GRUFF TIMES

5 ways to make Bill O’Brien more likeable

Billy O's image could use a reboot. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

The Texans have won nine in a row, are in control of the AFC South and in the running for a top two seed. They have dusted two inferior teams in the last two weeks, and are playing great football.

But for some reason, no one likes Bill O’Brien. If we put his picture on a story, people don’t want to read it. He’s gruff, standoffish, a know it all, a bully and at times comes off as an ass. Or, as Charlie Pallilo calls him, Billy Bluster.

If the Texans keep winning, O’Brien’s profile is going to continue to grow.

So as a public service, here are five things O’Brien can do to become more likeable:

  1. Answer the questions thoughtfully. The infamous “not my job” comment and terse responses - especially after losses - come off as petty. You can be that way when you have titles (Bill Belichick, Gregg Popovich). But when you don’t you are just a jerk. Put some effort in it, Billy.

  2. There is this thing called a smile...Have you ever seen him do it? Nope, neither have we. When you win, show some positive emotion. As Billy himself says, it’s hard to win a game in the NFL. When you do, take a second to enjoy it.

  3. Puppies. Bring a puppy to the press conference. Everyone loves puppies. They will ignore everything else. “We sucked today” will still get an “awwww” with a good puppy.

  4. Open up a little. People close to O’Brien say he is a great guy. That side never shows up in public. Yeah, we know you have to put on a facade, but not everything has to be the tough guy, small man act.

  5. Screw it. Just keep winning. Get a Super Bowl and you can act like an ass and no one cares.

J.J. Watt is headed for illustrious but strange company

Maximize opportunity before Watt gets wasted

Houstontexans.com

Thursday the reality of what J.J. Watt is facing really hit me. The Houston Chronicle reported Watt had a minor offseason knee surgery. The last three years prove he's far from immortal, though the once incredible career is back on track. For how long, no one knows. Then I finally realized it.

J.J. Watt is on pace to be the greatest defensive player to never play for a conference championship or a Super Bowl.

I started digging into the lists of the all-time great defenders and the best pass rushers in the game's history. Most of the players who would easily be considered a great on defense have at the very least won a Lombardi. If they haven't won the big trophy they've either played or been one game away.

Two names stick out on the all-time greats list. Deacon Jones played three postseason games all in the divisional round. Dick Butkus never played in the postseason. You have to go to 24th all-time in sacks, Pat Swilling with 107.5, to find a sack leader who hasn't at least played in a conference championship or better.

It's a line on almost every great's resume and Watt's missing it.

Watt's only 30 sacks away from the top 20 in career sacks. His three defensive player of the year awards in four years cemented an era of dominance rarely matched in NFL history. He will put on the gold jacket one day. It would be bittersweet to find himself among those greats having never played in a game with that level of importance.

Unless he plays in one.

Brian Gaine and Bill O'Brien can't mess this up or they will be accessories to a sports crime: cementing Watt's place as the all-time great without a huge game to his name. The Texans enter one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. They have to find a way to protect Deshaun Watson as he's the key to making sure Watt's schedule pushes beyond 16 games each year. It's no easy task, but go do it. Make the defense's job just a little easier with some powerful offense.

Give Watt and company just a second more too with better secondary play. Help him out with a better pass rush next to him and not just opposite him. There's so many things the Texans have to get right with their massive cap space and three picks in the top two rounds.

It won't all be Gaine and O'Brien's fault if they don't do it, however they have a chance, with Watson and the rest of this team, to make sure a truly significant game appears on the schedule for Watt. Just one conference championship appearance, then, who knows. Maybe the big one and the Lombardi trophy.

Now here's a thought that will shake all Texans fans.

If the Texans don't nail it this offseason and show the next few seasons they're not legit threats, maybe Watt fills the hole in his distinguished career elsewhere. Reggie White left in his 30's. DeMarcus Ware found glory with the Broncos after a long Cowboys career. It isn't unheard of to see one franchise's legend don another team's colors.

I'm not sure what would hurt Texans fans more. Knowing Watt never played in the biggest games with the Texans or seeing him get to one of those games with another team. It's the hope neither of those things happen. There are almost never happy endings in football, but Watt's story deserves one or more of those chapters.

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