Bill O’Brien coached one of the most aggressive scoring offenses in NFL history as the Patriots offensive coordinator. Now he has the full reign of the playbook in Houston and could turn a conservative offense into a fireworks show.
The Houston Texans’ offense has ranked in the bottom five in just about every passing category since head coach Bill O’Brien got to town.
Despite O’Brien’s aggressive nature, the Texans’ offense has always been conservative. Often relying on the running game has aided in their offense developing into a top-five rushing team in the NFL, but also cost them some much needed explosiveness.
When the former Penn State head coach signed with the Texans, he brought some staff members with him–including George Godsey to serve as his offensive coordinator. That did not work out so well. Time will tell if it was purely on Godsey, as he has now moved on to the New York Jets.
Some of the lack of offense could have been a fundamental issue between O’Brien and Godsey. The latter seemed to emphasize a conservative offense built to run the clock out than score points.
That did not work. It got so bad that O’Brien took over the play calling himself in September of last year. Just a few weeks into the season O’Brien had enough.
That says two things.
For starters, there was a rift between the two coaches as to what the offense should look like. Second, it shows O’Brien’s nature and drive. He wants to win games. He also wants to score points.
With Godsey the Texans failed to do so. Attempting to alter an offensive mindset a quarter into the season is hard to do. It is even harder when you have a quarterback who does not fit your scheme like Brock Osweiler.
Last year is in the rear-view mirror now. Osweiler is gone. O’Brien has bet on himself as a coach and is set to call the plays for the entire year.
Enter in quarterbacks Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson under center and a rejuvenated O’Brien.
The entire Texans’ offense is under a change, and no one is talking about it.
O’Brien now has the whole offseason to implement his new style of offense and a very talented group to work with.
I recently wrote about the team’s absurd amount of talent at the offensive skilled positions and why that means the Texans’ offense could explode in 2017.
The Texans have all the talent in the world now.
O’Brien is an aggressive coach.
That is a fact. You could see that trait clearly at any point during the Texans time on HBO’s Hard Knocks. There was a not-safe-for-work section of the preseason where O’Brien calls a timeout just to express his anger with the speed of the offense you can see here. He makes it clear, he wants to run an up tempo offense.
However, O’Brien could only do so much with the offense as a head coach in prior years.
By taking over the offense, O’Brien now gets full control of that side of the ball and can coach the way he wants–aggressively.
The Texans drafted play-makers in wide receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, along with running back Tyler Ervin in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Houston has explosive play-makers, home-run hitters if you will. All they needed was a scheme to dial-up home run plays.
O’Brien will do that. In fact he has already started doing that during the Texans’ OTA’s.
John Harris of HoustonTexans.com published an article titled “21 observations from Texans OTAs.” He had this to say about the team’s passing attack on May 23:
"The quarterbacks had moments throughout the day, both good and bad. What I liked about all of the quarterbacks, though, was the fact that they didn’t just sit and take checkdowns all day long. There were some; don’t get me wrong, but all three quarterbacks threw the ball downfield, repeatedly."
The first day of offseason activities and that downfield aggressive play calling is showing.
As Harris mentioned, the Texans had the bad case of the check-downs in previous seasons. They failed to push the ball and they lacked the willingness to go for explosive plays at times when they should have. No longer will that be the case with O’Brien.
The Texans most likely won’t break the Denver Broncos’ record-setting 606 points scored in 2013. They may not even reach O’Brien’s Patriots mark of 557 points in 2012. The former averaging 37.9 points per game and the latter with 34.8 ppg.
The Texans will however, score far more points than the 279 they managed last season. Averaging a lackluster 17.4 points a game. They should be more in the 25 points per game range for a yearly estimate of roughly 400 points. The roughly 43 percent increase in points is a steep task, but very doable for an offense loaded with talent.
The Texans have the talent to shoot for the stars, and now they have a play caller with the willingness to do so.
Expect the Texans’ offense to put up a lot of points in 2017, and for O’Brien’s wager on himself to pay off.