The season for the Houston Texans has been disappointing. A year removed from making it to the AFC Divisional Playoffs, this season has been a complete letdown. However after three previous 9-7 seasons and missing the playoffs there are questions about Bill O’Brien’s job security. Even with how the season has unfolded it is best to give him one more chance.
After a questionable decision to start Tom Savage, O’Brien made the call to replace him with Deshaun Watson. The sensational rookie energized the Texans offense and brought the team to prominence. That is until his season-ending injury. After the injury to Watson the Texans season went off the rails. The offense was no longer able to keep up and put points on the board consistently. The decision to start Savage over Watson is really the only knock against keeping O’Brien as the Texans head coach.
In addition to the injury to Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus were also lost for the year. Their injuries essentially took the wind out of the Houston defense. Jadeveon Clowney is only able to do so much. The absences of Watt and Mercilus allowed opposing offenses to focus on keeping Clowney out of the backfield. This took away any legitimate pass rush and forced the secondary to cover much longer than they should have to. Injuries should never take blame away from a coach, however they happen. It is part of the game. Players get hurt and teams have to deal with it.
O’Brien is still not on the same page as general manager Rick Smith. Their relationship is rocky and many speculate this could lead O’Briens departure after the season. However it is worth noting that O’Brien was able to make the Texans offense nearly lethal when Watson was healthy. With how the team performed when all the pieces were active it is worth letting O’Brien finish out the last year of his contract. Even if that means moving on after next season.
It is entirely possible that with a fully healthy team that O’Brien brings the team back to the playoffs. As unlikely as it seems it is possible that a good season next year could warrant a contract extension for O’Brien.
The Texans were a competitive team even without some of their best players. O’Brien was able to scheme around the strengths of Watson and the potential debilitating absence of Duane Brown. This alone should give O’Brien the chance to coach the team next year and see how he adjusts to a team that actually has a competent quarterback who will start Week 1. Firing O’Brien after he was able to win games despite the adversity he faced is not the best idea.
O’Brien has shown in the past he is capable of leading the team to the playoffs and division crowns. It is hard to believe that he will not be able to do it again. Especially with a fully healthy and improved roster.
The Texans can return to prominence next season. It is possible they can take the leap many expected them to make this season. O’Brien knows this Texans team and this Texans team knows O’Brien. It is certainly worth giving O’Brien the chance to coach the Texans next season.