The Houston Texans lost wide receiver Will Fuller for the season with an ACL injury on Thursday night, leading to questions about whether they might pursue a high-profile replacement.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien was asked Friday if the team would look into adding free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant, and while he didn’t say yes, he didn’t say no, either.
Asked about potentially looking at Dez Bryant, O'Brien said #Texans always explore everything. Will look at own players first. O'Brien met with GM Brian Gaine this morning.
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) October 26, 2018
Still a free agent, Bryant has been in the headlines for sniping with his former bosses and hasn’t really been linked to a team in a while. There’s no indication that the Texans are interested, and we don’t know if he would even be interested in the Texans. They’re a playoff contender he’d have a decent role on, so the speculation makes sense, but speculation is all it is right now.
Now that the Houston Texans know what quarterback Deshaun Watson can do, they’re happy to build their entire offense around him.
That’s coach Bill O’Brien’s goal this offseason — retool the offense to best suit his young quarterback and the other skill players at his disposal, such as wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
“It’s a very big project but it’s a lot of fun,” O’Brien told PFT Live, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk. “It’s fun to get in there with the offensive staff and figure out how we can do things differently than we’ve done in the past. I think you have to be willing to change in this league relative to the talent you have. Deshaun has a unique skill set at the position and we’re looking at his skill set as well as Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Ryan Griffin some of the other guys we have on offense and really trying to put it all together.”
Part of the thinking will be figuring out how to best protect Watson from injury.
“Deshaun has a style of play that allows himself to stay out of trouble most of the time,” O’Brien said. “He knows when to slide, he knows when to duck out of bounds, he’s got a good instinct for the game. The other thing we’ve tried to do is improve the offensive line and that’s something we’re going to continue to try to do. We have to do a better job of protection. We have to coach it better, we have to play better. I think that’s going to help him.”
Watson appears to be ahead of schedule in his return from injury. When he’s ready, he’ll apparently find a new offense tailor-made for him.
The Houston Texans may have to make some major changes to their organizational structure this offseason, and they are reportedly exploring ways of doing that without needing a new head coach.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that Bill O’Brien is likely to return as the Texans head coach in 2018. There are still some issues with O’Brien’s contract that need to be sorted out, as he has just one season remaining on the five-year deal he signed with Houston back in 2014. However, Schefter’s sources expect that situation to be addressed.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media had a similar report about the O’Brien situation on Sunday, noting that one possibility for the Texans could be elevating general manager Rick Smith out of his position with the football operations department and giving O’Brien more control over personnel decisions. One report earlier in the week stated that O’Brien’s relationship with Smith is in a very bad place.
Despite rumblings that he would be a hot coaching candidate if he became a free agent, O’Brien has said he has no plans to give up on the Texans. The players, most notably rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, have said they want the coach back. A divorce would leave a lot of people unhappy.
With their next general manager already in tow in Dave Gettleman, could the New York Giants now be zeroing in on their next head coaching target?
Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com reported this week that the Giants could be interested in Bill O’Brien, assuming he parts ways with the Houston Texans.
O’Brien, who has coached the Texans since 2014, may be on the outs in Houston. The team has slipped to 4-11 this season after three straight 9-7 campaigns. Then you see reports like this, which make you question how much longer O’Brien can co-exist with Texans management.
Struggles in 2017 aside, O’Brien is a veteran coach who has proven multiple times that he can field a playoff team. That might be just the type of hire the Giants need to make as they move forward into the post-Ben McAdoo era.
- Bill O'Brien
It sounds like the Houston Texans will have a decision to make once and for all on the future of their franchise once the NFL season comes to a close.
Multiple sources told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that the relationship between coach Bill O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith is “toxic,” and owner Bob McNair will likely have to decide which one he’d like to retain once the season concludes. It remains possible that McNair could keep both and try to make things work for at least one more season, but there are concerns that could create an even worse working environment in Houston.
“It’s toxic,” a source said. “It’s dysfunctional.”
O’Brien will have one year remaining on his contract and has said he will not quit, which will leave McNair with a decision to make. Smith, for what it’s worth, is close with the McNair family and has been a member of the organization for significantly longer than O’Brien has been.
These reports have been out there for a while now, and it sounds like the tension won’t be going away until either O’Brien or Smith does. This will be a situation to watch once Week 17 is in the books.
Black Monday is looming in the NFL, and rumors are starting to heat up about coaches who may lose their jobs. With many disappointing seasons throughout the league, there could be fairly significant turnover once the season ends. We’re not even counting Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who seems to have already decided his future, or Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, whose fate sounds like it’s up to him.
Here are 12 coaches whose seats are getting quite warm as we head toward the offseason.
12) Jay Gruden, Redskins
On the whole, Gruden’s position is probably safe. His injury-riddled team could still go 8-8. And though he hasn’t done anything spectacular, he has kept the Redskins on a steady footing. That’s not as easy as it looks. There’s one major wildcard that could have an impact on Gruden’s job security, though. Reports have indicated that a looming grievance hearing for former GM Scot McCLoughan has at least a chance of turning up some damaging and embarrassing information about the organization. If Dan Snyder needs a fall guy, Gruden could be it. But in terms of his on-field performance, Gruden seems to have done just enough to fend off the axe for another year.
11) Adam Gase, Dolphins
Gase was billed as a quarterback guru when he was the hottest candidate on the coaching market two years ago. He got Ryan Tannehill to the playoffs last season, but this season will go down as a huge disappointment. He still has some goodwill left over from that playoff appearance, and he can excuse at least part of the 6-9 season by noting that Tannehill got hurt before the season. Gase staked a lot of Jay Cutler, though, and it didn’t work out. Year three could determine Gase’s fate with the Dolphins.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has had some bad luck this season after leading his team to AFC South titles the previous two years, and the disappointing year may be his last in Houston.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that O’Brien has a “complicated” relationship with Texans general manager Rick Smith. With O’Brien entering the final year of his contract in 2018, multiple sources told La Canfora that a split between O’Brien and the team is “imminent.”
This may not be a situation where O’Brien is fired, as there are expected to be numerous head coaching vacancies across the NFL and O’Brien knows he would be a top candidate for many of them. The former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach would certainly enjoy continuing to develop Deshaun Watson, but La Canfora reports that there have been “years of friction” between Houston’s coaching staff and front office in recent years.
Watson recently made his feelings about O’Brien clear, and the Texans’ 4-9 record this season is more a product of the quarterback tearing his ACL than anything else. That doesn’t mean Houston wants to keep the head coach around, and the desire to part ways could be mutual.