O'Brien's Game Management Again In Question

Texans HC Explains His Thought Process On Critical Decisions

September 10, 2018 - 5:22 pm

HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) – Bill O’Brien’s game management in week one against New England did not help silence the crowd of people that feel that is his biggest weakness as a head coach.

The first situation in question was O’Brien’s failure to call a timeout after Rob Gronkowski made a big gain in the Patriot’s first half two-minute drill.  Coaches cannot challenge a play in the final two minutes of a half, but many felt O’Brien should have called a timeout to allow more time for the replay officials to buzz down to the game officials to review the play.  Tom Brady hurried the line after the play, and the officials were not buzzed in time.

“When Gronkowski made the catch, upstairs, our guys said, ‘Hey look, I can’t really tell.’ It looked to me from the field that he made the catch. I don’t really have the benefit of nine different angles. The clock was running down, I basically wanted the Patriots to operate and see if they could do what they needed to do, relative to taking a timeout to allow New York more time to review. I very much realize that I can take a timeout there. I decided not to because I felt from my vantage point that it was a catch, and that’s what I went with.  Hindsight being 20/20, with the benefit of eight different angles and all those things, surely, I would have taken a timeout to see if they would at least buzz down to take a look at the play. But, they didn’t, and I didn’t do that,” O’Brien told the media on Monday.

With 9:52 left in the third quarter, and the Texans trailing 21-6, O’Brien elected to try and convert a 4th & 5 at the New England 17-yard line, instead of kicking the field goal.  Deshaun Watson missed a wide-open Ryan Griffin for what would have been a touchdown, but the Texans turned it over on downs. 

On the next possession, New England made a field goal, and then the Texans followed it up with a touchdown to trim the deficit to 24-13.  If the Texans had made the field goal that O’Brien elected not to try, the Texans would have been one possession down instead of two with 1:52 left in the third quarter.

Then with 4:32 left in the fourth quarter at his own 36-yard line, and his team down by 14 points, O’Brien elected to punt the ball on fourth down. 

“Where the ball was at that point in time, how our defense was playing at that point in time, timeouts left – that was a tough decision,” O’Brien added.

The Texans got lucky as Patriot return man Riley McCarron muffed the punt, the Texans recovered and then scored six plays later to bring the deficit down to one.  Although the Texans found the end zone, it took them 2:24 to move 16 yards when time was of the essence.


“The pace wasn’t very good yesterday,” O’Brien said.  “So, I’ve got to get better with the pace. That’s on me.”