By HCR Staff | Aug. 31, 2018
Between now and the start of the 2018 season, Head Coach Ranking will provide a scouting report on all 32 NFL head coaches. Today, we’ll take a look at Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien.
Bill O’Brien must have had one of the more trying years for any head coach last season. We would bet that back in March 2017, O’Brien was looking at his player roster and thinking to himself that he might have a Super Bowl contender. That would not have been very far off base; after all, he was looking at a roster stocked with elite physical talent.
Shortly after Halloween, though, any hopes O’Brien had for the season vanished. The Texans already had lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Duane Brown forced a trade. Brian Cushing had been suspended. And then, spectacular rookie QB DeShaun Watson tore an ACL. The Texans also lost other key player, such as CB Kevin Johnson, for stretches.
O’Brien ultimately suffered his first losing season as Texans head coach.
O’Brien is a solid head coach poised to contend this year. All of his best players return, and before Watson had gotten hurt, O’Brien was well on his way to developing the NFL’s next superstar QB. O’Brien showed great judgment in opening up and modifying his offense for Watson, and for a period of time, Watson actually was an MVP candidate.
O’Brien’s years with the Patriots have served him well as head coach. He is a confident and sure leader, and the Texans play the situational game well, particularly on defense. His years spent taking over the program at Penn State also were invaluable; he showed great poise in turning around a program that had endured its worst crisis ever. O’Brien’s a steady hand and he’s not one prone to proclamations or stunts.
In our view, O’Brien offers the Texans an edge in the much more competitive AFC South. We are sure he views 2017 as an aberration, and he will have the Texans well prepared for their 2018 campaign. The opener versus the Patriots offers one of the more intriguing coaching matchups of the year, as O’Brien and former Patriots DC Romeo Crennel team up against their former mentor, Bill Belichick. Last season, the Texans lost by three points in a thriller and we expect another highly competitive contest this season.
Previous HC Previews:
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
Pat Shurmr, New York Giants
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders
Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars