Bill O’Brien was there again last week, which is to say that the Houston Texans’ head coach continued to show how well he is outdone as general manager of the Houston Texans. In these troubled times, O’Brien’s failure to understand the value of the list may be the only thing we can all agree on.
To be clear: O’Brien has coached the Texans for six seasons, a streak in which his regular season record of 52-44 was the fifth best of AFC. In other words, O’Brien is It’s okay as head coach. But now that he’s had a chance to push staff decisions for two consecutive seasons – and in January he officially received the GM title, LOL -, it’s fair to wonder if anyone should pick up their keys on this side of the building.
Last week, O’Brien traded a second-round pick (# 57 overall) in next week’s draft against the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for wide Brandin Cooks and a fourth round in 2022. The cooks will turn 28 in September and he can certainly be a great receiver. But he is also part of his fourth team in five seasons, and he comes from far the least productive year of his NFL career – a season in which he suffered two concussions in the space of a month.
It also seems to be a year in which the project is rich in enlargements, and young expanders on cost-controlled contracts would be particularly valuable for a team with a quarterback like Deshaun Watson, who is now eligible for an extension. So, naturally, O’Brien has given up on more asset projects to chase a previous mistake.
That’s right: in March, O’Brien traded DeAndre Hopkins, one of the game’s main receivers, to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a second-round pick and ball carrier David Johnson. Hopkins has just completed a 104-catch season, a year after he failed to drop a pass. Let us therefore consider the return of the Texans by trying not to die of laughter. First, there is this:
Then consider that Johnson is playing a position with a relatively short lifespan in a league where runners have become screaming replaceable. This is where we must remember that Johnson is 29 years old and carrying a maximum number of more than $ 11.1 million. I want to say …
After the deal ended, O’Brien and the Texans tried to whitewash the decision through the press. Did you know that Hopkins wanted a new deal because he was short-sighted enough to accept a Contract in the summer of 2017 which reached its maximum on a ridiculous five-year term, a good deal for the Texans because of all the increases in the salary ceiling? And did you know that Hopkins would have bad practice habits that made it a handicap and a bad influence? Who else is amazed that it all came out after O’Brien sent it for a new power strip and a T-shirt.
These moves would be just another tuba solo if it weren’t for the extra keyless orchestration that O’Brien provided last summer by swapping two first round picks plus a second round for left forward Laremy Tunsil. Undoubtedly, the Texans needed a left tackle after trading Duane Brown with the Seattle Seahawks in October 2017. In 2018, the Texans ranked last in the NFL in terms of adjusted bag rate, per Football Outsiders, and the absence of a left tackle was a huge factor. O’Brien was right to support this. His mistake was in what he did not do.
The Texans did not sign Tunsil to extend their trade deal; as a result, a solid player at one of the main positions in the game still has a year on a rookie after the team that negotiated for him gave up a king’s ransom to acquire his services. It’s not hard to see that Tunsil has the upper hand at the bargaining table, knowing that the Texans may have to pay him a ton to keep him from hitting the market next year, where he would be sure to cash .
O’Brien got his start with the New England Patriots, where Bill Belichick experienced staff control in addition to his coaching duties, resulting in 20 years of unprecedented domination that includes six Super Bowl titles. Belichick’s coaching tree is primarily a large strain surrounded by tattered resumes from those who have attempted to reproduce his authoritarian method.
O’Brien is the one who seems determined to try to exercise this same type of global control. Coaches tend to want to be successful now, while GMs are looking to do the same, keeping an eye on the years to come. O’Brien’s movements seem to have the peculiarity of preparing the Texans for the kind of future that neither succeeds.
Dom Cosentino is a senior feature editor for theScore.