By HCR Staff | Jan. 13, 2020
We don’t take any joy in writing this, and we certainly didn’t take any joy in watching it. At HCR, we want to watch good football, and head coaches showing off their strategic chops.
But the effort by Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has to be called out. In our view, his decision-making amounted to coaching malpractice–if he were a surgeon, his license would be pulled pronto.
The Texans jumped out to a quick, first quarter 24-0 lead at KC, silencing the entire Arrowhead Stadium crowd. That’s a hard thing to do, but O’Brien’s squad managed to do it.
At this juncture, O’Brien has achieved head coach nirvana–he’s in control of the momentum and his team’s confidence level is sky high. Momentum and confidence are the keys to every game, and when you have it, Rule Number One is to not affirmatively do anything to screw that up.
In short, as a head coach, you should never make a decision that harms your own team. Pretty simple, right?
Apparently, it isn’t that simple.
Ahead 24-7 early into the second quarter, and facing a 4th and 4 from his own 31, O’Brien approved a fake punt call. Generally, teams that are in control of momentum and confidence don’t pull fake punts deep in their own end because it can cause a loss of momentum and confidence. In O’Brien’s universe, however, momentum and confidence apparently have no value.
The fake punt failed. The momentum shifted, the Texans lost confidence, and proceeded to give up 34 more unanswered points from that point on.
Bill O’Brien turned a 24-7 lead, into an historic Texans loss. The Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to trail by more than 20 points and win by more than 20 in playoff history.
None of that is possible unless there is egregious human error.
We really don’t try to be hard on coaches, but we can only call it as we see it. If Bill O’Brien were the owner of the Texans, and he had to watch his head coach make this decision, we’re pretty sure O’Brien would feel the same way we do.
After the game, O’Brien said that while a 24-0 lead was good, he felt it would not be good enough against the high powered Chiefs.
We don’t buy that. That was spin. He just blew it.
He harmed his own team. Punting in that situation wasn’t even a tough call.
He made a ludicrously poor decision that no amount of spin can cover.