The Houston Texans have fired Bill O’Brien. The news was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.
O’Brien served as the club’s head coach and GM, and had recently indicated he would become more involved in the team’s play-calling after an 0-4 start. Instead of allowing O’Brien to add a third job to his plate, owner Cal McNair took the plate away.
Cal McNair said O’Brien was understanding.
Cal McNair: “Bill was very professional. He thanked us for the opportunity and was sorry he couldn’t get us over the hump.”
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) October 5, 2020
O’Brien led the Texans to a 52-48 record in six-plus seasons, including four AFC South championships. The club reached the AFC Divisional round twice, blowing a 21-0 lead to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in January.
Houston is the first NFL team to make a coaching change in the 2020 season.
Romeo Crennel will serve as Houston’s interim head coach. The Texans host Jacksonville on Sunday.
O’Brien spent two seasons as Penn State’s head coach before taking over in Houston, leading the Nittany Lions to a better-than-expected 15-9 record in the two seasons immediately following Joe Paterno’s firing, the Jerry Sandusky fallout and NCAA sanctions.
Prior to that, O’Brien made his name in the coaching profession as an assistant under Bill Belichick, rising from an offensive assistant on the Patriots’ 18-1 2007 team to offensive coordinator on a 2011 Patriots team that reached the Super Bowl. He was Duke’s offensive coordinator prior to his 2007 arrival in New England.
The end of O’Brien’s tenure in Houston started before the season even began. Following the collapse in Kansas City, O’Brien traded wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona, a move that was widely panned at the time and has no improved with age.
Despite the team’s 0-4 start, Houston will not receive immediate relief in the form of a high draft pick, since Houston does not own first- or second-round picks in the 2021 draft as compensation for trades O’Brien made as GM. Houston also did not have a first-round pick in the 2020 draft, either.
It’s expected Houston will hire a GM first, and that person will determine the direction for the Texans’ impending head coaching search.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.