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The Bill O’Brien All-Doghouse Team

Stuck between a chin and a hard place.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

One of the defining elements of the Bill O’Brien era was watching promising players become non-factors for the team for seemingly minor offenses. Whether due to on or off-the-field issues, a knock against the iron chin of Bill O’Brien would land players in the proverbial doghouse.

A tour of the the doghouse would take one through the storied history and subjugation of O’Brien which occurred throughout the seasons he was at the helm. The main residences of the doghouse were offensive weapons whose talent superseded their professionalism, at least in the media. Offenses that have landed players in the doghouse range from consistent injuries to lack of practice fervor to dog biting incidents to missing the team plane. Players who wouldn’t fall in line would fall out of favor with O’Brien overnight. Here are the top players at each position who have spent time in O’Brien’s doghouse.


QB: Ryan Mallett

RB: D’Onta Foreman

RB: Tyler Ervin

WR: Jaelen Strong

WR: Braxton Miller

SLOT: Keke Coutee

TE: Ryan Griffin

LT: Duane Brown

LG: Martinas Rankin

C: Ben Jones

RG: Brandin Brooks

RT: Brennan Williams

The receiver roster here is immense and could (and should) be it’s own article. Stills, Hopkins, Fuller, Mumphrey, Bonner, Vyncint Smith, and Nate Washington could all be mentioned above. Miller, Strong, and Coutee all take the top spot due to the neglect and career-ending defiance by O’Brien to give these players a chance.

Mallet takes the starting spot, barely nudging out [NAME REDACTED] in a competition similar to the one he endured in training camp. Mallet’s meltdown on Hard Knocks and missing the team plane are A1 Thick and Hearty O’Brien Doghouse material. No player foreshadows the O’Brien takeover more than the free agency and training camp circus with Mallet

On the offensive line, most of these players outright could not stand O’Brien and had public spats with the coach. O’Brien traded two of these players and cut the other three. The name you may not recall, Brennan Williams was a former third round pick who was released after an MRI on his knee, is infamous for following his true passion; WWE wrestling.


DE: Jadeveon Clowney

DE: Jeoffrey Pagan

DT: Ross Blacklock

NT: Louis Nix

LB: Sam Montgomery

LB: Reshard Cliett

LB: Barkevious Mingo

CB: Aaron Colvin

CB: Kevin Johnson

S: D.J. Swearinger

S: Tashaun Gipson

The OG member of the doghouse was D.J. Swearinger. The cocky and legitimately reckless safety was famous for his dog biting Jadeveon Clowney and breaking into a car dealership after not paying for his newly tricked out car. Speaking of Clowney, the initial injury concerns, salary negotiations, and offseason training confrontations marred the relationship between the first overall pick and coach.

Linebacker has had relatively few players in the doghouse. Between Brian Cushing, Zach Cunningham, and Benardrick McKinney, the team has had few players enter the fray and ire of O’Brien. Mingo deserves to be on this list strictly due to the Clowney trade fallout. Mingo barely played and is now out of the league entirely.

Secondary players appeared to hold a special place in the doghouse. It was a revolving door of semi-proven veterans and low-round draft picks who couldn’t supplant the Kareem Jackson-Jonathan Joseph tandem. I would include Tyrann Mathieu in this group, but his relationship with Romeo Crennel outweighed any gripes with O’Brien. Failed attempts to bring in talent such as Aaron Colvin and Tashaun Gipson led to the issues they have today in the secondary.

The last thing you’d call O’Brien was a “player’s coach”. The quantity and quality of talent here illustrates the astringent nature of O’Brien’s tenure in Houston.

Are there any players that were snubbed? Does it need more Osweiler?