Sean Pendergast

Here Is One Thing Bill O'Brien Absolutely Must Stop Doing

Bill O'Brien's spin doctoring on offensive underperformance must stop.
Bill O'Brien's spin doctoring on offensive underperformance must stop. Photo by Eric Sauseda
The job title "NFL head coach" comes with long hours and high stress. Being the steward of the most relevant team in a major U.S. city is a stressful job. So is the job of "NFL general manager." It just so happens that, somewhat miraculously, Bill O'Brien carries BOTH of these job titles. It's debatable whether or not he is actually good at either of these jobs — I think he is an above average head coach, and my fear is he has no clue at some aspects of general managing — but he has the titles.

Yet despite the fact that he performs not just one, but TWO very stressful and time consuming occupations, it is my belief that Bill O'Brien still finds time to own a fantasy football team. Hell, maybe multiple fantasy football teams. Why do i think that? What is his "tell"? Well, I'm glad you asked. You see, Bill O'Brien has made a low key habit out of pointing out offensive numbers generated in blowout losses, as if the yards and points are somehow meaningful. He likes to cite them as if they are more an indicator of true performance than what they really are — garbage stats piled up against an opponent who just wants to get the evening over with because they've accomplished all of their goals by midway through the third quarter.

O'Brien is (possibly) literally the only Houstonian with a keen interest in the Texans who sees meaningless fourth quarter yards as actually relevant and meaningful, and the thing is this — O'Brien knows better. He is not a dumb person. He loves the yards and points generated in a game that truly only fantasy owners (and degenerate gamblers — I do NOT think he is one of those) could love.

The latest example of this behavior from O'Brien came on Monday, his first public media session since last Thursday night. When asked about making changes to the offense after Week 1, his answer was as follows:

“No, it’s only one game. We moved the ball. We moved the ball, too little too late. We need to have a good week of practice and just keep trying to get better.”
Now, to be clear, like O'Brien, I am also of mind that "Hey, it's just one game, let's not get hasty here." However, I don't need the incessant reminders that "we moved the ball." Yeah, you moved the ball once the score was 31-7 in favor of the Chiefs. At that point, the team in the lead is playing against the clock more than they are playing against the Texans. To wit, here are the numbers pre-31-7 lead and post-31-7 lead:

HOU: 39 plays / 210 yards (5.4 YPP)
KC: 60 plays / 374 yards (6.2 YPP)

AFTER 31-7
HOU: 19 plays / 150 yards (7.9 YPP)
KC: 7 plays / -5 yards (-0.71 YPP)


Congrats, Coach! You rolled up nearly eight yards per play AFTER Patrick Mahomes had sliced and diced you for nearly three quarters. Way to go!

Perhaps the most egregious version of "Fantasy Owner O'Brien" came last season after a 38-24 loss to the Broncos, in which the Texans trailed 38-3 early in the third quarter. Remember this?

Here is the actuality as pertains to this "not horse BLEEP" performance:

HOU: 37 plays / 166 yards (4.5 YPP)
DEN: 38 plays / 320 yards (8.4 YPP)

AFTER 38-3
HOU: 38 plays / 248 yards (6.5 YPP)
DEN: 17 plays/ 71 yards (4.2 YPP)


So the bottom line is this, Coach — if Lamar Jackson and the Ravens jump out to, say, a 34-7 lead on Sunday (quite likely, by the way, in case you haven't caught the Ravens' Week 1 38-6 win over the Browns), and your offense somehow degenerates 17 points in the fourth quarter to make it look like LESS of a blowout, please don't tout how you "moved the football."

We don't care about your fantasy team.

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