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Vandermeer's View: O'Brien Era Underway


Like an incoming U.S. President, Bill O'Brien's first 100 days will be heavily scrutinized and go a long way toward how his tenure with the Texans plays out. In the next three months, the staff be will be in place, most of the unwanted or 'too-expensive' players will be released, free agents will be signed and the QB decision should be made. Then we'll have the entire draft.

O'Brien hit the ground running (or is it throwing?) upon his arrival Thursday. I was on the plane with him as we jetted from the Northeast. He asked plenty of detailed questions about everything from the layout of Reliant Stadium to particulars about Houston. I asked about everything from practice philosophy to whether he misses the grilled sticky buns at Ye Olde College Diner at Penn State (they're unbelievable).

The turning point of O'Brien's career was joining the Patriots. I asked him about this during our visit in the Hyundai Texans Radio Studio. O'Brien had worked as an offensive coordinator at Duke and at Georgia Tech. He took a job as an offensive assistant with New England in 2007, taking a pay cut and a leap of faith.

A few years later he gets the job at Penn State. Had he not done well with the Nittany Lions then he might have never shaken the stereotype of being a Bill Belichick disciple who can't cut it as a head coach.  He was never a true 'Belichick guy' anyway, having cut his coaching teeth long ago with the likes of George O'Leary.

When the reports flowed in of mass firings of the incumbent Texans staff, you couldn't be surprised. Coaches like to pick their own people. You would too. And these guys will likely land on their feet. Coaches like Vic Fangio and Greg Roman were shown the door in 2006. Now they're hot properties.

O'Brien is just getting warmed up. We will see a very different version of the Houston Texans in 2014. He's getting started with the staff which is bound to be followed by a heavy overhaul of the roster as well. He wasn't here for 2-14 or for the AFC South Championship seasons. He has no muscle memory with the individuals involved. He'll just do whatever he thinks is necessary to build this franchise back into a winner.

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