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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The Texans have a big decision to make. Composite image by Jack Brame

The last few weeks have brought us some very interesting episodes of "As Kirby Turns." Cal McNair has admitted he hasn't spoken with Deshaun Watson and has also doubled down on his affinity for Jack Easterby by saying he's staying around. The franchise's only member of their Ring of Honor, Andre Johnson, came completely out of character by tweeting his support for Watson to "stand his ground" in what most assume is his desire to play elsewhere. Newly hired general manager Nick Caserio has the hardest job in the NFL because he's basically a one leg man in a bleep kicking contest. National and local media are all floating rumors and opinions about Watson's status with the team. Meanwhile, Watson himself has been cryptic and hasn't come out and said one thing either way about his status with the team.

My opinion is that he won't be traded and this is his way of using the leverage he has to get some things done his way to ensure more of his career won't be wasted. Once they hire a head coach he approves of and they talk, he'll be back in the fold and blow things over by saying he never demanded a trade and was only upset about some things due to miscommunication. Blah blah blah. However, where there's smoke, there must be fire. I'll examine some pros and cons to a potential trade of Watson.

Bad news first. This franchise has waited its entire existence for a franchise quarterback like Watson. Finally getting one and having to deal him amidst the bumbling owner and charlatan right-hand man would be a big blow to overcome. This coming year is shaping up to be difficult as it is, but doing so with Watson wearing a different jersey could prove to be a near fatal blow. It would take an additional year or so to recover. The only way this timeline is expedited, is if they get a quarterback back in the trade or with one of the draft picks that they feel can be the man moving forward.

The bright side. Watson is this team's most attractive asset as it looks to rebuild. There are teams in the top five of this year's draft who need quarterbacks, and a couple of them have multiple first round picks. The Jets, #2 and #23 overall in the first round this draft, are the most intriguing destination because they may be bad next season with Watson if you get that pick in the trade as well. Throw in Sam Darnold, who's still young and salvageable, and this could be a hard reset that may not take as long. The Dolphins, #3 and #18 overall this draft, also have a lot to offer. Rumor has it Watson would like to go to Miami in a deal that includes Tua Tagovailoa, who was a guy Caserio liked when entering the draft. Again, another potential hard reset that may not take long if either young quarterback pans out. You could also trade back from those top slots to acquire more picks to help fill some of the many holes you have.

I reiterate, I do not believe Watson will be traded. I'm not even sure his no trade clause is applicable since he's still under his rookie contract and his extension hasn't kicked in yet. The new CBA rules call for stiffer penalties for players who refuse to report, so a holdout is highly unlikely. I'll be glad when they hire a coach Watson likes, and we get the happy family press conference introducing him, so this soap opera can move on to its next episode.

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