Sean Pendergast

Four Frustrations of the Current Bill O'Brien Situation

Texan fan frustrations with Bill O'Brien are at an all-time high.
Texan fan frustrations with Bill O'Brien are at an all-time high. Photo by Eric Sauseda
As we in Houston stumble out from under the rubble of the the Patrick Mahomes siege on Sunday, and try to mend our wounds, know that Bill O'Brien DID manage to make history in the Texans' embarrassing 51-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs — the Texans are the first team in NFL history to blow a 20-plus point lead in a game that they wound up losing by at least 20 points.

Call it the "20-20 achievement, "appropriately" accomplished in the year 2020. Unfortunately, THIS is the type of history Bill O'Brien is making as a head coach. As an offensive play caller, he also managed to steward the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in a loss. Way to go, OB!

If I scour Twitter long enough, I'm sure I can pepper you with stats and info that will have you burning your Texans gear in the street. The bottom line is this — Bill O'Brien has the most easily identifiable ceiling of any head coach in the NFL. Very, VERY clearly, Bill O'Brien is a head coach who can ride his quarterback to close wins over average to below average teams, pull off the occasional upset, win a division, and then get dismantled by better teams in the playoffs.

His body of work is not a small sample. It's been this way for most of his six seasons here, save the "riding the quarterback" part, which became a phenomenon three seasons ago when Deshaun Watson thankfully arrived. If we want to get more specific, aside from the very obvious glass ceiling, here is what I feel are the four major frustrations with Bill O'Brien:

Fans feel stupid and bamboozled buying in on this team.
I'll just let my Twitter thread from Sunday night tell this story....

As Forrest Gump would say, "...and that's all I have to say about that."

O'Brien the GM is constructing a roster that might be undervaluing actual talent.
While Bill O'Brien the Head Coach is making strange in-game decisions (more on this in a moment) and constructing an offense that seems to hamstring Deshaun Watson, at times, William O'Brien the General Manager is going to be busy plowing through the Texans' $60 million in cap space this offseason trying to fortify a roster, without having a first round pick in this draft.

Here is my biggest concern about O'Brien doing the spending this offseason — the Whitney Mercilus contract extension scares the ever loving hell out of me. Whitney Mercilus has never proven he can be even an adequate pass rusher without a peak level J.J. Watt on the field, and O'Brien gifted Mercilus a four year, $54 million extension, in large part because Mercilus checks off the magical trifecta of boxes labeled "smart, tough, and dependable," the O'Brien mantra. My fear with O'Brien the GM is that "good at football" clearly falls behind "smart, tough, and dependable." The more O'Brien is allowed to build this team in his vision, the more jacked up this roster will get for whoever (someday) comes in and replaces him.

O'Brien, perhaps because he holds like seven different jobs, still gets flummoxed with basic in-game things.
There was plenty about that Chiefs game to disgust you, if you're a fan of the Houston Texans. In these losses and even some of the wins (see: Bay, Tampa), I seem to have a moment where I throw my pen and scream "What the hell is Bill O'Brien thinking?!?" That moment in the Chiefs game was with 11:45 to play, and the Texans facing a 4th and 4 at the KC 42 yard line, with the Texans down 48-31, needing three scores to tie or win the game, Bill O'Brien sent the PUNT TEAM ONTO THE FIELD. Yes, O'Brien, NEEDING THREE SCORES IN A GAME WITH UNDER TWELVE MINUTES LEFT, was going to punt the ball back to a team that had scored a touchdown on SEVEN STRAIGHT POSSESSIONS against your defense. It took Deshaun Watson literally explaining this to O'Brien for the head coach to BURN A FREAKING TIME OUT, to allow his quarterback to go for the first down. I'm getting riled up just thinking about this. Bill O'Brien is bad for my health.

Deshaun Watson may be too nice.
Well, if you're hoping for the most important human being pulling a check from the Texans to flex a little bit, and apply some heat on this O'Brien situation, think again....
Training camp begins in a little over six months. Heavy drinking began Sunday evening at about 6 p.m. Hope tank is on "EMPTY."

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
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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