15. Hiring of Bill O’Brien as head coach
After purging the coaching staff in 2013 the Texans needed a new head coach. While plenty of teams like to hire re-treads that failed as a head coach elsewhere in the NFL, Houston had shown they were willing to take a chance on new coaches with something to prove.
They did so when they hired Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to be the coach in 2006. Again in 2014 it came as no shock that the Texans took a chance on someone by bringing in the head coach at Penn State, Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien gained popularity for his work with the New England Patriots as their quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. He then showed his willingness to take on any situation as he took the job coaching the Nittany Lions despite their extreme sanctions following the awful results of the crimes committed by former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky.
Bowl limitations, scholarship reductions and even a rule allowing players to leave and not have to sit out a year were some of the factors working against O’Brien. Still, he managed to coach the football team to back-to-back winning seasons of 8-4 and 7-5 in his two collegiate seasons.
For his work he won the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, the Maxwell Coach of the Year award and the AT&T-ESPN Coach of the Year award in 2012.
O’Brien took over the Texans in 2014 and changed the culture of the team immediately. The team improved from 2-14 to 9-7 in just one year under the rookie coach. In 2015, despite a tough 3-5 start, there is still the feeling that O’Brien can turn things around and get Houston into a race for the AFC South title as they are only a half game back from the division leading Indianapolis Colts.
Next: Moment in history, number 14