Bill O'Brien was only the general manager, officially, of the Houston Texans for a little over a year or so, but in that time he made several trajectory-altering decisions for the franchise, most of them poor decisions. He traded DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney for 40 cents on the dollar. He traded third round picks for Duke Johnson and Gareon Conley. He gave out bloated contracts to Whitney Mercilus, Randall Cobb, and Eric Murray.
All of those deals make the swap of two first round picks and a second rick for left tackle Laremy Tunsil look sane, by comparison. In the biggest dollar moves of his tenure, O'Brien also gave hefty, market-setting contract extensions to Tunsil and quarterback Deshaun Watson. So amidst a sea of ineptitude, at least the two big dollar contracts were somewhat validated on Monday night, as Tunsil and Watson were both named to the 2021 Pro Bowl.
Per Texans media relations, in an email to the media:
Houston Texans T Laremy Tunsil and QB Deshaun Watson were named to the 2021 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced today. This marks the 17th-consecutive season (2004-20) that the Texans have had at least one player selected to the Pro Bowl.
Tunsil has been selected to his second-consecutive Pro Bowl (2019-20) after starting 13 games at left tackle this season, becoming only the second offensive lineman to earn consecutive Pro Bowl selections in franchise history. He has helped the Texans offense average the fourth-highest yards per play (6.11) and third-most passing yards per game (275.4) in the NFL. Tunsil has protected Watson, who set single-season career highs in passing touchdowns (27), passing yards per attempt (8.76) and passer rating (110.6). The fifth-year tackle has only allowed 2.0 sacks on the season and tied a single-season career low of seven penalties.
Watson, who will be making his third-career and third-consecutive Pro Bowl (2018-20), is 330-for-472 passing (69.9 percent) for 4,134 yards, 27 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 110.6 passer rating this season. He leads the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.76) while also ranking second in both passing yards (4,134) and passer rating (110.6). Watson is tied for second in completions of 20-or-more yards (56) and tied for ninth with 27 passing touchdowns. In Weeks 4-9, Watson became the fifth quarterback in NFL history and the first since Peyton Manning in 2013 to record at least 275 passing yards and a 105.0 passer rating in five consecutive games. He also became the only quarterback in each of the past two seasons, and the eighth in NFL history to throw for over 250 passing yards and one passing touchdown in each of the first eight games of a season.
At 4-10, the Texans are playing out the string ON the field these next two weeks, but soon enough, the battle OFF the field will heat up for a new head coach and general manager. The Carolina Panthers just fired their GM on Monday, adding another team to the pool battling for front office talent. Franchise quarterback and foundational left tackle are two of the hardest things in the NFL to find, and while Bill O'Brien may have overpaid for both — DEFINITELY overpaid for the left tackle — they are in house and locked in for the next GM and head coach. That helps.
There's not a ton to love about this Texans roster, but Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil are two very positive attributes of the organization, and their peers and the fans recognized as much on Monday.