Houston Texans: After Bill O’Brien firing what’s next for 2020?
The Houston Texans fired Bill O’Brien, but what do they do next?
So where do the Houston Texans go from here after firing head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien? With 12 regular season games remaining and no wins since Jan. 4, 2020 in the Wild Card round, the playoffs and the three-peat as AFC South champions appear to be out of reach this season.
Even more troubling, the Houston Texans have the highest total payroll in the NFL at an astounding $255 million and do not have a pick in the first or second round of the 2021 NFL Draft due to the Laremy Tunsil trade with the Miami Dolphins.
Having quarterback Deshaun Watson on the roster automatically makes this team a desirable destination for prospective head coaches, yet the mess that Bill O’Brien left looms large on the future of this team.
High salaries for underperforming players, including David Johnson and Brandin Cooks, hamper the ability of the team to make waves in free agency, and Watson’s mega-contract is absolutely deserved, but restricts them for the next half decade and beyond.
What options does that leave the Texans moving forward, and in the short term what are the expectations for the rest of this season?
After the quarter-point in the 2020 season, the Houston Texans offense is rated 15th league-wide with a 74.8 grade and 29th defensively at a 47.4 mark (per Pro Football Focus). The opening four games were by far the hardest stretch of the year and all six AFC South games remain, with consecutive bouts against Jacksonville and Tennessee upcoming.
Outside of the division, the most difficult games will come against Green Bay, New England, and Chicago, but it’s not unreasonable to say there are eight winnable games left this season. With an extra Wild Card spot added to the NFL playoffs, could an 8-8 or 9-7 record help Houston squeeze into the seventh seed?
Houston Texans News: Can they make a playoff push?
Looking at the current level of effort for the Houston Texans, it doesn’t appear likely that this team will make a late playoff push. Since a breakout Week 1 performance, former All-Pro David Johnson has averaged a measly 3.0 yards per carry and just one touchdown.
Brandin Cooks was the favorite to emerge as the new WR1 for the team (after O’Brien traded DeAndre Hopkins this past offseason) but laid an egg against Minnesota with zero catches on three targets.
The offensive line, which has the NFL’s eighth highest cap hit in 2020, has underperformed and continues to allow constant pressure against Deshaun Watson, though some of the pressures are Watson’s fault. Max Scharping is graded as the 68th best guard in the league, which is unacceptable for a starter and a former second-round pick.
Finally, the defense has been a disaster. The run defense is dead last in the NFL by a wide margin, allowing 181.8 yards per game and badly missing last year’s run-stuffer D.J. Reader, as he left the Houston Texans via free agency. The pass rush has been surprisingly on point since Anthony Weaver took over at defensive coordinator, totaling 10 in four games which are tied for 10th in the NFL.
J.J. Watt has amassed two sacks, a total matched by Charles Omenihu and Whitney Mercilus, yet Watt has missed far too many tackles in the backfield.
Ultimately, this the Houston Texans are too talented to be 0-4, but the firing of Bill O’Brien might end up being the spark that they needed to get the ball rolling and win their first game this Sunday.
Romeo Crennel will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of this year, and one would hope that the former defensive coordinator can light a fire under this unit. He will officially be the oldest person to ever coach an NFL game at a remarkable 73 years old, but his experience will be invaluable moving forward.
After 100 games of Bill O’Brien, the Houston Texans can finally start to carve out a new identity for themselves starting in Week 5 against the Jaguars.