To be clear: O’Brien has coached the Texans for six seasons, a streak in which his regular season record of 52-44 was the fifth best in the AFC. In other words, O’Brien is It’s okay as head coach. But now that he’s had a chance to push staff decisions for two consecutive seasons – and in January he officially received the GM title, LOL -, it’s fair to wonder if anyone should pick up their keys on this side of the building.
Last week, O’Brien traded a second-round pick (# 57 overall) in next week’s draft against the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for wide Brandin Cooks and a fourth round in 2022. The cooks will turn 28 in September and he can certainly be a great receiver. But he is also part of his fourth team in five seasons, and he comes from far the least productive year of his NFL career – a season in which he suffered two concussions in the space of a month.
It also seems to be a year in which the project is rich in enlargements, and young expanders on cost-controlled contracts would be particularly valuable for a team with a quarterback like Deshaun Watson, who is now eligible for an extension. So, naturally, O’Brien has given up on more asset projects to chase a previous error.
That’s right: in March, O’Brien traded DeAndre Hopkins, one of the game’s key receivers, to the Arizona Cardinals for a second-round pick and ball carrier David Johnson. Hopkins has just completed a 104-catch season, a year after he failed to drop a pass. So consider the return of the Texans trying not to die of laughter. First, there is this:
Then consider that Johnson plays a position with a relatively short lifespan in a league where the runners have become extremely replaceable. This is where you need to remember that Johnson is 29 years old and has a cap of over $ 11.1 million. I want to say …
After the deal ended, O’Brien and the Texans tried to whitewash the decision through the press. Did you know that Hopkins wanted a new deal because he was short-sighted enough to accept a contract in the summer of 2017 which came to an end for a ridiculous five years, a good deal for Texans because of all the increases salary cap? And did you know that Hopkins would have bad practice habits that made it a handicap and a bad influence? Who else is amazed that it all came out after O’Brien sent it for a new power strip and a T-shirt.
These moves would be just another tuba solo if it weren’t for the extra keyless orchestration that O’Brien provided last summer by swapping two first round picks plus a second round for left forward Laremy Tunsil. Undoubtedly, the Texans needed a left tackle after trading Duane Brown with the Seattle Seahawks in October 2017. In 2018, the Texans ranked last in the NFL in terms of adjusted bag rates, by Football Outsiders , and the absence of a left tackle was a huge factor. O’Brien was right to support this. His mistake was in what he did not do.
The Texans have not signed Tunsil to an extension of the trade deal; as a result, a solid player at one of the main positions in the game still has a year on a rookie after the team that negotiated for him gave up a king’s ransom to acquire his services. It’s not hard to see that Tunsil has the upper hand at the bargaining table, knowing that the Texans may have to pay him a ton to keep him from hitting the market next year, where he would be sure to cash .
O’Brien got his start with the New England Patriots, where Bill Belichick experienced staff control in addition to coaching, resulting in 20 years of unprecedented domination that includes six Super Bowl titles. Belichick’s coaching tree is primarily a large strain surrounded by tattered CVs from those who have attempted to replicate his authoritarian method.
O’Brien is the one who seems determined to try to exercise this same type of global control. Coaches tend to want to be successful now, while GMs are looking to do the same, keeping an eye on the years to come. O’Brien’s movements seem to have the peculiarity of preparing the Texans for the kind of future that neither succeeds.
Dom Cosentino is a senior feature editor for theScore.