Sean Pendergast

Odds On Who Will Replace Bill O'Brien As Houston Texans Head Coach

Swinney would be a favorite of Texan fans if indeed he became the team's new head coach.
Swinney would be a favorite of Texan fans if indeed he became the team's new head coach. Screen grab from YouTube
Romeo Crennel officially took the reins of the Houston Texans on an interim basis yesterday, as he conducted his first practice in his new role. Crennel will not be the permanent head coach once the season is over. The future head coach of the Texans is out there working for somebody else right now, and exactly who that person is will be the question hovering over this franchise until Cal McNair selects him.

Whoever it is, they need to be selected with an affirmative answer to THE most important question in the building at NRG Stadium. It's the question the Texans should be asking themselves with any decision they make — is this decision in the best interests of Deshaun Watson?

With respect to the selection of the team's next head coach, this means picking somebody who either (a) has overseen a Watson-friendly scheme, and with great success, over the last several years, or (b) has been a top notch defensive coach with an ability to attract an offensive coordinator with, again, a Watson-friendly scheme. It would also help if the new head coach didn't scream down fans while going into the locker room at halftime...

But I digress.

For now, let's look at the odds board and determine where the value might be in climbing inside Cal McNair's brain and determining what direction he will choose to go in hiring the fourth head coach in the history of the franchise his father founded back in 1999. Here are the odds on the next Texans head coach, courtesy of Sportsline:

JOSH McDANIEL, Patriots offensive coordinator +300
Most Texan fans want nothing to do with another Bill Belichick disciple, after the way things ended with O'Brien, but if Jack Easterby is involved in the selection process, his Patriot roots might be a factor. McDaniels' first stint as a head coach, in Denver, was a disaster, but people learn. Maybe.

ERIC BIENEMY, Chiefs offensive coordinator +350
The favorite in the clubhouse for most Texan fans, Bienemy has been the play caller for the Chiefs the last to seasons for an offense that has won a Super Bowl and an MVP for Patrick Mahomes. The question would be "How much of Kansas City's offensive success was a product of head coach Andy Reid's leadership, and how responsible was Bienemy in contributing to that success?"

BRIAN DABOLL, Bills offensive coordinator +500
Daboll has coached for Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, so he's seen what great looks like at both the pro and collegiate levels. His offense in Buffalo this year has been perfectly tailored for Josh Allen, a former top ten pick who had some serious holes in his game coming into the league. Like Bienemy, this would be his first head coaching job, so you have no idea what kind of staff he would assemble.

GREG ROMAN, Ravens offensive coordinator +600
Roman is a former Texans assistant (quarterbacks coach under Dom Capers) who has been the architect of the Baltimore Ravens' offensive machine with Lamar Jackson under center. He probably wouldn't run the exact same offense with Deshaun Watson, but his ability to adapt to his quarterback's strengths is encouraging.

BYRON LEFTWICH, Buccaneers offensive coordinator +800
He ultimately couldn't coach Jameis Winston over the hump in Tampa, and is now coaching Tom Brady. Really hard to tell if Leftwich is all that people seem to think he is.

ROBERT SALEH, Niners defensive coordinator +1,000
The first defensive coach on the board, Saleh is another former Texans assistant, this time from the early Kubiak years. Saleh's defense was the foundation for the NFC champion Niners in 2019, and it will be fascinating to see how his unit does this season with Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas out for the season with knee injuries.

DABO SWINNEY, Clemson head coach +1,200
This pick would win two things — the heart of Deshaun Watson, and the introductory press conference. This would be a home run hire for the entire offseason leading up to the 2021 season, but I am very skeptical that Swinney's rah-rah act would translate to the NFL.

The remaining long shots on the board.....

MATT EBERFLUS, Colts defensive coordinator +1,500
DON MARTINDALE, Ravens defensive coordinator +1,800
LINCOLN RILEY, Oklahoma head coach +2,000
MIKE GUNDY, Oklahoma State head coach +2,500
JIM HARBAUGH, Michigan head coach +3,000

Of those, I think Riley would be the best choice, and Harbaugh would be the best for content.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast