Since midway through the 2016 season, the Houston Texans had head coach Bill O’Brien as the designated offensive coordinator.
On Tuesday, that changed as the Houston Texans revamped their coaching staff in hopes of taking the next step and continuing to build on their aspirations for a Super Bowl run in 2019. The most notable change came on offense. Tim Kelly finds himself to be the new offensive coordinator after serving as tight ends coach previously. While the 32-year-old doesn’t have experience at the position, he does have familiarity with Bill O’Brien and the Texans offense.
Kelly has been with O’Brien since he was a graduate assistant for Penn State in 2012-13. He followed O’Brien to Houston as the offensive quality control coach and was promoted to tight ends coach in 2017. Kelly’s only prior experience with an offense is with O’Brien and his playbook, meaning the scheme should look primarily the same as in years past, as the two most share similar philosophies.
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Hiring Carl Smith as the new quarterback’s coach might be the most significant hire of the day. Smith has spent 25 out of his 29 NFL seasons working with quarterbacks and is known for molding both Drew Bledsoe and Russell Wilson into quality quarterbacks. At 70 years of age, his extensive relationship with Pete Caroll dating back to USC and with the Seattle Seahawks, this was a surprising hire. The thought of coaching with his son Tracy Smith, who is the current Texans special teams assistant, could have played a big part in leaving the comfort of his job in Seattle to come to Houston.
Former Texans quarterback T.J. Yates will now look to transfer his football experience as a quarterback to the coaching scene as an offensive assistant. Oddly enough, the player he was once traded for from the Atlanta Falcons for Yates is now joining the staff as well, former inside linebacker Akeem Dent will be a defensive assistant for the Texans.
Former Texans Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Cushing was also announced as the assistant strength and conditioning coach. Cushing will now be working for new strength and conditioning coach Mike Eubanks, who was part of the Denver Broncos staff that won Super Bowl 50.
Former Bill O’Brien graduate assistant in Penn State, Will Lawing, will take over as the tight ends coach after having the role of an offensive assistant and assistant offensive line coach in 2017 and 18. Continuing the trend of change on the offensive staff, former 2018 Texans coaching intern John Aylward will be an offensive assistant in 2019.
Outside of Carl Smith, the new coaching changes have ties to O’Brien as former players or staff members. Considering O’Brien’s desire for consistency around Watson, promoting from within made sense. Adding an experienced offensive mind and quarterbacks coach in Carl Smith is an impressive hire and could pay dividends in Deshaun Watson’s development in the NFL.