Houston Texans are rudderless with Bill O’Brien in charge

The Houston Texans are worse off than they were two months ago when their season ended.

Owner Cal McNair can spin it, head coach Bill O’Brien can explain why that isn’t the case, but don’t be fooled. The proof is in the moves made — and in some cases not made — throughout their offseason.

Of course, the biggest disaster was trading three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Somehow, Houston didn’t get a first-round pick in return, and took on the bloated salary of running back David Johnson. All the Texans received was a 2020 second-round choice and a swap of 2021 fourth-round selections.


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On a Friday conference call with season-ticket holders, O’Brien relayed his thoughts behind the deal, per ESPN:

“I would say the deal with Arizona was a deal that we felt was in the best interest of our team. DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player here. He made so many plays for us. We love DeAndre Hopkins. But he had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise. And we weren’t going to be able to go in that direction. We felt like we had a great offer from Arizona that involved picks. That involved an excellent three-down running back who is hungry and humble and just can’t wait to get started. David Johnson is going to be a great addition to our football team.

While O’Brien does deserve credit for answering the question in-depth, the reasoning still comes up empty.

Houston didn’t need to give Hopkins a raise. The Texans could have simply declined and Hopkins would have had no choice but to play, save for maybe holding out in OTAs and minicamp. In that scenario, you keep the Hall of Fame player 100 times out of 100 and move on.


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Instead, O’Brien decided the raise request was a line in the sand. Frankly, the Texans have cap space to burn. They should have tacked on some guaranteed money and been thrown a few easily-attainable incentives in Hopkins’ deal. They didn’t, and now the offense is significantly worse.

However, O’Brien’s offseason wasn’t complete.

The coach/GM signed aging receiver Randall Cobb to a three-year deal worth $27 million. This, despite every veteran receiver, most better than Cobb at this stage, having to settle for one-year and the occasional two-year contracts with the incoming draft class being historic at the position.

Cobb posted 55 catches for 828 yards and three touchdowns last year with the Dallas Cowboys. Good numbers, but a significant risk on a receiver turning 30 years old in August.

He allowed star nose tackle D.J. Reader — only 25 years old — to leave for the Cincinnati Bengals. His only move to address one of the league’s worst secondaries was adding safety Eric Murray. Murray, who made four starts last year for the Cleveland Browns and notched 24 tackles, somehow got a three-year, $20 million deal.

Anybody objectively looking at Houston will come to the same conclusion. The Houston Texans are trending down, and O’Brien’s moves are the driving force.

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