Where is the trust level in the Texans head coach and how can the team recovery from the KC collapse

O'Brien, Texans at franchise crossroads

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, 1 Bet as the Texans hit the offseason after an embarrasing loss to Kansas City.

No trust in Bill O'Brien after this

Deshaun Watson may trust him but I don't.

This loss to the Chiefs hit pretty much every spot on the Bill O'Brien bad bingo card. Timeout when they couldn't get a critical 3rd and 9 ready? Check. Timeout when he thought he might have had a first down but it was fourth down and the play wasn't in soon enough? Check. Lacked aggressiveness? Check. Overly aggressive at wrong time? Check. Offense falls apart? Check. Defense isn't instructed to try something new? Check. Weird trick play when you NEED a score? Check. Quarterback has to tell you to not punt and go for it in the fourth quarter? Check.


Unfortunately for Texans fans the prize is another season of Bill O'Brien in control. Every single team in the AFC South has played for an AFC Championship since Bill O'Brien took over as the head coach. His former defensive coordinator is coaching for a trip to the Super Bowl this week. One of his best friends went two years ago.

Each of the past two season the other AFC South team has gone deeper than O'Brien's Texans. And each of them had a tougher road to go further than the Texans did.

O'Brien said after the game yesterday he believed the team was headed in the right direction. Nobody agrees with that.

After talking about just Sunday, lets not forget O'Brien authored a less impressive offense this year despite having a far more talented group of players. They faced less stud quarterbacks than 2018 and somehow had less wins. Houston had a great opportunity to at least threaten for a bye, alas they weren't even playing meaningful football in Week 17.

There's no reason to believe in Bill O'Brien's future as the head coach of the Texans. We just saw the best it gets and it is ugly.

No general manager expected for Texans

Bill O'Brien said he doesn't expect to fire himself. Essentially. I have to imagine the ownership wouldn't make that discussion a lengthy one if they were planning on changing things. Perhaps in his upcoming meeting with ownership it isn't out of the question they suggest a general manager but don't hold your breath.

New direction on defense necessary 

I laid it out on SportsMap Sunday

The problem with moving on from Romeo Crennel is I'm not sure who Bill O'Brien would target. The one year Crennel wasn't the defensive coordinator O'Brien promoted Mike Vrabel to that position. John Pagano has been a two-time defensive coordinator in the NFL with stops coordinating the Chargers and Raiders previously. I believe he will be the new defensive coordinator next year.

Anthony Weaver will one day be a defensive coordinator but I don't expect he would earn the promotion. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to see him move to a more prominent position with another team.

John Butler was O'Brien's defensive coordinator at Penn State and coached defensive backs for him in Houston. He had a messy exit from the Texans though and I wouldn't anticipate he is a possible option.

The New England tree has been picked over quite a bit too. With multiple defensive signal callers from the Patriots now head coaches elsewhere the pool of former Patriots staffers that could be ready to call defense is low.

George Edwards is a free agent after Minnesota moved on from him. He coordinated a regularly impressive Vikings defense and his Vikings exit came as a bit of a surprise. This would include a big scheme change but after nearly a decade running the 3-4 defense something new wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

What would O'Brien give up?

"I think you have to look at everything," Bill O'Brien said about potentially relinquishing some of his duties.

He can't keep doing it the way he is doing it. There is too much on O'Brien's plate. Just can't stay at the same pace. He needs someone to call plays for him. If I could make one change for O'Brien it would be that. Have someone call the plays for the offense and improve at the small details of being a head coach.

If an offensive whiz coordinated for O'Brien he would be more in tune with the flow of the game and perhaps make less mistakes.

I'm not the owner but I would make O'Brien hire someone to take some things off his plate.

Will Watson and Tunsil get paid?

Both of the Texans stars can get new deals this offseason. Tunsil likely would eclipse Lane Johnson's number in Philadelphia or come damn close, and Deshaun Watson would reset the market.

I anticipate Watson trying to wait out fellow 2017 draft pick Patrick Mahomes. Watson hasn't had as good of a career and isn't as good as Mahomes but he is more necessary to the Texans.

I bet the Texans are thankful for this news

Stay tuned for SportMap's analysis.

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The Texans showed the fans they care on Monday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Whatever words you want to use - “dismissed,” “fired,” “parted ways,” “resigned” — ding dong, Jack Easterby is gone as executive vice president of football operations for the Houston Texans.

A collective sigh of fans’ relief spread across Houston when intrepid ESPN reporter Adam Schefter broke the story of the controversial and roundly despised Easterby’s departure early on Monday, October 17. Relief followed by good riddance and what took the Texans so long?

Easterby joined the Texans in 2019 and quickly gained power through his friendship with team owner Cal McNair. Easterby was roundly criticized for weaving religious fervor in his role as head of football operations. According to the Texans website, Easterby was “responsible for the vision and oversight” of the team.

Let’s review: during Easterby’s tenure, the Texans went 9-29 on the field, the team’s star quarterback went on a rampage of sexual misconduct with 20, or 22, make that 24 female masseuses (and counting), traded perhaps the most talented receiver in the NFL for a broken down running back and a handful of magic beans, hired and fired coaches to where the Texans currently are paying three different head coaches, and watched fans abandoned going to games.

Only a few years ago, the Texans had a waiting list in the tens of thousands for season tickets. Now the stadium is half-empty and seats can be had for pocket change on secondary ticket sites. The Texans are 1-3-1 this season, in last place in the AFC South.

For years, Houston sports talk hosts and writers pleaded for the team to unload Easterby. That could be one reason that Easterby lasted as long as he did. NFL owners ain’t about to let the media dictate how they run their teams.

Today, we’re hearing comments like “there’ll be rejoicing throughout the organization” and “a pox on the team is gone.”

My football buddy Ed said, “you can’t call him a cancer on the team because cancer kills you, the team is still around. He was more like an STD that lingered.” (Don’t scratch, that only makes it worse.)

Easterby avoided the media like a biblical plague. In the few glimpses we got of him, he came off like, as Jimmy Buffett would describe, a conniving “television preacher with bad hair and dimples,” the only difference being Easterby had no hair.

A Sports Illustrated exposé on Easterby revealed that he brought a “culture of mistrust and constant chaos among staff and players,” arranged for illegal team practices and flouted safety rules during COVID, and reportedly hired private eyes to follow players during their off-hours.

Easterby, 39, started as an academic tutor at the University of South Carolina, then an entry-level intern with the Jacksonville Jaguars, became team chaplain for the New England Patriots, then character coach, before his meteoric and totally baffling rise to head of football operations with the Texans.

The S.I. piece pinned Easterby with backstabbing other executives and decision-makers, breaking NFL rules, pushing the trade of Hopkins, and generally leaving the Texans organization a $4.7 billion dumpster fire.

The Texans released this statement on Monday afternoon from McNair:

“I met with Executive Vice President of Football Operations Jack Easterby and we have mutually agreed to part ways. For the remainder of the season, effective immediately, his responsibilities will be absorbed by our Football Operations staff. We acknowledge Jack's positive contributions and wish him and his family the best in the future.”

As fans are gleefully and sarcastically note on talk radio and online discussion boards: “He won’t be missed.”

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