When the Houston Texans returned to practice on Wednesday, they did so without the presence of Bill O’Brien on the sideline. O’Brien — who just coached his 100th game on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings — was dismissed as head coach and general manager late-Monday afternoon following an 0-4 start to the season.
The main topic of discussion surrounding the Texans is the future of the franchise.
Who is going to be the next head coach? Who is going to take over the job as the next general manager? What does this mean for J.J. Watt, and will the Texans consider trading their franchise star?
Each question holds significant value, but Houston still has 12 games remaining in the season before they can thoroughly focus on rebuilding a fractured franchise.
Leading the charge in an attempt to salvage the season is former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel — who took over as interim head coach following O’Brien’s release.
“Coach O’Brien, he was the reason that I’m here to start with, so I appreciate that,” Crennel said in his first interview as head coach via Zoom on Wednesday. “Over the years here, we’ve done some good things. But we know that it’s a production business and you have to produce. We were not off to a good start this year and the expectations were much greater than what we’ve shown on the field, so as a result of that, ownership decided to make the change.”
It is not impossible for Crennel to get the Texans back to playoff contention. In 1992, the San Diego Chargers qualified for the post-season after an 0-4 start. They finished the year with an 11-5 record, and advanced to the AFC Divisional Round where they were eliminated by the Miami Dolphins.
Several teams over the last 28 years have come close to achieving what the ’92 Chargers accomplished after an 0-4 start — including the Texans (8-8) in 2008.
However, Crennel is not thinking about the playoffs at the moment. His only objective is to help this team win their first game of the season on Sunday, when the Texans square-off against the 1-3 Jacksonville Jaguars.
The improvements Houston needs to make goes beyond the X’s and O’s on the football field. Crennel said for the Texans to turn their season around, they must focus on three traits: attitude, energy and consistency.
Even with new core values set in place, there is a commitment from Crennel to solve the Texans’ issues at stopping the run.
Through the first four games, Houston’s defense has allowed a league-worst 181.1 rushing yards on the ground. Over the last three games, the Texans have given up an average of 87.3 rushing yards in the fourth quarter alone.
“RAC’s a great man,” J.J. Watt said. “He’s seen a lot. He’s been round a lot. He’s been around great players, great teams. He has rings and he has a positive air about him. He has just kind of a jolly nature to him. So, you can’t really help but smile when you’re having a conversation with RAC. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do and what he can bring to our team. It should be fun.”
Interim head coach, it is just a title for Crennel. The plan is to approach the job similar to his previous head coaching positions in the past.
Crennel first served as the Cleveland Browns‘ head coach from 2005-2008, and later coached the Kansas City Chiefs from 2011-2012. He currently holds a head coaching record of 28-55. Crennel’s best season at the helm took place during the 2007 season, where he led the Brown to a 10-6 record.
At 73-years-old, Crennel will set the record as the oldest coach in NFL history — surpassing George Halas, who was 72.
“I just found out I guess maybe yesterday, somebody mentioned that I would be the oldest coach to have coached a game in the NFL on Sunday. I didn’t think about it that way. I think that I’m just a football coach, and I enjoy coaching, and that’s why I’m still coaching. So, I’m just going to try to make this team better and try to win a football game.” — Crennel
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