Falcon Points

Bill O'Brien keeps adding to his power, and the Texans are not likely to be better for it

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

In the wake of the Texans ugly loss to Kansas City, changes needed to be made. Head coach/GM/offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien needed to add some new voices. But did anyone really expect that to happen?

Instead, O'Brien began making moves to consolidate his power and help prevent anyone from questioning him.

Will the moves make the Texans better? Maybe, but based on O'Brien's history, they probably won't.


The departed

Romeo Crennel: The veteran defensive coordinator's contract was not renewed, which was hardly a surprise. Crennel seemed lost at times. Whether or not that was a lack of talent or the game had passed him by, it was time for a new voice. A veteran DC with a track record of success would have been a good step. More on that in a minute.

Chris Olsen: A behind-the-scenes, longtime member of the front office, Olsen had been with the Texans for 13 years and was roundly praised for his work on contracts and the salary cap. He also apparently had the "interim" general manager tag. His firing basically gives O'Brien yet more control over the front office.

John Pagano: The linebackers coach had experience as a defensive coordinator in the past. The linebackers were not the problem with the defense. More likely it is yet another spot where O'Brien wants his guys.

Rest assured, more moves will be coming. If they are anything like these, it will be to get more O'Brien puppets in the dope show.

The new DC

Anthony Weaver has been the Texans defensive line coach. He is highly regarded and he might do a good job. But he has no experience. O'Brien's past coordinator hires - with the exception of Crennel - have been abject failures. Even Mike Vrabel was a poor DC who went on to be a quality head coach. At some point, you have to give young, talented coaches a chance, and there is nothing wrong with that. But a veteran with a track record of success would have been a smart move. It might work out, but does anyone believe it will?

Past performance

As bad as the defense was, the other side of the ball has not been good enough, either. And that has been O'Brien's baby.

In his six years as head coach, the Texans offense has never been in the top ten in points or yards. The closest he came was 11th in points in 2018. Even with Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, the offense has been slightly better than league average at best. Yet he refuses to add new blood with new ideas. Why not tap into the KC pipeline? Or the Saints? Or anyone with a track record of success?

That would be admitting he is not doing a good enough job. Yet despite his track record of mediocrity, O'Brien has added more power each year. And here he goes again.

O'Brien the GM

He has had mixed results in the role. He paid a lot for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills, but they were good pickups. However, if he can't re-sign Tunsil, the trade will be an abject failure. He also added Duke Johnson and Gareon Conley for third-round picks. Both were solid additions, and with the way the Texans draft in the third round, you could call those wins. The Carlos Hyde for Martinas Rankin deal was a win, picking up a 1,000-yard back for another failed third rounder.

But he overpaid on contracts for Nick Martin and Whitney Mercilus, two more of "his guys" who did not perform to the contracts they were given. Now, with Tunsil's extension looming, plus Watson's, a need to pay D.J. Reader plus Hyde and Bradley Roby hitting free agency, he dismisses his best cap guy?

Face of the franchise

O'Brien has made himself the be-all and end-all. His need to control the entire organization has led to poor decisions on the field. He has been an average offensive coordinator, a slightly above average head coach, and the jury is still out as a GM. But he has done nothing to show he can manage all three jobs effectively. Like it or not, he is now in control of everything. From his perspective, it means no more excuses. And by now, you have to wonder why adding more on his plate is warranted.

Future looks...mediocre

It really is a shame that a team with so many likable, easy to root for guys has chosen to make O'Brien the centerpiece of everything. Watson, Hopkins and J.J. Watt should be the centerpieces. Instead it is O'Brien who is the main man.

After six years, we know what he is. The team has reached its high point under O'Brien, and there is no reason to think things will be different moving forward. All Texans fan can hope for is that giving him more power takes them to another level. That has not worked for six years, so that's a hard sell.

But it is all that is left. O'Brien and his band of yes men taking even more control. Maybe it will work.

It sure hasn't so far.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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