Now that the Texans have abruptly fired coach/General Manager Bill O’Brien, they need to justify doing so.
Here’s one way to do it: Paint O’Brien as unhinged and suggest that the team was falling apart around him.
To that end, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that O’Brien “got into an argument with defensive end J.J. Watt and defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver on the practice field” during O’Brien’s final weeks on the job. Wilson adds that O’Brien got into “verbal altercations with other staff members.”
While it may have been a final-straw scenario, it’s neither new nor out of character for O’Brien to be on the feisty side. In late 2016, O’Brien and quarterback Brock Osweiler got into a loud confrontation that reportedly turned physical. In 2018, O’Brien nevertheless got a new contract. In 2020, he got a second title.
O’Brien was who he always is. While some players and coaches may have run out of patience with him, especially at a time when nerves are frayed by the pandemic and other realities of modern life, O’Brien didn’t undergo an organic personality change.
Leaks from the organization highlighting instances of O’Brien being O’Brien, while predictable, fail to make this anything other than what it seems to be: A decision to dump O’Brien the coach after six-plus years on the job based on the performance of the team after only four games with O’Brien serving as the G.M.
If you don’t buy that, ask yourself one question. If Houston had beaten Minnesota on Sunday, would the Texans have fired him?