After an 0-4 start to the 2020 season, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was fired. The firing relieved him of both head coaching and general manager duties, as he held both positions.
While O’Brien was over .500 as a head coach (52-48) and won the AFC South four times in his six full seasons, Houston was only 2-4 in the playoffs. In addition, O’Brien made highly questionable moves as general manager. Most egregious of these, perhaps, was trading DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson and not even receiving a first round pick in the exchange.
His lack of playoff success and fan-angering moves combined with the 0-4 start spelled his doom as the Texans’ head coach. Since the organization fired him early, they can get a head start on finding his successor.
Here are four potential head coach candidates for the Houston Texans.
If a culture change is necessary in Houston, Robert Saleh could be the coach who could maybe get it done the quickest.
Going from an offensively oriented head coach in O’Brien to a defensively minded skipper like Saleh could be exactly what the Texans needs. He would clearly want to rebuild the defensive side of the ball first and work outward from there. Considering the Texans’ brand has always trended toward defense, the fans would respond to that direction quickly.
The main issue this hire would present is the need to hire an offensive coordinator that is creative, smart and knows how to use Deshaun Watson. That position needs to be solidified to make a Saleh hire a true home run.
The Chiefs’ offensive coordinator will be on every team’s short list in terms of filling a head coach vacancy. Eric Bieniemy has been one of the hottest commodities in the NFL since Patrick Mahomes’ meteoric rise began.
The man partly responsible for Kansas City’s notoriously high-powered and creative offense would be a perfect fit almost anywhere. However, combining him with a dual-threat quarterback like Watson may be a better fit than most. Houston is most certainly intrigued by an offense led by these two.
Bieniemy needs a GM who will work with him to rebuild a team that is in no-man’s land, though. Pieces need to be added on both sides to make this team a perennial contender again. If those pieces click fast, then a total rebuild will not be necessary with Bieniemy at the helm.
An un-sexy, but a solid choice for the Texans’ head coach position is Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Very quietly, Eberflus is heading up the best defense in the NFL in 2020 after building it up since his arrival in 2018.
As stated above, the defense need a reboot. They are one of the worse units in the league this season, even as J.J. Watt stays healthy. If some moves are made to supply the team with good defensive backs, Eberflus could change that trend.
There is also something to be said for replacing a high-profile hire like O’Brien (who was hired in dual-role capacity from Penn State, following his apprenticeship with Bill Belichick) with a lower-profile name. That approached worked for San Francisco when they transitioned from Chip Kelly to Kyle Shanahan.
Crennel has the Texans above .500 since O’Brien was let go, at 4-3. The team seems to be responding to him, if not simply responding to the change of pace at the head coach slot.
The players will be the ones to get Crennel hired as head coach in a full time capacity. If they campaign for him to take over, then they may get what they want. He has head coaching experience in Kansas City and Cleveland, although his 32-58 record does not inspire a lot of confidence.
Maybe the biggest hurdle to hiring him would be his age. At 73, he would immediately become the oldest head coach in the league if he were given the job. But, he has knowledge of the system, the players like him and he has a lot of defensive coordinating experience. It is worth looking into if nothing else.
Featured Image courtesy of Ashley Landis/Dallas Morning News
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