Houston (AP) — Bill O'Brien got a bit antsy as his introductory press conference with the Houston Texans started to drag on and a question was posed about how much he knows about his new team.
a lot of work to do on this team and the sooner that I can get back to
my office and start that work, it'll be better," he said straight-faced
as the rest of the room erupted in laughter.
Less than two years
after replacing Joe Paterno as coach at Penn State, the 44-year-old
O'Brien has returned to the NFL as coach of the Houston Texans. He was
an offensive assistant under Bill Belichick at New England from
2007-12, but the Penn State job was his first as a head coach.
Now he gets the Texans, who spiraled to an NFL-worst 2-14 record last
showed that he has the ability to step into difficult situations and
turn them around," Houston owner Bob McNair said. "He did that at Penn
State under very difficult circumstances and did an outstanding job
there. We expect to see good things happen immediately."
was 15-9 at Penn State, hit hard by NCAA sanctions levied for the Jerry
Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that cost the late Paterno his job.
takes over for Gary Kubiak, who was fired with three games left in the
Texans' dismal season. Despite Houston's collapse, many believe it is a
plum position because the Texans have many talented pieces in place and
could make a quick turnaround. Houston won consecutive AFC South titles
before this year's disaster.
O'Brien said he planned to meet
with Houston's assistant coaches on Friday and begin making decisions
on who will make up his staff.
After his first season at Penn
State, O'Brien interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, among others, only to stay in State College. This time the lure
of the NFL was too strong to resist.
"I do regret not being able
to continue with the great kids on that team," O'Brien said. "While I
tried never to mislead anyone, I understand that some people feel let
down. But again, it was a decision that was a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity for me."
He said an attractive aspect of this job
was Houston's world-class medical center. O'Brien's 11-year-old son
Jack can't walk or talk because of a rare neurological disorder that
also causes seizures.
Almost exactly two years ago, O'Brien
fidgeted with a water bottle while taking questions from reporters at
his introductory news conference at Penn State. He said then that he
couldn't wait to get going, and he feels that way in Houston, too.
first-time NFL head coach was relaxed and confident throughout most of
his first press conference in Houston. He did squirm a little when
asked about his lack of ties to Texas in following Houston native
Kubiak, and stammered some when asked about his infamous sideline
blowout with Tom Brady in New England.
He escaped the first
question by saying he was going to buy his first pair of cowboy boots
after the press conference. As for the second issue — he downplayed the
screaming match that ended with other coaches pulling O'Brien away.
things happen," he said. "There was a camera on it which I feel bad
about, but what people don't understand about that was 30 seconds after
that was over, we were sitting together looking at the pictures ...
that quickly passed."
O'Brien follows Dom Capers, who led the
team from its expansion season in 2002, and Kubiak as the only coaches
in Texans history.
Like Kubiak, O'Brien is known as a
quarterback guru, which will be important for a team searching for a
solution after veteran Matt Schaub had a terrible season and lost his
job to Case Keenum, who also struggled.
O'Brien has almost
exclusively coached offense with a focus on quarterbacks, though he was
a defensive end and linebacker while at Brown.
"It's a job
that's never-ending," he said of coaching quarterbacks. "It's a job
that you can always improve if you like coaching quarterbacks and it's
a lot of fun to do."
Houston has the top overall draft pick and
could use it on a one of a trio of talented signal-callers who could be
available. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner
Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Fresno State's Derek Carr,
brother of Houston's first-ever draft pick, David Carr, are the
top-rated quarterbacks expected to be in the draft.
"If we wound
up with a young quarterback, we'd probably bring in a veteran so we
don't have to depend on that rookie," McNair said. "That's tough
putting a rookie in there and expecting them to be able play right off
the bat. There've been a couple of them that have done it but a number
of them didn't do so well. I think having that veteran presence is
Houston has had the first pick in the draft two other times, choosing
Carr in 2002 and defensive end Mario Williams in 2006.
defensive player worked out better than the offensive player," McNair
said with a laugh. "But that won't lock us into anything. There's
always a possibility. (General manager) Rick (Smith) and the coaches
will trade around. Maybe we'll trade down and still get a quarterback
that can do the job and get an outstanding defensive player."
Scout.com recruiting expert Brian Dohn discusses the impact of Bill O'Brien's departure on Penn…