Pursuing O'Brien a smart move by Texans

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
6:12
PM ET
 

Again we see the fruits of getting a head start on coaching search season.

On Saturday, our Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reported that the Texans are intensifying talks with Penn State coach Bill O'Brien in hopes of making him their next head coach. (This probably means interim head coach Wade Phillips, who on Friday declined to say whether he had interviewed yet, has already interviewed).

They technically may not hire O'Brien until after the season ends, but no other team in the league has fired its coach yet. So, no other team is officially conducting interviews and no other team has had a chance to woo O'Brien.

Texans owner Bob McNair said he wanted someone with NFL experience and head-coaching experience, although not necessarily at the same time. We also know, through comments he has made in the past, how much respect McNair has for the Patriots and their success. O'Brien was the Patriots' offensive coordinator before becoming Penn State's head coach.

I like the idea of giving someone his first chance at being an NFL head coach much better than recycling someone who failed elsewhere. It's true that many former Bill Belichick assistants have failed as head coaches, but that doesn't mean O'Brien will be the next to do so. It's unfair to assume that will be the case.

His success in a difficult position at Penn State is a positive indicator, as is the fire he was willing to show as the Patriots' offensive coordinator, once famously yelling at star quarterback Tom Brady on the sideline after a costly interception. If O'Brien does become the Texans' next coach, he'll come into a situation in which he'll need to command the respect of a veteran group. Only two years removed from his last NFL job, it's not likely O'Brien has forgotten what that takes to accomplish.

Tania Ganguli

ESPN Houston Texans reporter

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