The Hypocrisy of Bill O'Brien

Team, in Houston is spelled B-I-L-L

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Due to the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee being suspended, Brown alum Bill O'Brien decided to do us all a favor and spell team for us last week. The hypocrisy in the Texans' general manager and head coach taking on this task is quite overbearing.

As O'Brien attempted to explain how his moves as the general manager were making the team better, I could only smirk, thinking back to the summer of "alignment." It wasn't that long ago that Bill O'Brien had to get Rick Smith out because Smith obviously didn't understand what it meant to be a part of O'Brien's T-E-A-M. When Brian Gaine was brought back to replace Smith, the duo spoke about "alignment" ad nauseam. They looked to build the team the same way, they looked for the same attributes in players...yada, yada, yada.

Fast foward only a year and a half later and somehow Gaine had already forgotten how to spell T-E-A-M. Now enter the man that must have an unmatched vocabulary as his rise to power in Houston is unlike any that I have ever seen in professional football. A former team chaplain and character coach, Jack Easterby, had taken a trip to New England. Alledgely, Easterby and O'Brien felt that Nick Caserio knew how to spell T-E-A-M better than Gaine. While O'Brien and Easterby could spell with the best of them, apparently reading wasn't a top priority for the trio. O'Brien and Easterby haphazardly met with the Texans' owner and convinced him to move on from Gaine and pursue Caserio. This didn't go as plan (or did it) as Caserio had a no-interview clause in his contract. New England threatened the Texans with tampering charges and Houston cowered to their big brothers, once again, embarassing the franchise as a second-tier organization among their piers.

No worries, they still had Gaine, right? Unforunately, the team had decided to fire Gaine the week prior, as they supposedly believed that Caserio was a homerun hire. Needless to say, that was the beginning of a reign that would lead to a new T-E-A-M model being one canvassed in battle red embarassment.

O'Brien and Easterby since the "mistake" went on to become the most powerful man in the organization and his right hand, yes man. Yes, the chaplain, the character coach, was now at the right hand of the czar. Was it a huge coincidence that O'Brien and Easterby's elaborate plan blew up in a way that would benefit the both of them? Or is it more likely that the Ivy league educated O'Brien had orchestrated a scheme that would finally put him in a position to have the power that he had always craved?

O'Brien's flub made him the only officially titled general manager and head coach in the NFL. How could a coach with a resume more similar to Marvin Lewis than Bill Belichick hold both titles at a time in which giving coaches all encompassing power had died off? Yes, O'Brien has won a lot of AFC South titles. Congrats are in order for winning one of eight divisions and being better than at least three teams each year, that happen to be geographically close to the city in which his club plays. Never mind the fact that since O'Brien took over as head coach of the Houston Texans, his team is the only AFC South squad that has fail to advance to an AFC Championship game. Never mind the fact that he holds a 2-4 playoff record with wins over quarterbacks Connor Cook and Josh Allen or the fact that he became the only coach to blow a 20+ point lead in the playoffs and lose that game by 20+.

O'Brien would like his season ticket holders to believe that he's building a true team. However, the blueprint that O'Brien has shown is one that looks more of a dictator. His plan is to seize all power and only surround himself with those who have undying loyalty to him as supreme leader, not the team. In Houston, you spell team, B-I-L-L, if you don't worship at the alter of O'Brien then you will quickly be banished, despite your talent, following, prestige, etc.

O'Brien's Reign:

  • Get Rick Smith out of the way
  • Get Brian Gaine out of the way
  • Become GM
  • Trade Clowney for small return
  • Trade Hopkins for small return
  • Trade for Tunsil without extension
  • Elevate yes men to all positions of authority
It's agree wholeheartedly with O'Brien or fall by the wayside. That's what a team is in O'Brien's eyes.

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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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