Bill O'Brien, with his ever-present towel around the neck, has a hands-on approach to coaching and is fired up about OTAs. The Texans new head coach can be seen in the middle of the field during practice and then off among different position groups, sometimes yelling encouragement, sometimes just, well, yelling.
"I always try to get around, especially during individual really because I want to see the guys working and see how they're improving," O'Brien said. "I want to hear the teaching. I love listening to how all the guys teach and their different styles. The benefit of being a
head coach (is) you can go around and get a lot of that done during the individual and what I try to do once we go to group periods is spend most of my time with the offense but I'm over there with the defense a good amount of the time listening to what they are doing, trying to give little coaching tidbits here and there."
O'Brien loves the teaching aspect of football. Between evaluating what happens on the practice field every day to making adjustments to incorporating changes, the coaches are busy from the early hours of dawn to late nights at NRG Stadium. The only way to sustain a coach's lifestyle in the NFL is to love the job, according to O'Brien.
"I view coaching as being a teacher," O'Brien said. "That's a large aspect of what my job is. I love getting prepared for the team meetings in the morning. I really enjoy going out on the field and teaching guys and watching guys improve. To me, it's really neat to teach somebody something, watch them take that teaching and go out and get better and help him go make a play. That's a part of coaching that's really important to me and to all of our coaches."
The Texans took part in Day 2 of OTA's Wednesday morning at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
It is certainly different from his days at Penn State. While some consider O'Brien a first-year head coach, he'll be the first to correct anyone who assumes so in his own no-nonsense, but still likeable way of doing things.
"Well, I know you guys don't think of college as being a head coach but I was a head coach for two years at Penn State," he said to a reporter on Wednesday when asked about being a new head coach.
All semantics aside, O'Brien knows there are major difference in coaching NCAA players and those who are seasoned veterans. The biggest difference between college and the NFL is the tempo, both for players and coaches. For coaches, evaluation and adjustments are made but have to be taught at a much faster pace in the NFL.
"We speed up the process with which we give them information, if that makes sense,"
O'Brien said. "So, if we're in college, maybe we take a week to teach two or three runs whereas here, we're putting in two or three runs in a day. Then the next day, we're putting in two or three more runs in so it's just more the tempo of how we install."
These days, O'Brien and his staff will watch every rep of OTA practice nightly. The coaches will spend their days multi-tasking between evaluating what they see and teaching it to players. Like their players, coaches are also expected to be versatile. Position coaches help out in a variety of roles on the field, for instance, on special teams drills.
"When you're coaching at this level, it's a privilege and our guys understand that," O'Brien said. "They really do work well with a lot of different positions and a lot of different roles."