Here is a link to my NFL Pre-Season Analysis for this year. I said there that Bill O’Brien would be fired as the GM of the Texans and that Coach O’Brien would be fired as part of that process. It was Prediction # 21 for those who care. Well, it happened earlier this week and not at the end of the season. Bill O’Brien is the first coach and/or GM to lose his job in the NFL this season.
As a coach, O’Brien did well enough until this year’s 0-4 start – – even though those first 3 losses were to the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers. The 2020 version of the Texans is unimpressive at best. Having said that, the problem with this team is about more than the coaching than it has gotten. Fundamentally, this team is not as good as it could be – or ought to be – because of decisions made by the GM in assembling the roster. In the case of the Texans, that GM and that coach happen to be one and the same hominid.
Here is something I said in that Pre-Season Analysis linked above:
“If I tried to tell you that I understand the reasoning behind most of the Texans’ off-season moves, I would be a big enough liar to run for the US Senate.”
The Texans have made some head-scratching personnel decisions over the past couple of years:
- They gave up multiple first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil and then signed Tunsil to a bloated and team-unfriendly contract from a salary cap standpoint.
- They traded away Jadeveon Clowney for next to nothing.
- They traded DeAndre Hopkins for David Andrews – – say what?
- They acquired Brandin Cooks – – a very good WR who is 27 years old and is now with his fourth NFL team.
The Texans have a franchise QB – – if they can figure out how to assemble an OL that will keep him from going to the morgue any time soon. That roster is a mess and a half; and, in this case, the coach rightfully takes the fall for the roster because the coach and the GM are one and the same. Here is why I think “Bill O’Brien the coach” is competent and is collateral damage in this firing of “Bill O’Brien the GM”:
- He has won the AFC South 4 times in 6 seasons – – and finished 2nd in the Division in one other season.
- He has won with both Brock Osweiler and with Brian Hoyer as his QBs.
- I think that shows that he can coach – – but it also shows along with some of the personnel moves listed above – – that he would not recognize a good personnel move from a team perspective if it ran into the room and bit him on the ankle.
Do not delude yourself; the Texans’ ownership did not make this move because it has a strategic vision for the future and the “next Bill Belichick” already under contract and waiting in the wings. Taking over on an interim basis will be Romeo Crennel.
I have no reason or interest in trashing Romeo Crennel. He is the interim coach here because he is the only coach on the staff that I can find who has ever been a head coach in the past. He must be a wonderful person because he keeps getting head coaching opportunities with the thinnest of credentials:
- He has been the head coach for 83 games; his record is 28-55-0. Basically, he wins 1 of every 3 games.
- In his 5 full seasons of coaching, his teams have had a winning record 1 time; in those 5 full seasons of coaching, his teams have suffered double-digit losses 4 times.
In a sense, Romeo Crennel may take over the Texans at a propitious moment. With an 0-4 record on the books so far, there is no realistic way he can do any worse over the next 4 weeks. And the NFL schedule-maker has put a gift-wrapped opportunity in front of Coach Crennel:
- The Texans play the Jags next weekend at home.
- The Texans get to play the Jags again on November 8th in Jax.
Romeo Crennel has two games against one of the worst teams in the NFL over the next month; they are clearly winnable games; if he wins both, he will be seen as a successful interim coach as compared to the 0-4 start to the season by the “Texans under previous management”. Not to worry though, Romeo Crennel will not be the coach of the Houston Texans come next year; Crennel is now 73 years old; and the Texans will be in a rebuilding mode for at least another year or two.
For the record, this is not a particularly attractive job even though it is one of only 32 jobs of its kind in the world. The Texans’ roster needs an overhaul, and they will not have a first round or a second-round pick in next year’s Draft. It is always important to a young and upcoming coach to land in a spot where he can have success in the early stages of his career; it sets his narrative on a positive vector. The Texans do not look as if they will provide such an environment for a “young and up-and-coming type” come next January when Romeo Crennel will revert to a defensive coordinator job somewhere.
Moving on … Last Sunday, I had to watch the Ravens/WTFs game here in Northern Virginia; it was the only game on in the early time slot. There was a shot of Alex Smith on the sidelines as the game went on. I want to be on record here unambiguously before anything like this takes place:
- If – – I said IF – – Alex Smith sees the field for even one play this season and even if it is for a “kneel down” to end a half or a game, Alex Smith deserves to be the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
- Over the past 2 years he has had 17 surgeries and at least one stint in an ICU where his life was in the balance. Moreover, he has rehabbed from a devastating leg injury to the point where he has been able to take part in team practices.
- Any jamoke can put on a uniform and a tuck a helmet under his arm and stand on the sidelines, but Alex Smith is doing that this year after a monstrous trek through the medical system of the US. If he makes it across those sidelines and into action in 2020, he would get my vote unequivocally as the Comeback Player of the Year.
Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times recently:
“The Yankees — for the first time in their 120-year history — hit into five double plays and committed four errors in the same game in a 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Marlins.
“Or as the 1962 Mets used to call such an occurrence, Friday.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………