Houston (CBS Houston) – On Friday, Bob McNair fired Gary Kubiak. The search for the next head coach is on, but the next leading man must have two distinct qualities:
1.) An Offensive Mind
Owners tend to hire defensive coaches after firing offensive ones and vice versa. McNair must avoid this temptation. The main priority for the third coach in Texans history will be drafting and developing a ‘franchise quarterback’. Franchise quarterbacks have developed under defensive head coaches, but a young QB will benefit from the extra coaching and tutelage that an experienced offensive mind offers.
A dynamic quarterback is the single most important piece to a successful team. Yes, the Texans have holes at other positions. So do the Colts, Patriots, Broncos, Lions, and Saints. But having a dynamic quarterback has allowed them to overcome those deficiencies faster than addressing them individually. Selecting and developing a new quarterback will make or break the next head coach and will likely determine the Texans fate for the next decade.
2.) A proven track record of establishing a winning culture based on accountability
The magic word ‘accountability’ — The Texans need it. Not the coach-speak meaning of the word, but instead the fear/motivation of knowing that every meeting, practice rep, and snap could cost you your job. The Texans entered training camp without a single starting position up for grabs and Matt Schaub kept his starting job long past his time. That easy going culture has hindered the Texans for the last eight years. It must be changed.
What about a winning culture? Plenty of coaches have won without establishing it. But few can create it. An environment so focused and intense that it produces the best possible result regardless of talent. It’s imperative the next head coach uproots the ‘awe shucks’ culture and instills a need-to-win mentality on an every second basis.
Where Bill O’Brien Fits In
An offensive mind, check. A proven track record of creating a winning culture, check.
With O’Brien handling the play calling duties in New England, Tom Brady threw for a career high in yards in 2009 and had his second and third highest QB ratings in 2010 & 2011.
But it’s Tom Brady. Anyone can have success with Tom Brady, right? Let me enter into evidence Matt McGloin. The former walk-on flourished in his one year under O’Brien at Penn State. He threw for 3,271 yards and 24 touchdowns his senior year, more than the rest of his career combined. His NFL career is young and his future is unknown but the early returns are promising for an undrafted former walk-on. Without Bill O’Brien, McGloin might not even be on an NFL practice squad, much less starting on Sundays.
True freshman Christian Hackenberg, O’Briens latest project, won Big-Ten freshman of the year. Simply put, O’Brien’s ability to develop young quarterbacks is as good as it gets on the open market.
His ability to establish culture is second to none. He chose to enter a difficult situation at Penn State and handled it masterfully. He took over a program with 46 years of ingrained culture and within weeks had completely changed the way it operated. Not only did he change it, but he changed it for the better with a mountain of odds stacked against him. His players take to his fiery intensity and they play with it on the field. More importantly they carry it with them to the meeting room and the practice field.
Oh yeah, there’s that whole ‘Patriot Way’ he’s somewhat familiar with. Under Bill O’Brien, your job is to perform. If you don’t, he will find somebody that will. I know it sounds like such a novel idea with this current Texans regime, but his no-nonsense straight to business mentality would benefit the Texans. They desperately need to distance themselves from the ‘good ole boy’ way of doing things.
According to reports, O’Brien’s buyout is around $6.75 million. Not exactly cheap, but not outrageous if you believe he is the man for the job.
Based on my logic, a similar argument could be made for Stanford’s David Shaw. He’s tutored a great quarterback and learned under Jim Harbaugh. But O’Brien holds the edge in one key category, NFL experience. Shaw has spent time with the Raiders, Eagles, and Ravens but never progressed past assistant coach. He also inherited a well oiled machine at Stanford, but give him credit, he’s continued the success started by Harbaugh.
O’Brien may not want to leave Penn State and he may not want to be the next head coach of the Texans. If Bob McNair is serious about turning this franchise around he will hire an offensive head coach with a proven record of establishing a winning culture. The man with those credentials is out there.
Bob McNair, meet Bill O’Brien. He will take you to the promise land. Bill O’Brien, meet Bob McNair. He’s got a great opportunity he’d like to discuss with you.
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