseason—in fact, I was pretty bullish on him!—but the offseason was a train wreck slamming into a dumpster fire. Gaine had one job this off-season: Protect Watson. He failed. Miserably.
Brian Gaine was fired for being a terrible GM. Period.
It’s my belief that, at some point during OTAs, BOB noted Gaine’s failures. Rookie tackles rarely don’t struggle, so that’s not a surprise. Perhaps, considering how both Tytus Howard and Max Scharping are both projects, it was even worse than expected. If you’re old enough to remember how terrible Duane Brown was his rookie season, and he was a fantastic prospect, it’s even easier to imagine Howard and Scharping having a rough go.
One thing BOB does not do is accountability. Ever. Additionally, BOB has a history of dissing sycophants to distract—George Godsey, Sean Ryan, and now Brian Gaine, at a minimum.
BOB, probably hand in hand with Jack Easterby, goes to Cal McFailson, rats on Gaine, and poof, Gaine is gone. Ultimately, it’s probably best for the team, considering Gaine’s incompetence, so...winning?
Then, of course, we have the Nick Caserio melodrama. If there is one thing BOB is good at, and it really is just one thing, it’s being a drama queen.
The Texans’ 2019 schedule is the polar opposite of 2018. Instead of playing a bunch of teams that can’t throw the ball, we play QBs like Drew Brees, Nick Foles twice, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck twice, and Tom Brady.
Oh, you chuckle at Nick Foles? QBs only had to be Nick Foles good to beat the Texans in 2018.
BOB’s entire track record of success is based upon the defense doing the heavy lifting, and 2018 was the cherry on top of that trend. In 2019, BOB’s offense will have to put up points—a lot of them—and his best Offensive DVOA in five years with the Texans is 21st. As a head coach, BOB has relied on punching down to be successful, as he can only beat the league’s trash. BOB is 16-31 (.340) against .500 and better teams in his career. Punching down is not an option in 2019.
The 2019 Texans, to me, look like a five (5) or six (6) win team. The offensive line play may be even worse than it was in 2018. We will not be able to stop the pass. BOB will again handcuff Watson, committing to establishing the run first at all costs. This is not a recipe for success.
Even BOB, for all his arrogance and hubris, must recognize this. This is why I believe that BOB tattled on Gaine to Cal in a move to stay a step ahead to save his job. In the process, BOB accidentally consolidated power, thanks to the Caserio hilarity, a move which should backfire. Who is BOB going to blame next time? Perhaps Cal will be able to see through such silliness. Having a GM from after OTAs until the next offseason begins is more important than having a left tackle that doesn’t suck. Who knew?
At some point, Bill O’Brien must be held accountable for his lack of success leading a team teeming with quality. The roster is top heavy with talent (and a good GM makes moves on the margin during the season, but we don’t need one, natch), sure, but BOB and a succession of offensive line coaches have failed terribly to develop quality there. After this offseason and the disappointments therein, along with a likely losing season in 2019, I hope it will finally be the end of Zombie Marvin Lewis Bill O’Brien.