Was Bill O’Brien’s apprenticeship under Bill Belichick a one way ticket to both his and the Houston Texans failure? House of Houston’s Andrew Elderbaum says yes.
Houston Texans‘ fans — there are concurrent stories running today about DeAndre Hopkins relationship, or lack thereof, with Bill O’Brien and several Lions with Matt Patricia. There are eerie similarities between them, with players feeling disrespected and looked down upon by their coaches. It all begs a larger question about the fruits of Bill Belichick’s coaching tree and whether or not they can be successful.
Now Bill O’Brien has had much more success than Patricia, McDaniels, Crennell, and the rest of the ex-Pats, but none of them felt the need to invoke a convicted murderer as a comp for his best player. O’Brien didn’t trade three picks to draft Tim Tebow in the first round, but he did give away most of his draft picks and best player in a deal so bad noone could believe it as it happened. I think it was Dickens who wrote “it wasn’t the best of times but it could have been worse times.”
The common thread between all these failures is an arrogance and loss of players respect eventually. For some, like Patricia, it was immediate. Eric Mangini actually seemed capable for a few seasons before totally imploding. Bill O’Brien seems to be walking a tight rope balancing his negatives with wins, but this offseason may be the banana peel that takes him down.
The trades speak for themselves when building a case for mismanagement, but that’s only part
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of the story. There have been many coaches who wanted total control of the roster and then crapped the bed. Coincidentally or not, this also is a trait of most Belichick disciples. Unfortunately, none seem to have learned his roster mastery and usually end up leaving the team in shambles.
The bigger issue starting to rear its head for Bill O’Brien is the rumblings of him being miserable to play for. The Hopkins conversations (comparing him to Aaron Hernandez, commenting on his children and their mothers, former players advising free agents to stay away. When you couple this with poor personnel acumen it’s usually the death knell for a coach.
So if O’Brien is the most successful of Bill Belichick’s proteges it just provides a more solid case that his style of coaching can’t be passed on. O’Brien has won some division titles and a few playoff games, but his need for control and final say along with his poor communications skills (all Belichick staples) will ultimately be his downfall.
In fact, you can trace the beginning of the teams slide to O’Brien wresting control of the program away from the front office.
Essentially Bill Belichick’s coaching tree provides great tacticians, excellent coordinators who just can’t make that last leap. The Houston Texans have gotten more from their particular fruit than most, but in the end still suffered a bitter taste from something that rotted quickly.