Bill O’Brien was a terrible head coach in Houston. The people who pined for him were wrong. The people who thought he shouldn’t have been fired were wrong. The people who thought Houston’s quarterback problems weren’t because of him were wrong. Everyone in his corner were wrong the entire time. O’Brien won a bad division with a talented team year after year and flailed spectacularly in the NFL Playoffs. Houston had a positive offensive DVOA just one season with O’Brien as the head coach, a whopping 0.2%, despite having Deshaun Watson at quarterback. To make things exponentially worse, the decisions O’Brien made as a general manager were disastrous, and the Texans will be dealing with the aftermath of those terrible moves for the foreseeable future.
Was O’Brien insane? Was he incompetent? Did he have something else up his sleeve? ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham has a book titled It’s Better to Be Feared about the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick during their two decade dynasty coming out on on October 12th. In it there are some nuggets on former Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. Stuff like:
Bill O’Brien told a colleague he tried to get fired as coach of the Houston Texans because he thought he might be able to succeed Belichick, the book says. Belichick and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had a much closer relationship than previously known and once met secretly in a New England airplane hangar to discuss rule changes — even as aides unsuccessfully pleaded with Goodell to drop the Deflategate inquiry, worried about the long-term damage to the league brand.
Ultimately, according to the book, Kraft, Brady and a few others discussed scenarios about who would replace Belichick. If offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left after the season to be a head coach elsewhere, New England could hire O’Brien and he could perhaps one day succeed Belichick.
“The plan was fanciful,” Wickersham writes, “but O’Brien heard about it. He was in a power struggle of his own in Houston, fighting with general manager Rick Smith, a ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘toxic’ situation, according to the Houston Chronicle. The leaks from O’Brien’s camp, claiming he wanted out, were so aggressive as to be suspicious, as if he knew he had a golden parachute. In the end, though, the [Texans] chose O’Brien over Smith, giving the coach more control over football operations. O’Brien later joked to a confidant that it was a somewhat empty victory. ‘I was trying to get fired,’ he said.”
This sounds like a cover-up. An attempt at masking the hideous and the heinous that piled up season after season. That being said, “I was trying to get fired” is the only way you could defend the Laremy Tunsil trade, or the Jadeveon Clowney trade, or the DeAndre Hopkins trade, or the repetitive and stagnant offensive scheme O’Brien ran year after year.
O’Brien is George Costanza now. Cool. Got it?