TEXANS IN TURMOIL

John Granato: With Gaine hire, Bill O'Brien has won the battle on Kirby, but can he win the war?

Bill O'Brien got his man in Brian Gaine. Will it pay off? Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Make no mistake about it, Bill O’Brien won the battle. But has he won the war? It needs to be a long drawn out war. If it’s a quick one he’s a goner.

BOB got his guy in Brian Gaine. When Gaine left the organization a year ago the whispers were that BOB was none too happy about it. That was his guy. Well now he’s got his guy but Rick is still lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce should things not go well on Kirby next season.

The problem with that is that it’s a game that Rick has weighted toward his side. The roster is Swiss cheese. Look at all the holes on the offensive line and defensive backfield, a lack of talent at wide receiver and tight end and no depth for special teams.

My worry is that BOB is only going to get one year to fix all that with no first or second rounder. Does he deserve more? That’s arguable. He has his detractors and rightfully so.

What has he proven as a head coach? He won two division titles in a weak division and while his offense turned into the scariest in the league with Deshaun at the helm they still only managed a 3-3 record thanks to BOB’s questionable play calling in crunch time.

Can he fix all these problems in one offseason and prove that he was the right choice over Rick? That’s your task, Mr. O’Brien and it looks like Mission Impossible with all there is to do and no picks to do it with. It’s not hopeless though. There is plenty of money to spend on free agents although it’s dearth of tackle talent. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

But there is an ace in the hole for BOB. Rick left one thing  behind that could be his undoing: No. 4. No. 4 can cure all evils. No. 4 made the most mundane offense in the league over the last three years into the most dynamic. No. 4 made the worst offensive line in the league serviceable. Kendall Lamm was actually OK when No. 4 was on the field!!!! That alone should have garnered MVP consideration for Deshaun.

I, for one, am rooting for BOB. I want to see the team win. I want the playoffs to actually mean something as opposed to the playoffs we’ve had here in the past where we knew that they could only go so far with the talent they had. I want to see Deshaun vault to the top of the NFL quarterback hierarchy. I want to see JJ great again.

One thing I don’t want is Rick back in the GM seat. That’s something I’m just not interested in. I’ve seen that movie for 11 years and I know the ending. It ends badly every time. The good guys never win. The evil empire always breaks through its defenses and kills the good guys’ season. With Rick standing on the deck of the starship overlooking the fight there’s nothing but battle red blood all over the field.

I don’t know if BOB’s the answer. I loved the hire at the time. Since then, meh. I loved the offensive adjustments he made with Deshaun at qb but there really isn’t much more to hang your hat on. He knows more football than we ever will but we can see deficiencies in time management and replays. Those are things he can get better at but four years is a big enough sample size to know that it’s a problem.

There is a lot to fix but I’m betting on Bill O’Brien to win the war. Ironically Rick could lose it because of his greatest move; drafting Deshaun Watson. His greatest achievement could be his undoing. That and all the crappy draft picks he’s made.

But the clock is ticking, Bill O’Brien. You’ve won the battle but the war isn’t over.  




 

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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