By HCR Staff | October 6, 2020
Four AFC South division titles in six years is pretty darn good, so why did Houston Texans owner Cal McNair terminate head coach Bill O’Brien?
We’ve got 3 good reasons.
Reason #1 – “Billy O” Is A Hothead. While his nickname gives off the vibe that he’s a genial and jolly Irishman, O’Brien actually is, in our view, a hotheaded drama queen. And it’s always the same angle with him – drama created around his anger to show that he’s the man, he’s in charge and he has no problem publicly trying to display and exert his dominion over you. Years ago, he had a nationally televised sideline ‘blowup’ with Patriots QB Tom Brady. That episode made O’Brien, and we suspect, he knew it.
The narrative was that he’s a fiery coach and unafraid to check the superstars. The narrative worked for him, and resulted in head coaching opportunities. The biggest problem with this approach is that he simply wears people out. Coming in day after day to a facility to work with that type of personality is exhausting, and the atmosphere that’s created simply drains the life out of people. Football is hard enough, but it’s far too much to add emotional instability to the mix. If you win big, it’ll be tolerated, but if you don’t, and simply hang around under the .500 basket all day, it won’t.
Reason #2 – The Offensive Xs & Os From O’Brien Were Overrated. O’Brien worked with Patriots QB Tom Brady, and the narrative has been that O’Brien was responsible for the Patriots’ magic on offense during his tenure. Ok, let’s assume that’s true for the sake of discussion. So what of the Texans then? From where we sit, the Texans’ offense was to sit back and watch QB Deshaun Watson do something magical – no real innovation with the Xs & Os from O’Brien. No one would call what the Texans put out there on offense ‘surgical.’
When one compares what we’re seeing with Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur, against what we see from the Texans, the difference is dramatic. Watch how the Rams and Packers approach the line of scrimmage on offense, and then watch the Texans. It’s night and day – the Texans don’t play with any consistent pace or rhythm. Instead, it’s organized helter skelter.
Here’s another example: watch Matt Rhule’s Carolina Panthers. Again, greater discipline, attention to detail. O’Brien simply was being left behind from a coaching standpoint.
Reason #3 – He Was A Lousy GM. Every head coach likes authority, and we get it: if they’re responsible for the ultimate product, perhaps they should also be in charge of the entire process. Plus, O’Brien was a reasonably successful college head coach, where he was responsible for the entire process. At the NFL level, however, O’Brien simply got over his skis as a GM; he simply didn’t have the feel or experience for the role. Prudence would have had him bring in an experienced former GM to guide him – instead, he brought in a former team chaplain. That’s just ludicrous (and owner Cal McNair deserves plenty of blame here for allowing it to happen).
Now the Texans are left with some massive contracts they can’t get out of for a while, and no draft capital. The current roster lacks dynamic players as well. This one’s a long rebuild, and that’s not even taking into consideration the issue of what to do with the former team chaplain that O’Brien’s left behind.
Bill O’Brien will re-surface, as his 4 division titles have some currency. But if he’s going to be successful again, he’s going to have to make some adjustments to his own process. O’Brien’s no dummy, so we think he can rehabilitate himself and have success in the future.