In Part 2 of Mad Radio’s candid “Mad Conversation” visit with Texans head coach Bill O’Brien Mike and Seth discuss the emotions and challenges the Texans head coach endures off the field, the difference between coaching in the NFL and college and more. Plus, why O’Brien takes blame for the recent offensive struggles, what needs to change and why he’s encouraged by what he saw from the Texans in the spring. Part three will air Wednesday, June 21, 2017 on Mad Radio.
On when he knew he wanted to get into coaching: “I just loved sports, from day one. I knew that I was never going to be a professional athlete. I loved being on teams, being a part of a team and enjoyed the strategy of the time so I knew early on.”
On smarts off the field translating to smarts on the field: “Sometimes there’s not a correlation between a highly intelligent guy and a really good athlete, but when there is that correlation or there is a guy that’s instinctive and smart and does really well in school and he can apply what you’re teaching him on in a football world on the field those a lot of times are the best players I’ve ever coached. I’ve been fortunate enough going back to college to coach guys that maybe they had different levels of athleticism, but to coach guys, some of the brightest guy I know I have coached. That’s kind of formed my belief in having a lot of guys on your team and not only that, they’re mature, they understand the work ethic, they understand the sitting in meetings, they understand what it takes to practice at a high level. You know, there’s just a lot of that that I really believe in”
On the challenges and rewards of raising a kid with special needs: “It has changed everything for me. Sometimes I get emotional about this and I apologize, but he (Jack) will be 15 in August and when he was born we had a doctor tell us that he wouldn’t live past the age of two. To us he’s a miracle, he’s changed our perspective on a lot of things, what’s important in life, what’s not important in life. Football’s important, football’s very, very important, but in the end the thing that’s most important is taking care of your family and making sure you’re doing the best job you can to support your wife because in the end she takes care of Jack 24/7… Every nervous feeling I have in coach whether it’s before a big meeting or big game I think about Jack, I’ve learned more from Jack than he’ll ever learn from me. ”
On the challenges of raising Michael along with Jack and how much his wife (Colleen) means to him and the family: “Look, you would never wish having a child like Jack on your worst enemy, you know. It’s a tough deal, but what happens is when you have it and you have a wife like Colleen you learn about mental toughness from your wife right away. As a dad you’re sitting there going this is tough and then you look at your wife and she’s like, shut up, this is what it is and we’re moving forward. We decided to have another child and when Michael was born it was unbelievable, they did an MRI on his brain and found out that he was as healthy as a horse and it was just a great time for our family and since then, not to brag on my son, but I think it has given him really great perspective on life. He plays with Jack, he reads to Jack, he spends time with Jack, he cares about Jack. If Jack has a seizure he wants to know if Jack’s ok. So I think in many ways even though he doesn’t have a big brother to go play ball with he has a big brother that has given him a great perspective on life.”
On the biggest differences between coaching in college and the NFL: “I’ve always struggled to answer this question because I know there are a lot of jobs out there that are difficult so it’s relative to number one, the job of a head football coach. If you’re not passionate about being a football coach then you should be doing something else. Whatever you want to do make sure you’re passionate about it so as long as you love what you’re doing you’re able to multi-task. The recruiting (in college) it’s 50 percent X’s and O’s and 50 percent recruiting and it might even be more than that to the side of recruiting. You have to budget time during the day, as a head coach you’re not doing as much daily recruiting, the assistants are. I enjoyed that, that you could actually get to know a family and you could really get to know a kid, I really enjoyed a lot of that, but it definitely was something you had to budget (time), but in professional football it’s all football. Now you’re getting ready for free agency and the draft, but you’re studying tape and you’re talking football. I would say that’s one of the major differences, you have to budget time for recruiting. The other difference is at Penn State because of the situation we were in we did a lot of traveling around the mid-Atlantic, the Pennsylvania area to try to boost morale to say to people this was a horrendously horrible thing that happened here, but this place will survive and we’ll learn from that, it will never happen again and we’re gonna go win football games and so that was a part of my job, too. You gotta be a good organizer, you have to multi-task and you have to deal with the tasks at hand.”
On the defense carrying the load the last couple years and the offense struggling: “One of the things about offensively here is we’ve been way too inconsistent. Last year we weren’t very good. You know, I look in the mirror on that, I definitely look in the mirror on that and think of ways to improve and so what I’ve come up with over the last six months is we have to do a couple things. We’ve got to play faster. I’m not talking about no-huddle, I’m not talking about anything like that. I’m saying we have to get in and out of the huddle faster, we have to play with a better rhythm, we have to do better on 1st and 10… And we have to simplify for our players, I’m not talking about anybody but myself, we’ve got to be able to say to out player one word means this, do to it. Or , hey you’re always going to be here on this play and they may know it, but too bad, this it what we’re going to do and we’re going to execute it and I think our players have bought into that this spring. We have a lot of players on both sides of the ball, we had a lot of fun and were able to pick up our pace of play. I don’t mean that we’re going to be going at this warp speed, but I think there willl be a better rhythm. Now (laughs), there’s a caveat here. You will not see that in the preseason so to the fans out there and we love the fans, you guys are important, but everything that we’ve worked on in the offseason, we’re going to just line up and play football during the preseason.”
O’Brien also weighed in on the difficulty of getting coaching jobs, the importance of his wife, his journey into coaching and more. Check out the podcast below and part three of the visit Wednesday on Mad Radio on Sportsradio 610.