Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will replace O’Brien as interim head coach. Team CEO and chairman Cal McNair announced the decision in a statement on Monday. Plans for the team’s general manager vacancy are unclear.
A statement from Cal McNair. pic.twitter.com/5JbZylPTbp— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 5, 2020
Rough start after controversial personnel moves
Following Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Texans are 0-4 a season after winning the AFC South. The disappointing start arrives after a series of high-profile personnel moves highlighted by the trade of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.
O’Brien spearheaded several controversial roster decisions in his capacity as general manager and failed to translate them into on-field success as head coach.
While declining to offer Hopkins an extension, the Texans signed left tackle Laremy Tunsil to a record extension worth $22 million per season, a deal that Tunsil reportedly negotiated directly with O’Brien without the guidance of an agent. Tunsil’s acquisition in 2019 arrived at a high price, as the Texans dealt two first-round draft picks to the Dolphins in a trade that also brought back wide receiver Kenny Stills in return.
Hopkins thriving in Arizona
Hopkins is on pace for an NFL-record 156 catches and career-high 1,588 yards in Arizona. The Texans, meanwhile, have the NFL’s 27th-ranked offense through four games.
The Texans promoted O’Brien to general manager in January after he had spent several months as the de facto general manager following the June 2019 ouster of Brian Gaine.
O’Brien spent six full seasons as Houston’s head coach in addition to the first four games of this season. The Texans finished 52-48 under O’Brien’s leadership and made the playoffs four times, winning two postseason games. Last year’s playoff run ended after the Texans blew a 24-0 lead to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional round.
Who will the Texans hire?
While Crennel will act as interim head coach, the Texans are expected to look outside the organization to fill the position full time.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is a prime head coaching candidate whose expertise could provide additional appeal to a team with a sputtering offense.
First-year Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady could have appeal, as well. Brady made his reputation as the architect of LSU’s historic passing game during their run to the national championship in 2019. He previously spent time as an assistant under Sean Payton with the New Orleans Saints.
A long shot the Texans could consider is Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. Would Houston reach out to the two-time NCAA champion head coach who won a title with Deshaun Watson?
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