Bill O’Brien’s path to success, or slightly above average success, is one that I cannot comprehend. He’s not a bad coach by any means. His NFL record is 54-48, which is better than many NFL coaches. But we aren’t talking about that, we are talking about his preposterous rise. This man has had the best failing forward story of all time. He somehow has gotten more promotions and control from the Texans after one playoff win, while constantly neglecting Deshaun Watson’s needs. He was made GM in 2020, and his first move was to trade De’Andre Hopkins, what a pinhead move. This isn’t his first time stumbling into a favorable position either, despite being average at his previous other duties. Let’s go back to beginning of Bill O’Brien’s bizarre rise to becoming the 2nd current HC/GM in the NFL, the other being Bill Belichick. God, I need some Bill O’Brien luck.
Bill O’Brien is not an idiot. In fact, he’s probably one of the smarter guys in the league. He went to Brown, ever heard of it? He only played for 2 years, but then moved into coaching at Brown upon hanging the cleats up. He was listed as a tight ends and linebackers coach, but he was still a college kid. So like all college kids who work, he had no impact on what the team did. Nonetheless, O’Brien went to Georgia Tech in ’95 to be a grad assistant, which eventually led to his rise throughout the offensive coaching ranks to become the OC/QB coach in the ’01-’02 season. Success at GT led to him moving over to ACC foe, Maryland, as a running backs coach for a cup of coffee, and then O’Brien took the OC/QB coach position at Duke. Like Maryland, Duke was a one year stop for O’Brien, where he probably deceiving recruits for his own personal career climb (a common theme in O’Brien’s career).
After Duke is where O’Brien really makes his push, and this is where I think being a Brown educated man has helped him, or has just blinded his superiors in thinking he’s smarter than everyone else. O’Brien left college ball for the pros in ’07, as an offensive assistant with the New England Patriots under Belichick. In ’08 he was promoted to the Wide Receivers coach, and then from “09-’10, he was Tom Brady’s QB coach. O’Brien then got his first major coaching role as the Pats OC in 2011, which ended in a Super Bowl loss. He had success in the Patriots system, but is it really him? Anyone can coach in Belichick’s system, you just listen to Bill. Up until this point he hadn’t had to be the guy. Belichick runs the entire system in New England, and he likes to have smart, local guys around him, which O’Brien was, but was he head coach material? At the NFL level, not yet, but at the college level? Yeah, most definitely.
Everyone knows I HATE Penn State. Been a PSU hater since as early as I can remember, probably around ’01-’02 is when I realized I’d never be apart of that cult. However, I loved the Bill O’Brien hire after the Paterno firing, and Sandusky fall out. For as much as you hate a team, you never want to see a program go through something like that, so I was glad my home state university was making a move in a positive, non kid touching, direction. O’Brien’s first year at PSU was great. He went 8-4 with limited scholarships available, and then went 7-5 in his second year. Considering he had Christian Hackenberg as his QB and less scholarship players on his roster, that’s one hell of a run at a Big Ten school. However, in typical Bill O’Brien fashion, he jumps ship and can’t be loyal. After his first year at PSU, media speculations and sources claimed he was going to be leaving for the NFL, but he denied them and stayed. That wasn’t the case in year 2, when he left for the HC job with the Houston Texans. Yet again misleading and abusing player trust.
Up to this point Bill O’Brien has had a good career, but is it good enough to be an NFL HC AND General Manager? The numbers, and consistency with one program, say no. O’Brien has proved that he can coach in the NFL though. He’s made the playoffs a few times, only winning one game, but has a plus .500 record, which is better than most. But is it good enough to be named the General Manager as well? Hell no.
I’m not even mad at O’Brien, I’m jealous. I want this massive rise despite not doing anything remarkable, or showing consistent commitment to a program for more than a cup of coffee. Best of luck though Bill, maybe you can win one more playoff game and become the owner of the Texans too.