Bill O’Brien Takes Second Place In NFL Coach Of The Year Voting
Following two incredible years in Happy Valley, Bill O’Brien took his talents to the Lone Star state last January, accepting the head coaching job with the Houston Texans. Living up to his Penn State nickname of “Bob the Rebuilder,” O’Brien helped turn the cellar-dwelling Texans into a fringe playoff contender in his first NFL season.
In 2013, the Texans finished dead last among all 32 NFL franchises with a 2-14 record, earning the first pick of the draft, which they would use to select defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. With incumbent quarterback Matt Schaub shipped to the Oakland Raiders before the season, O’Brien, known for his ability to develop quarterbacks (see Hackenberg, Christian) was left with journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and fifth-round pick Tom Savage as the team’s signal callers.
Despite a lack of talent at the league’s most important position, O’Brien steered the Texans to a 9-7 record, thanks mostly to the stellar play of J.J. Watt. Although the Texans had the good fortune of owning the league’s easiest schedule according to Football Outsiders, O’Brien’s signature win came in Week 16, as Houston defeated the Baltimore Ravens, a team that came within four points of knocking off the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in the playoffs.
O’Brien’s 9-7 record is the best in franchise history by a first-year coach.
“Nine and seven is progress, but it’s not the mission,” O’Brien told HoustonTexans.com. “I think we all know what the mission is. Nine and seven is progress, but progress isn’t good enough. The mission here is to win. To win. I think our players understand that and they know there is a lot more out there for us as we head into the future.”
While O’Brien refused to accept any praise for turning the team around, his players made it known just how much they appreciated the first-year coach’s performance.
“Anytime you’ve got a coach go through what he went through with three or four quarterbacks in one year, everyone knows how hard it is to win without a quarterback,” nine-year veteran cornerback Jonathan Joseph said. “He turned it around and came this year with plus-seven wins compared to last year. He got everyone on board and buying into things that he wants from a football team.”
“On top of that, he’s a tremendous coach,” Joseph added. “I just think anytime you have all those qualities and bundle it up into one season, I think he is deserving of it.”
While it was the Arizona Cardinals’ Bruce Arians that won the NFL’s Coach of the Year honors after an 11-5 season and a playoff berth, O’Brien can still take pride in knowing he was favored over some of the best in the business. O’Brien’s three votes were more than Super Bowl coaches Pete Carroll (2.5) and Bill Belichick (1).
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