The Houston Texans have started this season by losing four straight games. Coming off a season in which they not only advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs, but had a 24-point lead over the eventual Super Bowl champs in Kansas City, hopes were high. But Houston has simply not gotten it done in 2020 so far, and things aren't about to get any better, either.
See, the Texans are currently on pace for a 4-12 season that would probably have them selecting top-five in this year's draft. Which can be a good thing! But Bill O'Brien, in all his wisdom, traded the team's first and second-round pick this year for Miami Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil in summer 2019. It was a win-now move that represented the team's only path to immediately improve their offensive line and keep Watson on his feet. It worked out, to an extent; Tunsil has been as good as advertised and Watson doesn't have to worry about his blindside too much anymore.
But giving up that much draft capital means the team cannot afford to be bad. Such is the trade-off for a win-now move. If no winning is done right now, it was all for naught. In 2020, that's been the case. The Texans are looking at a very bad season with no payout at the end of it, only unhappy players and fans. And it's all on O'Brien.
Not only did he put his team at a disadvantage by trading all those picks, he also shot his team in the foot before the year began by trading DeAndre Hopkins. From all reports, Hopkins didn't seem to get along famously with O'Brien and wanted a big raise. But when your team is in win-now mode, you figure that out. O'Brien decided it could not be figured out and traded Hopkins, a top-five receiver in the league, for a fourth-round pick and David Johnson.
How has that worked out? Well, Hopkins has 41 catches in four games for the Arizona Cardinals and is comfortably on pace to shatter the league's single-season reception record. Johnson is averaging less than four yards per carry, has notched two touchdowns in four games, and caught all of nine passes. It does not take a genius to connect the dots and prove there may be some correlation between trading an All-Pro wide receiver for an average running back and losing football games.
Adam Gase and Matt Patricia are two of the worst coaches in the NFL, but at least they didn't trade their team's future away while bringing them down on a weekly basis. That's exactly what O'Brien has done. Whatever he's doing on the sideline isn't working and there's no light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a high draft pick.
O'Brien has been at the helm of this organization for six years. Any benefit of the doubt is far past the expiration date. The team he put together is bad despite the presence of an elite quarterback and what he gave up to put this team together will hamstring them in the immediate and long-term future.
Things sounded like they were falling apart for O'Brien this week, and that was before he lost to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The clock feels like it's winding down on the Bill O'Brien era in Houston, but the mistakes his presence brought will be felt for years to come.