O'Brien "one of the best" coaches Belichick has had

Bill Belichick is usually a man of few words.

This week, he's been effusive in his praise towards his former offensive coordinator, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien.

Belichick hired O'Brien as an offensive assistant in 2007 in his first NFL coaching job. Eight years later, the two head coaches will be preparing against one another for the first time in their careers as Houston faces New England Sunday night.

"I think Bill is a great coach, one of the best that I've had," Belichick said Wednesday. "He's right up there with all those guys. Very unusual to do what he did, to go from a coordinator position to a quality control position on our staff, but I think that shows you his work ethic, the confidence he has in himself."

O'Brien coached wide receivers the following season, when Matt Cassel replaced Tom Brady after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening game against Kansas City. O'Brien then took over the quarterbacks in 2009-10 before being promoted to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2011. In that 2011 season, the Patriots ranked third in the NFL in scoring, second in total offense and advanced to Super Bowl XLVI with O'Brien coordinating the offense.

"After Josh [McDaniels] left, he had the opportunity to work with the quarterbacks and be the offensive coordinator," Belichick said. "I thought he did a great job with the staff, with the players and he was a big reason for a lot of our success during that timeframe. Bill has great leadership. He's really smart, but he's got a toughness about him and also that permeates to the team."

Now in his second year as head coach, O'Brien is quick to spread the accolades after being told what Belichick has said. The two have remained good friends since O'Brien's departure from the Patriots in 2012.

"I appreciate that; I think he's being really nice," O'Brien said. "We had a great head coach. We had great players, really excellent coaching staff. The guys that I worked with over the five years I was there, they were great football coaches: Josh McDaniels, Dante Scarnecchia, that whole offensive staff. Nick Caserio is a great friend of mine who is personnel director now, but at that time he was coaching. So I appreciate those comments, coming from him they obviously mean a lot but that was just a great team, great coaching staff."

Sunday's matchup has playoff implications for both teams, the Texans looking to secure either a division title or a playoff berth and New England looking to gain home field advantage and improve their seeding.

The (6-6) Texans will host the (10-2) Patriots on Battle Red Day presented by Halliburton this Sunday at NRG Stadium. The game will be featured on NBC's Sunday Night Football with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. CT.

The Texans faithful showed up at Ralph Wilson Stadium to support their team against the Bills.

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