Plus the head coach and general manager weighed in on Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil's futures

O'Brien's commitment to familiarity could be defining moment of his power

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

What we learned from Bill O'Brien's first public discussion since he was officially named the coach and general manager.

Tim Kelly is the new play caller for the Texans offense

Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has been with Bill O'Brien since he took over as the head coach at Penn State. Kelly followed to the NFL when O'Brien took over the Texans and before last season Kelly was named the team's offensive coordinator.

Now, for just the second time as head coach, O'Brien is handing over the play calling duties. The last time O'Brien did this was when George Godsey was promoted to offensive coordinator and the offense regressed with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Godsey would lose those duties and ultimately his job after the 2016 season.

This is one of the few changes to an offense that took a step back from 2018 last season. The defense was overhauled, as it should have been (more on them next), but little to no change occurred on the offense until Kelly took the headset. It would have been difficult to expect more from the offense in 2020 if nothing had changed but I believe this could be a significant change for the good.

Kelly has clearly been groomed for this position. He's stuck around as O'Brien hoarded the headset for himself when previous members of the offensive staff, like former Texans coach Sean Ryan, couldn't wait for the time O'Brien would relinquish duties. He's coached all over the offense. He's helped in implementing the offense. When he was, to me at least, clearly calling plays in the second preseason game of 2019 the Texans opened the game with a touchdown. Same in the fourth preseason game. The Texans didn't replicate that feat until week 17.

This also adds pressure to O'Brien's resume of clearly his decisions. If this backfires consider it one of the biggest failures in O'Brien's tenure. He heavily relies on people he knows and has worked with. He rarely goes outside with someone he hasn't coached with before. If Kelly isn't good, and O'Brien has to divide his attention again, consider that a strike against O'Brien.

Inside shot caller on defense too with Anthony Weaver 

With the extreme failure of the Texans defense last season, regardless of their level of talent, it was certainly time for Romeo Crennel to move on. The curious decision was, again, an internal promotion. This time defensive line coach Anthony Weaver was handed the keys to the defense.

O'Brien had high praise for Weaver and the various defensive coordinators he had worked under as a coach and player. He claimed Weaver would have his own style and he's been picking Weaver's brain about what he would do as the head man on defense for a while.

The last time O'Brien experimented with an in-house promotion for the defense was when Mike Vrabel took over in 2017 and the defense finished rated 32nd in points allowed. Despite the defensive failures, Vrabel was rewarded with a head coaching opportunity. Romeo Crennel took back over and the defense got back on track for a year before it went sideways again in 2019.

It would have made a lot of sense to go outside the organization here, but O'Brien again relied on someone he has been priming for this position it would seem. It also, like the offensive decision above, is a line on his resume. It would also be a strike on his resume if it doesn't work out.

Think of a scenario where the defense stays bad and the offense regresses again. That would be a horrible look for O'Brien the decision maker and bad for the results in 2020. But, I do like the youth movement from O'Brien. Weaver will turn 40 this year, and Kelly is in his mid-30's. The last time O'Brien tried both of these moves, it didn't work. If these two hit, O'Brien will look like a genius.

The new contract expert

This is notable as Chris Olsen has rarely made a mistake as the contract and cap expert for the Texans in his time there. His assistant will have his job now, but I can't buy O'Brien not knowing why the change was made.

If indeed this is Jack Easterby's area, he is the team's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, O'Brien brought him into the organization and it wouldn't make sense he is on equal footing as O'Brien. Whatever the reason for Olsen leaving, Krajcovic will have a tough act to follow. Speaking of contract work...

Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil could break the bank

Dehsaun Watson has technically two years left on his deal, with the fourth year of the contract and the fifth-year rookie option. Laremy Tunsil is currently slated for a big raise as his fifth-year rookie option has kicked in.

