O’Brien On Texans OL: “I’m Going To Play The Best Five Guys”

By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) – The Texans offensive line got off to an awful start in their season opener against the Jaguars. It was so bad, that the term “Sacksonville” actually became a thing. Allowing 10 sacks can do that, I guess.

Things were far from perfect against the Bengals just a few days later, allowing 3 sacks in the Texans 13 – 9 win. But by default, they improved. And Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is feeling better about the unit entering week three.

“I think they improved the whole game. I think that those guys played a much better game. Again, I would say the big thing is, I think this is something we always say, that it’s an improvement league, so we have to keep trying to get better. It’s a different challenge this week.”

The major difference Thursday? Greg Mancz started at right guard for the injured Jeff Allen, while Chris Clark subbed for Kendall Lamm at left tackle.

“I thought they played pretty solid, tough,” said O’Brien of the two. “Mancz did some good things in there and Mancz, more than likely, will continue to be the right guard.”

O’Brien was asked about tinkering with an offensive line, and why it’s so easy to rotate defensive linemen into the game compared to offensive linemen.

“I go back and forth on that a little bit,” said O’Brien. “I think that a lot of times the chemistry and the communication of the offensive line is a little bit different relative to having five guys that play together that really understand, you know – hey, they almost speak for each other – meaning they see it through the same set of eyes. It’s a little bit different. They have to see the whole picture sometimes, maybe more so than a defensive lineman. A lot of times, defensive linemen are basically maybe one-gapping or two-gapping and it doesn’t require too much communication. I think it has a lot to do with the communication of the offensive line. You try to keep the same five guys together. But, at the same time, when I say I go back and forth on that, I’m going to play the best five guys. I’m going to play the guys that are playing the best. That’s what we’re going to try to do moving forward and make it competitive in practice and try to put the best five out there.”

No matter who is on the line, the protection that they provide Deshaun Watson will likely be one of the biggest keys to the rest of the season and to his future development.

“I don’t really care if you’re young or if you’re a veteran quarterback, you need guys up front that are blocking well for you (and) give you time to throw the ball,” said O’Brien about the importance of the unit. “And like I said, I thought the other night, it wasn’t just the line, I thought the backs helped. The backs did a great job of helping on the edge and Lamar Miller did a nice job picking up blitzes. Tight ends, also. We had Evan Baylis last week. Hopefully get (Ryan) Griffin and (Stephen) Anderson back this week. But all those guys combined, if they can give the quarterback a little bit of time, regardless of whether he’s a rookie or a veteran, that’s big.”

Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesday 9-11 PM CT, Wednesdays and Fridays 8-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.

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