The Houston Texans Should Have Fired Bill O'Brien Months Ago

Ryan Phillips
Minnesota Vikings v Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings v Houston Texans / Bob Levey/Getty Images
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Bill O'Brien was fired on Monday as the Houston Texans finally cut him loose after an 0-4 start. O'Brien was in his seventh year with the franchise and had been entrusted with enormous power as head coach and general manager. He wasn't good at either job. In fact, the Texans should have cut him loose after last season.

O'Brien had an incredibly talented team at his disposal since taking over as Houston's head coach in 2014 and he wasted every opportunity to make a deep playoff run. He reached the postseason four times in his seven seasons and never got the Texans past the Divisional Round. He was 2-4 in the postseason overall. He also made some puzzling moves and oversaw a number of terrible losses.

The most egregious loss of his tenure came this past January. O'Brien's squad took a 24-0 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter during the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Then he stood there and watched as the Chiefs outscored his squad 51-7 over the rest of the game. It was so bad that Kansas City actually led 28-24 at halftime, as they reeled off 18 points in just more than nine minutes of game time to close the half. He should have been fired before he left the field.

The Texans allowed O'Brien to begin acting as their de facto general manager in the 2019 offseason. Since then he's made some wild trades that made very little sense. In 2019, he shipped two first-round picks and a second-rounder to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and a fourth-rounder. That's an insane haul to give up, even if Tunsil has been a good left tackle. He also handed Tunsil a massive extension that made him the highest-paid left tackle in football.

Less than a year after doing that, he refused to give DeAndre Hopkins a contract extension and traded him. The deal was universally condemned as he sent Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a second-round pick, a fourth-rounder and David Johnson. Yes, he traded one of the best receivers in football and failed to get a first-rounder in return.

O'Brien clearly didn't learn anything from former boss Bill Belichick about stacking draft assets. He treated his picks with disdain, repeatedly shipping them out for lesser talent. He traded a third-rounder for middling running back Duke Johnson and spent another third-rounder on cornerback Gareon Conley. Neither guy has made much of an impact.

He also stuck the Texans with overpaying Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb who were both added over the offseason.

During his tenure, O'Brien had so many All-Pro caliber talents at his disposal and he failed to capitalize. J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney, Tunsil, Duane Brown and Deshaun Watson all had outstanding seasons playing for him, yet he couldn't guide all that talent to the next step in the postseason. His coaching record with the franchise is a disappointing 52-48 (.520). That's all he could muster with that much talent around him in years where his AFC South competition has been largely awful.

O'Brien's firing should have happened a long time ago. Now the Texans are without their former All-Pro receiver and won't pick until the third-round of the 2021 NFL Draft. So O'Brien hamstrung his successor's ability to improve the roster. He truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

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