Five most overrated NFL head coaches entering 2017

By Ethan Sears

Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans

Bill O'Brien

The Houston Texans hired Bill O’Brien because he developed a reputation as a quarterback whisperer as New England Patriots offensive coordinator and Penn State head coach. Through three seasons, nearly everything Bill O’Brien has done at the quarterback position has been completely and utterly incompetent. Let’s give O’Brien a pass for 2014, his first year on the job when he brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was generally competent before getting hurt.

Instead, lets focus on the last two seasons.

To start off 2015, you may remember, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett were competing for Houston’s starting job. To add to the pressure, the Texans were featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. The decision was portrayed dramatically on the show, with O’Brien naming Hoyer the starter and stressing that he would not be on a short leash.

It turned out that a long leash ended up being most of one game. Hoyer was benched in the fourth quarter of Week 1. Mallett proceeded to start the next four games, over which he was generally bad and the Texans went 1-3, including a Week 5 game in which he was benched for Hoyer. Mallett was released less than 10 days later after missing team flight to Miami (more on that here).

To summarize: O’Brien lied to Hoyer about trusting him as a starter, went to Mallett way earlier than anyone expected, Mallett stunk, got benched and proceeded to oversleep for a flight, resulting in his release.

But wait, there’s more!

After that disaster, O’Brien knew the Texans had to fix their quarterback situation in the offseason. So what did the Texans do? They signed Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract without O’Brien having met him or, judging by the size of the contract, having watched his tape.

Osweiler was benched late in the season and general manager Rick Smith had to bribe the Cleveland Browns with a second round pick to take Osweiler’s mammoth contract. After that, the Texans had to give up more draft assets to trade up this year in order to select Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson No. 12 overall. If O’Brien’s record is any indication, Watson should run for the hills.

O’Brien’s quarterback record is not the only reason to disbar him as an NFL head coach for eternity. Far from it. He routinely makes errors in the most basic aspects of game management.

In the 2015 playoffs, O’Brien made a big show of using defensive end J.J. Watt in the red zone — so much so that ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters, assigned to the game, was aware of the plan at kickoff. In the second quarter, with the Kansas City Chiefs up 13-0 and Brian Hoyer in the red zone for the first time all game, O’Brien brought in not just Watt, but defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. The Texans ran a draw for Watt, who lined up under center, and lost a yard.

Hoyer threw an interception on the very next play and the Texans wouldn’t get that close to scoring again in what became a 30-0 loss. It was later revealed that Watt was playing with five fully or partially torn muscles. There are countless more examples of O’Brien’s rank stupidity on the sidelines, but we only have so much space.

The Texans have managed to win despite him, thanks to a strong defense (which he has nothing to do with) and a weak schedule. As long as O’Brien is around, however, there will be an eternal obstacle in their path to contention.