The head coach addressed the potential future of the headset

O'Brien not yet sure who is calling plays

Cody Stoots/SportsMap

The head coach of the Houston Texans isn't ready to declare which voice Deshaun Watson will hear the play calls from next season.

"I think it's so early right now to really talk about any of that," Bill O'Brien said Wednesday from the NFL Scouting Combine when asked who would be the person calling the plays on Sundays.

The only options are O'Brien remaining the man with the microphone or newly promoted offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.

O'Brien was bullish on Kelly's potential as the team's offensive coordinator.

"We have a system in place, he knows the system, he knows where the system needs to be improved, he knows how it can be tweaked, he knows the things that we have to keep doing that we did well last year."

Kelly finds himself in this position after being the team's tight ends coach. O'Brien said the team has a philosophy of preparing young coaches and giving them more as the team's faith in them grows.

Kelly, of course, fits that mold.

"He's run the third down meeting. He's run our Wednesday morning meeting where we introduce the opponents' defense. He's done a lot of things in front of the unit because I do think that you can't just take a guy and say 'OK, he coached tight ends and that's all he ever did' and then you just put him in front of a unit of professional football players. That's not what we've done here."

It very well could still be O'Brien with Kelly as the backup option, or vice versa. As for the current task in front of the team's new offensive coordinator O'Brien trusts Kelly.

"He's had a lot of input into what we do. He's had a big part of the process and he's ready for the challenge."

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The future is bright for the Astros. Composite image by Jack Brame.

2020 has shown us lots of things. A few of the things it's shown us is that anything is possible, expect the unexpected, and do not be surprised at the outcome. Well, the Astros checked all three of those boxes in this pandemic season and post season. Anything was possible when they finished the 60 game season 29-31 and barely made the playoffs (yes, the new format helped, but they made it). We should've expected the unexpected when they were able to beat the Twins in the first round 2-0 after the A's ran away with the division this season. We for damn sure shouldn't have been surprised at the outcome of their ALCS series when they forced Tampa to a game seven after being down 3-0 because this team is experienced and scrappy. We are talking about the team that's made it to the ALCS four years running and won it all in 2017.

Sure, there are some high dollar guys that mean a lot to this team that they may lose (looking squarely at George Springer and Michael Brantley), but that's the end of it. They'll also be without Justin Verlander after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Some will say coming back from a 3-0 deficit to force a game seven was good enough. They'll tell this team to accept its fate and fall into the background. They replaced their manager and general manager after the cheating scandal, no way they can move forward and succeed right? (insert your favorite GTFOH GIF)

Springer and Brantley could both leave as free agents

This team may not be thought of a contender moving forward, but I have faith in the talent that's still there. I believe Jim Crane knows who and what he can't live without moving forward, so I think he'll shell out the cash necessary to keep guys like Springer and Brantley...as long as it's within reason. Crane won't, and shouldn't, get into a bidding war with another team for either guy, but I think he will make a fair offer to both. Verlander being out in his last season under contract is a big blow. However, I think it can work to the team's advantage.

Let's say they're only able to bring back Springer OR Brantley, but Kyle Tucker takes that next step. Let's say Forrest Whitley, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy all take that next step while Lance McCullers continues his accent. What will the league say when Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman return to their previously dominant forms? All of this speaks to the continued era of the dominant Astros.

Even if they lose Brantley and/or Springer this offseason, I still think they have enough in place to keep the lineup competitive and threatening. The pitching staff has enough firepower to put some fear into opposing lineups. If they continue to make the right moves and develop the talent they have in-house, this team won't fall off or take a dip. Instead, they'll continue to be a force if they hold true to the talent they have, and acquire the complimentary talent they need to accent the players they have now. The pitching staff will be in good hands. McCullers, Framber, and Urquidy are guys I feel that can carry the load. Meanwhile, Forrest Whitley is waiting in the wings. Kyle Tucker is poised for the next step in the lineup, and Captain Correa clearly established himself as a leader this post season.

The future is bright for Astros fans. If ownership and the front office pony up the money to keep some guys, it'll be even better.

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