HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) — Maybe the biggest bet of the Houston Texans offseason: promoting Mike Vrabel to defensive coordinator, and making Romeo Crennel assistant head coach.
Heading into the regular season opener with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Vrabel’s debut as an NFL play-caller, head coach Bill O’Brien said he’s fully confident in what Vrabel can do.
“Look, he’s been playing and coaching for a long time,” O’Brien said. “Maybe obviously playing more, relative to his years, but he’s a very, very intelligent guy. A very sharp guy. Really understands his players, his players really understand him, and he’s gonna do a great job.”
Defense has been a constant for the Texans under O’Brien.
They’ve ranked in the top 11 in points allowed every year since 2014, and were No. 1 in the NFL in yards allowed last season — even with Brock Osweiler pulling the offense to historic lows.
So removing Crennel, and installing Vrabel, doesn’t come without risk. Even if Vrabel is so highly thought of around the league (he was at one point set to interview for the Los Angeles Rams head coaching job this offseason, and was offered the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator gig in 2016) and in his own building.
Still, O’Brien seems certain that Vrabel will thrive.
“Any time you’re doing something for the first time, there’s a little bit of unknown for you, yourself,” O’Brien said. “I can remember the first time I ever called plays in this league, or the first time I ever called plays in a game in college. There’s always that. You just have to stay laser-focused, and try to get a good feel for how the game is going.”