FALCON POINTS

O'Brien to give up play calling duties for Texans as part of his new regime. What impact will it have?

Composite photo by Brandon Strange

Texans GM and coach Bill O'Brien addressed the media for the first time since his officially being named GM. Attending the scouting combine, he did drop one important announcement - he will turn over the offensive play-calling duties to Tim Kelly.

On the surface, this is a really good idea. O'Brien's play-calling has been questionable at best. In his six years as head coach, he has never managed a top 10 offense. But will it really make a difference?

In his own words

Here is the question O'Brien was asked and how he answered it:

How will your role on gameday change with Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly calling plays this season?

"I don't think it changes it too much. I think that one of the bigger changes would be between series. I've spent a lot of time with Deshaun (Watson) and Tim, the offensive line, the running backs, the tight ends, the wide receivers on the bench there before we go out for the next series. I think I'm not going to do probably as much of that. I think I'll do more about being able to focus on the whole game, how the game is being played and things like that, but I don't think it changes it too much."

Sadly, he is probably right.

Past performances

Kelly coached for two years as a graduate assistant at Penn State before following O'Brien to Houston. He moved up to OC from Quality Control assistant.

O'Brien gave up play calling duties one other time, to George Godsey in 2015. Godsey was fired at the end of the 2016 season.

As much as we've been critical of O'Brien, he is to be commended for letting someone else call the plays. But can we really expect anything different with a coach who has followed O'Brien for almost all of his career?

And if it really doesn't change that much - O'Brien's own words - is it really a move that will work out?

The same can be said of promoting Anthony Weaver to defensive coordinator. Once before, O'Brien kicked Romeo Crennel upstairs. Mike Vrabel took over, and was miserable in his one year as DC before becoming head coach of the Titans.

So twice before, O'Brien has tried moves like this. It failed both times.

Going with rookies

That does not mean it will fail again. Kelly may improve the offense. Weaver is well-regarded and could turn out to be a good DC. The Texans are close enough, however, that you have to be concerned about two rookie play callers. The safer move (and many would argue smarter) would have been to bring in some experienced minds with a track record of success. But O'Brien prefers to promote from within. So far, it has not worked out.

But O'Brien finally has the full control he has sought all along. You could argue last season was his best yet. Still, the Texans remain the only AFC South team to fail to make an AFC Championship game during O'Brien's tenure.

How will it play out?

If it is like most of O'Brien's decisions, it will likely mean another run at the AFC South title, but expecting more remains optimistic. Still, O'Brien has a draft and free agency to get his kind of players to go with his kind of coaches.

And maybe, finally, he will have his kind of team. Maybe that will be the impetus to take them to the next level.

But no one will fault you for being skeptical.

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Eric Gordon has lost a tremendous amount weight during the shutdown. His biggest aspiration is to stay healthy and be more fit for the shorter season. He told the media that he feels confident about this team, and is optimistic about getting his shot back consistently.

"Everybody knows we're a dangerous team. We can beat anybody, and we can beat ourselves" said Gordon. "It's all about finding that consistent path. There are only eight games and playoffs around the corner, we have to be dominant from start to finish."

Gordon is at a career low shooting 37 percent from the field this season, while playing in only 34 games. During the season he went through a couple of injuries while averaging 14.5 points per game. For Gordon to be productive he needs to remain healthy so the Rockets can be successful. If Russell Westbrook or James Harden are off to a bad start, Gordon is a great weapon to go to. Even though Gordon's stats dropped from the previous two years, there can always be a quick turnaround.

Gordon's injury caused him to miss quite a bit of time, so it was hard for him to get back in rhythm. That can always throw a great shooter like Gordon off. The quarantine allowed Gordon to get healthy and practice his shot more. Before the season started, Gordon signed a four-year, $76 million contract extension. Daryl Morey is extremely confident about having Gordon on the Rockets. Morey was seen working with Gordon after practice Tuesday.

Mike D'Antoni has loved the way Gordon has looked on the court. As D'Antoni watched the Rockets five on five practice, he's been observing Gordon very carefully.

"He hasn't missed a rep. Looks good. Shooting the ball extremely well," said D'Antoni during the Zoom press conference. "Getting Eric Gordon in the groove and getting him going is very important. And also, getting the other guys to be able to maybe even have more opportunities."

When Gordon is consistent and healthy, it is a scary sight to opposing teams.

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