HOUSTON – Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien will be collaborating with two new voices when it comes to play-calling in 2019. The promotion of tight ends coach Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator will give Kelly, who's worked on O'Brien's offensive staff since they arrived in Houston together from Penn State, a much larger role in the construction of the weekly game plan and a role in the play-calling.
Carl Smith is the new quarterbacks coach, a position he held for seven seasons with Russell Wilson in Seattle, and he has previous experience as a play-caller.
“I’m very excited about him, also. Real excited about Tim (Kelly), very excited about Carl. Carl brings a lot of experience to the table," O'Brien said.
"I’ve known Carl for a number of years. If you look at his résumé, he’s coached in a lot of different systems. He’s coached for different head coaches, primarily most recently for Pete Carroll who I have a ton of respect for out in Seattle, and also coached for Pete at Southern Cal. Carl has worked with a number of different types of quarterbacks. He’s called plays in systems, in different systems. He’s been in this system.
"He’s had tremendous success with a number of different quarterbacks and he has excellent relationships with all the quarterbacks that he’s coached. He’s worked as a coordinator, he’s worked as a passing game coordinator, he’s worked in the running game and he’s obviously coached quarterbacks for a lot of years, so we’re excited to have him," O'Brien added.
Smith will replace the departed Sean Ryan who left the team to be the quarterbacks coach with Detroit.
O'Brien felt it was time for Kelly to have a larger role in the offense.
“We believe this is an excellent change. Something that Tim Kelly has earned," O'Brien said.
"Timmy has an excellent knowledge of our offense, all aspects of it, whether it’s the passing game, the running game.
"The players have a great amount of respect for Tim. Tim ran a lot of the unit meetings this year, so he’s been trained and he’s ready to go. Timmy is an excellent young coach. I think he’s got a real bright future. We’re excited for him and we’re excited for our coaching staff to be able to promote Timmy," O'Brien continued.
As far as play-calling on offense, O'Brien continued to maintain as it has been in the past, it will be a collaborative effort.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that Tim Kelly is ready to call plays and that’s something that will always be, like I said, a collaborative effort. On the outside, people may say, ‘what does that mean?’ Well, there’s a lot that goes into a play call," O'Brien said.
Obviously, you don’t have a lot of time to make a play call but there’s a lot that goes into it. You need input from everybody quickly. So, whether it’s me calling the plays or Timmy calling the plays, it will always be what’s best for the team.
"It will always be, like I said, a collaborative effort of game planning during the week and then ‘OK, let’s see how this game is being played and let’s move from there.’ But we’ll make sure that we’re always doing what’s best for the team and that’s all part of this promotion of Tim," O'Brien added.
Three former Texans were also added to the staff and O'Brien was heppy to bring them aboard as they'd each indicatted a desire to coach when they were with the team being coached by O'Brien.
One of those players is Brian Cushing, who was hired as assistant strength and conditioning coach, but O'Brien noted he will likely also assist J.J. Moses with player development.
“Brian, obviously, brings so much passion for the Houston Texans. I think at the end of careers guys have a hard time. He had always expressed an interest to me in wanting to be a coach, possibly in the weight room, help with player development.
"He’ll help J.J. Moses on that side, too, with rookies. He’s going to help in the weight room. Brian, as I expressed when he was playing for us here, is a guy that meant a lot to me as a head coach coming into this league. He was a captain for us<" O'Brien said.
"The way that he laid it on the line for us every time that he played, it was really cool to have conversations with him about wanting to transition to this part of his career and we’re excited for him. I know he’s excited about the opportunity.”
Former quarterback T.J. Yates and linebacker Akeem Dent will serve as offensive and defensive assistants, respectively.
"T.J. was a guy that obviously has a great history here with the Texans. He has a father-in-law that was a longtime college coach. He understands coaching. He loves football," O'Brien said.
"What he did was he stayed in touch with me. He stayed in touch with me throughout the last year and a half, text messages, phone calls. He really has a passion for it, so we want to start him out. It’s kind of an entry level position, but we feel like with his brainpower, his background, that he’s somebody that can really bring a lot to our staff at that type of position."
Regarding Dent, O'Brien said, "When he was done playing about a year ago or a year and a half ago, he expressed an interest in wanting to coach, stayed in touch with me. Didn’t have a spot for him and then he went to Colorado State basically as volunteer.
"So, he went to Colorado State for no money, which obviously, he made some money as a pro football player, but he sacrificed and went out there and was a graduate assistant type of role for Colorado State for Mike Bobo who coached him at Georgia and had a connection there. So, he showed me that he really was serious about coaching and now he’s going to be a defensive assistant and help us at an entry level position. We really are excited about having him."