clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bill O’Brien’s Crimes Against Football

O’Brien may be gone, but the horrendous decisions he made will affect this franchise for years to come.

New England Patriots v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

At this point, it’s clear that, not only was Bill O’Brien incredibly incompetent, he was equally as gullible. That he was able to fail up into the general manager position tells you more about Failson Cal McNair than it does anybody else. Of course, the Texans’ Rasputin, Jack Easterby, deserves plenty of blame. For now, we’re not here for that. This post is all about BOB, the man who might be the least valuable person in the history of the NFL.

For starters, nothing substantively changed from this post in 2017. I do sincerely wish the comments would have survived the test of time Coral, but I’m told they will be back eventually. The first comment dismissed the post because I did not name a replacement, which, of course, was not at all the point. However, my opinions that BOB was a Drama Queen, that he couldn’t beat good teams and only punched down, and that his offensive scheme was incredibly poor remained true until he was canned.

BOB should have never received a new contract in 2018. Those who paid attention knew what we had in BOB back then, but, alas, he was re-upped. 2018 was a complete and total defensive fluke; we only played a couple true NFL quality quarterbacks, and I doubt I need to remind anybody about the pathetic finish to 2019. If only the head coach and offensive coordinator had a play ready for a 4th down! Let’s look at BOB’s most egregious failures as a full accounting would fill a book.

Watson is not Tom Brady. Watson is not a pocket passer.

When you compare and contrast the way the other young quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray have been used, BOB forcing Watson to sit in the pocket is a crime against football. Over four years, and until Watson’s rookie contract had expired, BOB still tried to use Watson like he used Brady. This, alone, was a fireable offense.

The next offensive coordinator needs to understand Watson’s strengths far better than BOB ever did. Get Watson out of the pocket. Change throwing lanes. Let Watson throw on the run. Let. Watson. Cook. When you sit a talent like Watson in the pocket, he’s not cooking. He’s molding. Thus, to better protect Watson, BOB traded for Laremy Tunsil.

  • The Laremy Tunsil Trade

Thanks to Brian Gaine’s incredibly awful 2019 offseason, where it was so bad Gaine was fired in the same offseason, BOB felt it necessary to trade for Tunsil.

Let’s be clear here: Tunsil is a great, young left tackle. He is a cornerstone kind of guy. The problem is that we gave up far too much to acquire Tunsil, and this is coming back to haunt us something fierce.

And this trade never needed to happen.

BOB, again terribly misusing Deshaun Watson, cannot understand that, if you move Watson around, you can work with the weaknesses on your offensive line. Additionally, Mike Devlin, a BOB hire, has been a nightmare since the day he arrived. Dump Devlin, use Watson as he should be, and you never need to make this trade. What is going to extend our rebuilding phase is the fact we don’t have picks in the first two rounds in 2021.

  • The Jadeveon Clowney Trade

Look, I know some of y’all don’t like Clowney. He doesn’t produce counting numbers! Well, that’s not a great take. Clowney is still one of the best disrupters in the NFL today. He even ranks 19th by PFF this year.

Trading Clowney for what turned into Jacob Martin, “Big Play” Barkevious Mingo, and Gareon Conley was a massive net loss. Additionally, we traded Clowney at the absolute nadir of his value, after the time when he could have signed an extension with his new team.

I like Martin! I do! The problem is that he’s a rotational piece, not a starter. He gives you nothing against the run. Everything about the timing of this trade was incredibly frustrating and stupid.

  • Arian Foster, Lamar Miller, Alfred Blue, Carlos Hyde, David Johnson

The only position more misused by BOB than QB was running back. Foster, Miller, and Johnson are all zone running backs. Hyde is better built for a power scheme. Alfred Blue never had any business being on an NFL roster.

Yet BOB found it necessary to repeatedly slam Foster, Miller, and Johnson up the middle, abusing the A gap in new ways. Hyde actually managed to be marginally successful in his single year as the starter in Houston as the only RB capable of being more successful in a more power scheme.

Bill O’Brien, in his infinite wisdom, managed to give the ball to Alfred Blue 673 times over five (5) years at 3.6 y/a. Alfred Blue. 673 carries. Alfred Blue.

BOB treated RB like every player under his reign like he had Christian Okoye. Never, after more than six (6) years, did BOB ever realize there’s more to running the ball than hitting the A-gap.