For Tunsil, his price has to be extremely high. Taylor Lewan and Lane Johnson have two of the largest and best deals at the tackle position. Tunsil has significant advantages over both of those in the negotiation process. He is better than Lewan, younger, and plays left tackle unlike Johnson who plays right tackle. The Texans also moved a huge amount of draft assets to get the left tackle. Most elite player don't play on the fifth-year option. Tunsil shouldn't and likely won't.

Deshaun Watson's contract could be heavily contingent on what Patrick Mahomes gets in his new deal. The Eagles and the Rams really upset the way of doing business when they paid Carson Wentz and Jared Goff a year before first round quarterbacks traditionally get paid. Both Watson and Mahomes should be seeking new deals, and it could be a standoff between the two to see who signs first. They each have been far better than Goff and Wentz and should be paid better than both.

O'Brien thumbs up on XFL

O'Brien mentioned the kickoff rule as one he liked. The NFL has to adopt that rule. It is the best way to do kickoffs.

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Grant Enfinger joins Trey Campbell. Photo via: Wiki Commons

I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to one of the Premier NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series drivers, Grant Enfinger. We talked about Friday's race at Martinsville and what some of the keys are to survive this tough track. We also talked about his week at Texas and what position that puts him in going forward into the rest of the season. Grant has been one of my favorites to watch ever since I have watched him in the old ARCA Series so it was good to talk to him on the phone.

SportsMap: I am joined here today by one of the premier NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Drivers Mr. Grant Enfinger. Thank you so much for joining me.

Grant Enfinger: Yeah! Thanks for having me.

SM: So can you talk a little bit about your race at Texas and what happened with your truck? I understand you had some engine issues? What exactly went wrong there?

GE: Yeah It was definitely an unfortunate event there. When we unloaded the truck we weren't where we needed to be. But my crew-chief Jeff Hensley and the guys worked hard to get this #98 Champion Power Tools Ford F-150 where it needed to be, and we were battling for seventh and eight and the engine started missing for about a half a lap and it just blew up all of [a] sudden. It was just unfortunate that it had to happen in a critical race and it kind of put our backs behind the walls for Martinsville. But we got a good group of guys and I think we will have a good shot at it.

SM: So you mentioned you guys are going to Martinsville this week where we see a lot of beating and banging and you'll be contending against your teammates Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton for the final spot in the championship. Will you be racing those guys any different knowing how much is on the line?

GE: Well for us, it's a little bit different you know. Me and Ben are in a position that we have to win so us at ThorSport have quite our work cut out for us each weekend. We aren't all in the spot we want to be in. It would be much better if we all had a points cushion going into this but none of us have that. So obliviously we don't want to put our teammates in a bad spot but when it comes down to it at Martinsville on that last restart, anything goes. So hopefully we have a Champion Fire Equipment Ford F-150 that is good enough to stay up front and not have to worry too much about it.

SM: So with this year being as strange as it is, NASCAR has had to make a lot of changes from the Choose Rule to there being no practice and qualifying. Which rule change has been the most difficult to adjust to?

GE: There have definitely been a lot of changes for this year especially there being no fans or limited amounts of fans and that's really going to have a big effect on our sport. Plus, the sponsors can't come down into the garage area and be around the team so it's been different. But I think the biggest change performance wise has been losing practice and qualifying. I don't feel like it effects the cup guys too much or the top dozen in the Xfinity Series cause of the cup technology. But for us, we are still racing and there is a lot of old school type of guesses. We don't have it down to an exact science and my crew chief Jeff Hensely kind of has to go with his gut on some of the setups, but I feel like we have done okay for the most part.

SM: So looking forward to 2021, what are some of the plans for the Truck Series next season? Will we be seeing anything new with the truck rules package or with the schedule?

GE: I think for the most part our rules package will pretty much stay the same. Of course, NASCAR is never scared to change anything last minute but that seems to be the direction we are going. As far as the schedule, I know that we are going to some new tracks next year. Our schedule hasn't been confirmed, but from what I'm hearing, we will be going to some new places so it should be an interesting season next year.

You can hear the interview in its entirety below.

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