Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien Is At A Crossroads

Texans are left to figure out what’s left to get over the hump

Brandon Scott
January 14, 2020 - 2:31 pm

Patience with Bill O’Brien is wearing thin.

That’s putting it delicately. 

A lot of Texans fans want him gone after the way their season ended Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

You might remember, the Texans had a 24-0 lead in the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Round before the Chiefs came roaring back to take a 28-24 halftime lead. 

The way Houston imploded in the second quarter and the decisions O’Brien made don’t just raise questions. 

It demands answers.

Related: Pendergast: Texans Handled Prosperity Worse As Season Went On

When O’Brien was asked Monday what he thought he needed to improve on as a coach, O’Brien had this to say:

“That's what this process is all about. I think we're going to work here for a while, I'm going to take some time off, and those are things that I'm going to really think about – what we can do better, what I can do better, what we can do better as a coaching staff, what I can do better. We’ll work hard to try to improve in a lot of areas, but I wouldn't be able to answer that specifically right now. I’ve got to really put more thought into that.”

Hopefully, O’Brien puts more thought into it than he did when Jadeveon Clowney was traded to Seattle. 

The Texans pass rush suffered because of it. 

Hopefully, O’Brien puts more thought into it than he did when safety Justin Reid was called to run on a fake punt, which helped the Chiefs in their historic comeback.

O’Brien has a lot on his plate as the head coach, de facto offensive coordinator and general manager. He balks at the characterization that he has “control” over personnel, but he’s certainly been the face of every move the Texans have made since firing general manager Brian Gaine last June. 

The Clowney trade; giving up two first-round picks, plus a second-rounder for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills; revamping the secondary by acquiring two former first-round cornerbacks during the season -- all of it is linked to O’Brien for better or worse.

The Texans finally won a notable playoff game in the O’Brien era by beating the Buffalo Bills in dramatic fashion.

All of the good will garnered in that is gone after Sunday’s collapse. 

Now, the Texans are left to figure out what’s left to get over the hump. 

They have a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson. He’s surrounded with weapons led by DeAndre Hopkins and the offensive line (in large part thanks to O’Brien) is much improved.

The defense still needs a pass rush outside of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Do they have the coach to get it done?

O'Brien said he has people around him who do not shy away from telling him the truth.

The truth is while the Texans have been successful by a lot of metrics, O'Brien has underperformed as a head coach. 

For the entire 2020 season, we will be reminded this team is maxing out at AFC South titles and wild card round victories.

Meanwhile, every other AFC South team has made a conference championship appearance since O'Brien was hired, including his own former defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.

O'Brien wants the fans to know the team's working hard, with a really good culture, group of core players and a bright future. 

He might be right about that. 

But to realize that potential, it's going to take some his own introspection and improvement from the sideline.

Get better, or get gone.

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