Especially worse, BOB was caught in the 1970s mindset that you need to establish the run to be effective in the passing game. This silliness was disproved 20 years ago, yet BOB stuck to it. If there’s one thing you can say about BOB, it’s that he still thinks 1979 football is the way to go.

  • The Whitney Mercilus Extension

Mercilus is a fine player. He’s not bad. He’s not good. He’s fine. He’s averaged 7 sacks over a 16 game season over the course of his career. He’s only recorded eight (8) or more sacks once. Fine.

However, Mercilus turned 30 in the offseason. No fine player on the wrong side of 30 ever deserves a four-year, $53.5 million dollar extension with $28.5 million guaranteed. None. Anywhere.

What Mercilus is, in BOB’s eyes, is tough, smart, and dependable. What Mercilus is not is a player worth that contract. Worst of all, we were bidding against ourselves. Nobody else would have been close to offering that much money for a rotational player at this stage of his career.

I’m not necessarily picking on Mercilus. What I am showing here is that BOB doesn’t really care about if a player is actually good or not. Where BOB judges value is if a player is tough, smart, and dependable. Or, maybe if Jack Easterby retweets him. Other players that fall into this category are Nick Martin, the literal poster child for mediocre offensive line play who got $18.35 million guaranteed, and Ka’imi Fairbairn, who never earned the contract BOB ($9 million guaranteed!) dropped on him.

  • The DeAndre Hopkins Trade

Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio. The Herschel Walker trade. The Ricky Williams trade. The DeAndre Hopkins trade will forever be on this level of pure suck.

At its essence, BOB traded Hopkins for David Johnson and a second round pick. BOB traded a literal Hall of Fame WR for the Cardinals’ third best RB—maybe the 75th best RB in the league—and a second round pick.

Because Hopkins carries a murse. Because Hopkins has one too many baby mammas. Because, ultimately, BOB is gullible.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking this trade was about money. It was because BOB, in his infinite wisdom, did not believe that the best wide receiver in the league was tough, smart, and dependable. Hopkins did not fit BOB’s preconceived notion of how a football player is supposed to look and act. So he had to go.


Your Houston Texans will enter the 2021 season in a world of hurt. Somehow, BOB managed to bury this team in salary cap hell while not having its two first picks in the NFL Draft next year. With the way the Texans are playing, the Dolphins must be incredibly thrilled at their trade for Tunsil.

Offensively, the team heads into 2021 with massive holes, despite BOB’s naked willingness to sacrifice the defense to make the offense mediocre. Their is no longer a WR1 on the roster, just a bunch of guys who do the same thing. The Packers game was the first where Watson spread the ball to Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and Will Fuller, yet we still scored just 20 points. It’s amazing how much better Kyler Murray has been playing since DeAndre Hopkins showed up in Arizona. There is no young, decent ceiling RB on the roster.

The offensive line, aside from Tunsil and Tytus Howard (at RT, not LT, where he was drafted to play), is in shambles. Max Scharping has been terrible this year, Martin is still not good. Zach Fulton hasn’t been good. A big problem is Devlin, of course; he should have been taken out with the garbage along with BOB.

Defensively? It’s a nightmare. J.J. Watt is still a terror, but he’s 31 and his career has been wasted by BOB. Jacob Martin is a rotational piece. Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Greenard have barely seen the field, but they’re both low-ceiling tough, smart, dependable players anyway.

My beloved Benardrick McKinney is likely a cap casualty, especially after the contract Zach Cunningham received (Cunningham, for the record, missed three tackles while I was typing this up). Bradley Roby is fine, but he’s a cornerback who turns 29 next year.

The only player on the defensive side of the ball, literally the only player, who is both young and has sky-high potential, is Justin Reid. That’s it.

The Texans didn’t have the money to pay guys like Duane Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney, and D.J. Reader, but we had plenty of money to pay the likes of Eric Murray, Whitney Mercilus, Randall Cobb, and David Johnson. Because the latter players, I reckon, are tough, smart, and dependable.

The Texans’ franchise is in a lot of trouble. Failson Cal certainly deserves plenty of blame. Ultimately, it was BOB’s show, though. BOB burned the Texans to the ground with his gross incompetence. Bill O’Brien should never coach at a level higher than Pop Warner again.