The Houston Texans made it official by introducing Bill O’Brien as the third head coach in franchise history on Friday. O’Brien returns to the NFL after two seasons as the head coach at Penn St., where he inherited one of the most difficult situations any head coach could walk into. O’Brien was the man that Houston wanted from the jump, and owner Bob McNair showed just how much by paying Penn St. the $6.5 million buyout clause in his contract to get him.
This will be the first NFL head coaching job for the 44 year old O’Brien, who was the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots before going to Penn St. The Texans hit the jackpot with this hire, as O’Brien is the best available fit of any of the head coaching candidates that were available this offseason. It is known that they interviewed Lovie Smith, and former interim coach Wade Phillips among others. GM Rick Smith stated at the press conference that they also interviewed other candidates, but chose to keep that in house and private.
One of the main reasons why O’Brien was the perfect man for the Houston job is his work with quarterbacks. The Texans will in all likelihood spend a high draft pick on a quarterback in 2014. An offense that became very predictable and sputtered this past season needs a shot in the arm and a makeover. O’Brien will be able to implement his offensive system with a young quarterback and pair them with an offense that will have some nice pieces returning next season. Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and hopefully a healthy Arian Foster and Owen Daniels coming back from injuries provide a solid core for whoever will line up under center.
Perhaps the best reason why O’Brien is the best man for the Texans job is the change in attitude he will bring to the team. The Texans in 2013 were a mostly veteran team, who had won back to back AFC South titles, and were highly pegged as a Super Bowl contender. Perhaps a sense of complacency or comfort struck the team under the old regime. Of course, everything that could go wrong did this season, but it seemed as if the team didn’t have the same fire and hunger as they did in 2011.
That will change under O’Brien, who is widely known to be a demanding, in your face coach. Despite the Texans finishing with the worst record in the league at 2-14, O’Brien will be in position to succeed immediately. The challenge he faces to turn the Texans back around is miniscule compared to what he faced when he took the reins at Penn St. two years ago. O’Brien took over a program that basically was struck with sanctions one step away from the death penalty. He was able to keep them afloat and win despite being severely undermanned and limited in all aspects of a major college football program. That experience not only made him a better coach, it also will help him turnaround the Texans as well.
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