Cecil Shorts III: Texans' Play-Caller Tim Kelly Will Maximize Deshaun Watson

Some players wanted Kelly to call plays in 2019

In The Loop
February 28, 2020 - 3:11 pm

The announcement that second-year offensive coordinator Tim Kelly will call plays in 2020 has been met with some mixed reactions. 

Kelly offers fresh eyes and a new perspective on play-calling, but he's a Bill O'Brien protege. It's the play-calling by O'Brien that perhaps stagnated the Texans' offense at times. 

With O'Brien's influence over Kelly, what's to say things will be noticeably different between the two play-callers?

Former Texans wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, who played for the team in 2015 when Kelly was an offensive quality control coach, said he believes Kelly can maximize Deshaun Watson's talent. 

That's partly because of Kelly's knowledge, and also due to his strong relationship with Watson.

Cecil said Kelly had a hand in the Texans' 53-32 win at home against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 6, the Texans' most impressive offensive showing of the season. 

Texans players are excited about the ideas Kelly will bring to the offense and some of them have been wanting him to call plays since last season, Cecil said.

"They love this guy," Cecil told In The Loop. "His creativity, the thoughts that he brings, the ideas that he brings. They were limited last year because O’Brien didn’t let him be the full play-caller. O’Brien still had control over what was going on. But the guys, the players, the receivers, the quarterbacks, the offense, they love Tim Kelly. ...

"Secondly, the relationship he has with Deshaun Watson. When you’re an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, that has to be a relationship that has to work. That has to be a relationship that has trust. That has to be a relationship that knows each other and the OC has to put the quarterback in the best situation to succeed. 

"Earlier on in the year, the 50-point game against Atlanta. That was Tim Kelly. That was Tim Kelly’s hand in that week. That’s what was going on. Tim Kelly will put Deshaun in the best situation to succeed. Yes, it will still be a game plan offense because that’s what O’Brien wants. But there will be more of an identity from the offense, where (in 2019), I don’t know what the identity was. One week, they’ll look outstanding and the next week it’s like, ‘what the heck happened?'"

The biggest question is whether O'Brien will fully give up control to Kelly, a point Landry Locker made the day after the announcement.

"O’Brien has to let the reins off Kelly," Cecil said. "You have to just let him be. Your job as a head coach and general manager, that should take precedence over what you’re doing with the offense. With the offense, you tried and to be honest, you failed. You didn’t do well enough to keep that job and now you’ve added on the general manager job. So now you can’t even do the offense. It’s just too much, if that makes sense. 

"Just let (Tim Kelly) run the offense. Of course, you’ll have final say on a few details making sure everything is OK. You have to do that as a head coach. … But Tim Kelly should be able to install a game plan on Monday, Tuesday and present it on Wednesday and it just stays.

"O’Brien has to trust. If he doesn’t trust his guy, then why do you have him on staff? If you don’t trust your guy to get the job done, then get rid of him. But you can’t say he’s the (offensive coordinator) and still have the leash on him. You have to fully let him call plays."

Listen to the entire In the Loop interview with Cecil Shorts III here

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