Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien took a program that was in tough shape at Penn State and turned it around, and now he’s getting his shot to do the same thing at the professional level.
According to published reports O’Brien is headed to Houston to take over as their head coach, and has one of the better opportunities to have immediate success when he makes his coaching debut in 2014.
He’s inheriting a defense lead by J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing, and offensively has one of the best receivers in the game in Andre Johnson. Â Should running back Arian Foster get healthy, O’Brien will have enough bullets in his gun to be dangerous offensively, and if Houston selects an upper-tier quarterback that he can develop, it’s quite a foundation to be off and running with.
Like Penn State he’s heading into a program that is in massive disarray, having lost 14-straight games. Â It’s hard to argue that the Texans have far too much talent to have been unable to muster one win over that span, and if O’Brien can stabilize things and get that group playing as well as they did in 2012, it’s not hard to believe that things will be different for his football team next season.
It will be fun to watch, and it should be interesting to see if another Bill Belichick coaching disciple can achieve immediate success. Â Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, and Josh McDaniels each didn’t have much success after leaving New England, so O’Brien’s future will be something to keep an eye on.
He’s a guy who has done a good job developing quarterbacks, which will be a focus when he gets started in Houston. Â He developed former Penn State QB Matt McGloin, turning him from what many felt was a mediocre player into a guy who finished his collegiate career ready enough to start seven games in Oakland this season. Â He’s got Case Keenum, who is a fearless gunslinger but a little reckless. Â One key sign of what he feels he has on that side of the ball will be decided by what he decides to do in May. Â He could elect to draft someone with the first overall selection, but there’s no question that whatever they decide to do, he’ll have to achieve success relatively quickly. Â Ownership already admitted frustration that there’s too much talent to have been unable to win more than two games, and it’s hard looking at the roster not to agree.
Losing fourteen straight leads you to believe there’s either too little talent or the coaching was terrible. Â Knowing who Houston has on their roster, the latter appears to be more realistic. Â Now it’s up to O’Brien to get to work, and that’s a program that could be a force in the years to come if he can build on what’s definitely a terrific nucleus.
It’s a better group than the one that hasn’t had a victory since all the way back in September. Â Hopefully for the fans in Houston, that streak will end when their team gets back on the field in 2014.