Every-Thing Sports

A realistic exit for Bill O'Brien

Composite photo by Brandon Strange

We're living in a crazy time. COVID-19 has shaken the world to its core. Jobs are on the line as the economy continues to suffer. So last week, I made my appeal to replace Bill O'Brien. I haven't been contacted as of this writing, so I'll assume they're not ready for me...yet. I won't give up hope at the moment, and neither should Texans fans.

With all of the shenanigans this guy has pulled off and the power he has amassed, there's still reason for hope. As bleak as things may seem now, I do see a series of events that can lead to O'Brien's exit. This is a case of things getting worse in order for them to get better. Just as a we're going through hard times right now, things will get better. Sometimes you have to take a few steps backwards in order to move forwards. Here's how I see it going:

Another early playoff exit

With a seventh team eligible to make the playoffs this year, it's likely the Texans will make the new expanded field. Nothing will change as they will be out in the first round and in typical embarrassing passion. The fans will see this coming all season and voice their displeasure at the turnstiles and merch sales. The McNairs will feel this displeasure monetarily and will start to get squeamish.

Contract extension troubles

We've already heard Laremy Tunsil turn down a reported $18.5 million dollar per year average deal in hopes of landing something in the $20 million dollar range. Deshaun Watson will look to set the new bar at quarterback which will exceed $35-40 million dollars a year. You know those memes that say start one, bench one cut one? Who do they franchise if neither takes the extensions offered? Do you give in to Tunsil's demands because of the price you paid? You have to at this point. Do you do the same with Watson? You'd be stupid not to. Trading them would be disastrous as we've seen how O'Brien does in that department. His seat is considerably hotter.

A 2021 flameout 

Following a second offseason without a first round pick and cap space tied up in guys he failed to sign to extensions in a reasonable amount of time, O'Brien starts the 2021 season 3-7. Fan atendance is at an all-time low. Most season ticket holders are selling their tickets to opposing team fans. Home games look more and more like road games every week. Heading into the bye week, The McNairs pull the trigger midseason and relieve him of all his duties in an attempt to get ahead of the hiring curve. This now gives them a chance to hit reset button, but with major pieces in place.

Who steers the ship now?

With Watson still under contract, a first round pick for the first time in two years, and a fresh start on the football side of the organization, who gets to steer the ship? Hopefully, the rest of the football world continues to sleep on Eric Bienemy and he can be the Yoda to Watson's Luke. If not, I think there are several other candidates out there who'd sell their mother for a chance to work with Watson. The general manager hire would be easy as well considering he'd have a high enough first round pick and some talent already in place. The cap space will be messed up because of what they're paying Watson and Tunsil, but I'm sure one of these bright minds could find a way to figure something out. Things are looking up now.

Like I stated previously, sometimes you hvae to go through hard times in order to get to the bright side. We see this with the quarantine and/or stay in place orders. We have to suffer some setbacks to make major comebacks. I see nothing different about the Texans organization. This too shall pass. Bill O'Brien isn't long for Houston. The only way he survives is if he does the impossible and manages to win a Super Bowl or finds his way into winning and winning big over the next few years with the rag tag roster he's out together. I'd rather have someone cough on me right now than to stay in place for the next three months. I'd rather suffer through a couple bad seasons than see him win here. Yes. I said it.

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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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