HOUSTON – The Bill O’Brien era is officially over in Houston. The 0-4 start to this 2020 season was enough for Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair to make a move now rather than wait deeper into the season or even after the season. McNair hasn’t not publicly commented other than in a team statement, reportedly had lost confidence in O’Brien and the direction the franchise was headed. This is the third 0-4 start in franchise history with the last coming in 2008 under Gary Kubiak but that team responded by finishing the season 8-8.
McNair didn’t feel a turnaround would occur unless he gave O’Brien, the teams General Manager since January, his walking papers which he did on an afternoon phone call to O’Brien. Associate Head Coach Romeo Crennel was tabbed by McNair as the Texans Interim Head Coach for the remainder of the season.
O’Brien has his high points during his tenure including four AFC South titles in six years but could never get the team out of the first round of the playoffs. He also made questionable moves by trading Jadeveon Clowney last January and most recently trading his top receiver Deandre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for draft picks and running back David Johnson.
Late Monday afternoon O’Brien, just 2 hours after learning of his dismissal agreed to meet with the media on a final exit news conference on zoom. Here are some of the top quotes from the now former Texans GM and Head Coach.
“I appreciate everybody jumping on here. I just wanted to say a few things and then take a couple of questions. Number one, I just really want to thank the McNair family – Cal, Janice, Hannah, obviously the late Bob McNair, for just giving me and my family this opportunity. They were always very supportive. In the end, in this business it’s a bottom-line business and we weren’t able to get it to where we needed to get it. I obviously have tremendous respect for their family and again, I thank them for the opportunity that they gave me.
I understand we fell short in terms of taking this team further in the playoffs, but I do leave knowing that myself and this staff gave everything this organization deserved and more. We worked very, very hard to try to get this to a place where it could be a championship program. We just didn’t get it done. I will leave here with very fond memories of the Houston Texans organization. Very fond memories of Houston. When my family and I came here in 2014, we had no idea what to expect. Houston is a great city. You think about Texas Children’s Hospital – what it’s done for my family, my son, Jack. We can’t thank Texas Children’s Hospital enough. Michael, my son Michael’s had a tremendous experience here living in West U and the friends that we’ve made here in Houston are lifelong friends. We really appreciate their friendship”
Most importantly to the players – I talked to the players briefly this afternoon and just thanked them. I told them I love them. I think these players are just awesome guys. They practiced hard. They tried to do everything we asked them to do. It was a pleasure coaching them and I’m going to miss seeing them every day. Just really – the guys that have been with me for seven years to the guys that were only here for a year. Every one of them are just tremendous guys. I’m just sorry we couldn’t get it done this year early on here. But I wish them the best. This is a good football team. Romeo (Crennel) stepped in. He’s an awesome, awesome coach and he’ll do a great job.
How surprised were you when Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Cal McNair informed you of his decision and what did you think about his decision?
“I respected the decision. Look, I know in this business – when we lost to Minnesota, a game we had a chance to win, give Minnesota credit they did a great job. I knew something like this could happen. That’s the business. You start off like that. But I have tremendous respect. Cal called me and we had a nice conversation. I thanked him for the opportunity. I told him that they’ve got a good team here and they’ll turn it around.”
Are you able to point to something that would have helped the team start the season better?
“You’ve known me for seven years, I don’t make excuses. We just didn’t do enough. Whatever it is. You look back on it, hindsight’s 20-20, right? The players played hard. We had a chance to win or at least tie the game at the end there the other day. If we had scored the touchdown and had been able to convert the two point, but we didn’t get it done. In the end, that’s on the head coach and I totally understand that. Looking back on it, I don’t regret anything we did, especially this time period with what’s gone on with the COVID protocols that we had to follow and all the different things we had to do. We just weren’t able to win games.”
Are there any decisions you made that you regret currently?
“I think that every decision we made was always in the best interest of the team. We had long conversations. We put a lot of research into them. There were things that happened within the walls of an organization that the outside public will really never know and that’s just the way it is. I totally understand that. We had a lot of great conversations that went into these decisions. A lot of research. We had a lot of people that helped us along the way. We made what we believed were the best decisions for the team. That’s what we always did.”
Do you feel like you’re leaving the Texans after seven years as a better coach and leader than when you got here?
“I believe I am. You learn a lot about yourself in these situations. I learned a lot about myself at Penn State. I learned a lot about myself here in Houston. Look, experience is the best teacher, right? You gain experience. You try to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. You always try to think about that. What’s best for the team? You work very hard. You put in a lot of time in and you put your heart and soul into the organization. Sometimes things don’t work out, but you definitely learn a lot about yourself. You really are thankful for the people around you. The people that really worked with you, whether it was Jack Easterby or the coaching staff or the trainers, the strength coaches, the cafeteria people that come in at 4:30 in the morning every morning to cook the breakfast. I just have a strong relationship – the PR department that’s here right now. I have a strong relationship with all these people – equipment staff. You just really appreciate all those people and all the help they gave you to try to bring a championship to Houston.”