(Editor’s note: Mixed into a rambling narrative about the current state of affairs in the NFL loaded with historical and pop culture references, Mr. Brutal makes some football picks. Why does he call it the “War of 1812 Football Prognostication”? He likes history, he’s Canadian, and it probably has something to do with those two facts. That’s all we’ve got. We used to spend a long time editing these things. This year, you’re getting them raw… so enjoy the Canadian “flavour.”)
MR. BRUTAL 7-7-1
Thursday, October 8, 2015
8:25 pm Indianapolis @ Houston (Even) 45
Time was, Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien was seen as the next Big Thing, The Hot Prospect, The Messiah of State College, The Saviour of Penn State and/or the next great triumphant College Coach heading back to the NFL for glorious, groundbreaking & trendsetting success.
O’Brien attended & played football at Brown, he then position coached at Brown, Georgia Tech & Duke. He jumped to the NFL as an offensive assistant with the Patriots. After several promotions, he became Offensive Coordinator and led the Pats to the last Super Bowl they lost against the Giants. He then moved on to coach Penn State.
He had his very capable wife negotiate an excellent contract that paid him generously and allowed him easy exit terms to go back to the NFL. Despite the crippling sanctions, massive distractions & player defection fallout from the Jerry Sandusky Scandal, he took the Nittany Lions to 8-4 his first year and 7-5 his second.
Jumping back to the NFL, he took the Houston Texans to 9-7 his first year as Head Coach, barely missing the playoffs. This year the Texans are 1-3, their lone win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So why is O’Brien already being perceived as possibly the next “Dead Coach” walking?
Part of it has to do with his mental state and his perceived overall lack of intelligence and/or common sense.
After the humiliating 48-21 loss to Atlanta last Sunday, O’Brien appeared at the post game press conference as a seething, sputtering Fred Flintstone figure dressed in football coaches’ garb. He looked frazzled, defensive, angry, confrontational and spoke less articulately than the actual cartoon character himself.
His gaze was often fixated on reporters for uncomfortable pauses, like a moose in the headlights contemplating whether to charge the oncoming threat or bolt for the woods.
When asked about who would start at quarterback for this pivotal AFC South Thursday game, he barked that Ryan Mallett was the starting quarterback, end of story.
Well not really, …… Mallett was beyond useless on Sunday, going 12/27 for 150 benign yards, 1 interception & a QB rating of 5.4.
Then Brian Hoyer came into the game for the fourth quarter and promptly threw for 232 yards, driving the team to all three of their touchdowns, including 2 TD passes. Of course O’Brien had quickly benched Hoyer earlier in the year in the opener, and by that implication, cited him as the major problem with the Texans’ attack.
Hoyer was signed as a free agent but he is nobody’s idea of Johnny Unitas. He won the job in training camp and although lacking some of Mallet’s physical attributes, his gamesmanship & leadership ability were clearly superior. Many thought O’Brien panicked when he made the switch to Mallet and now he is just determined to look in control by not switching back.
All of this is complicated by the fact that O’Brien worked with both Hoyer and Mallet in New England & pitched for both of them to be signed by the Texans. There was a lot of criticism by the fans and media that the Dead Cow Heads were limiting their options, but O’Brien was given the benefit of the doubt after a 9-7 season.
Then there is the issue of his choice of Offensive Coordinator in the form of old friend George Godsey. Godsey played quarterback for O’Brien at Georgia Tech and he was hired as quarterbacks’ coach last year. He has little experience, but that didn’t stop O’Brien from promoting him to Offensive Coordinator.
In the pre-season, the local Houston media questioned Godsey’s credentials and the fact that the Texans had less offensive coaches than other teams. O’Brien explained that they had plenty of brainpower on that side of the ball, including himself. He explained that he would have input into all decisions and that his vast experience would prove invaluable helping the Texans’ attack.
How’s that going?
If you’ve watched HBO’s Hardknocks this year, the deteriorating mental state of O’Brien shouldn’t surprise anyone. In training camp his hyper behaviour & escalating use of unimaginative foul language were a staple of the show. Thus the predictable, infantile “Swear Jar” was introduced into the mix, and of course O’Brien led the pack in contributions.
But as time went on, his comments became more obtuse, his moods overly reactionary & his unpredictable behaviour belied the supposed intelligence of an Ivy League graduate.
We could find no evidence as to whether Bill O’Brien actually graduated from Brown, but you would think a guy who attended or coached at such top academic institutions like Brown, Duke, Georgia Tech and the Bill Belichick Undergraduate School of Coaching would at least occasionally offer some solid leadership examples for the players and some maturity for the cameras.
It appears that the ability to utilize a compound sentence, offer a reflective, salient statement of observation or maintain composure in the face of chaotic events would all be a bridge too far for Mount O’Brien.
Of course the intellectual capabilities of Bill O’Brien shouldn’t be a big surprise. As we learn from the show, O’Brien purports to be a major fan of talent-less Miami based Gangsta Rapper Rick Ross. In fact he appears obsessed with him.
Maybe Bill pretends he loves rap music just to relate to his young players. Whether truthful or strategic, the sad practice of hero worshiping another sample scrounging, riff stealing non musician is a pathetic character attribute in a grown man.
Anyone like Rick Ross who harvests others’ talents for the sole purpose of spewing more overproduced, repetitious commercialized diatribes of paint-by-number angst makes us sick on principle alone.
Worse yet, Mr. O’Brien may actually love the product Rick Ross delivers. Bill appreciates the childish fake bravado & the misogynist lyrics all set to caveman rhythms with the imagination of an industrial punch press.
He craves the simplistic thrill of associating himself with a man who has built a large part of his career publicizing his constant interaction with Miami gangsters to a degree that would make Ray Lewis proud.
O’Brien probably doesn’t realize that it is the rappers who usually benefit from tying themselves to sports teams & not jock sniffing coaches sucking up to hip hop celebrities who crave for their players and the world at large to see how cool they roll.
The Texans’ offense is in a truly sorry state. It takes a weak, insecure leader to surround himself with inferior sycophants who are not the best people available for the job & more importantly pose no threat to usurp his higher station. O’Brien may be unraveling because he is at least smart enough to realize this all eventually will come down on his head.
However, barring escalating embarrassments the calibre of the Atlanta drubbing, ……. Houston owner Bob McNair is probably going to give him another year to run the team as long as he sacrifices the appropriate lambs at the end of this one.
The Texans can best beat the Colts if they start Hoyer [ O’Brien says no ] or go to him early out of the bullpen. The Colts can win if Andrew Luck starts.
( reports vary as to the extent of Luck’s shoulder injury, but he says he will play Thursday, wishful thinking? strategy? outright lying? )
We will assume at press time that the Colts braintrust will have some common sense and rest “The Franchise” Andrew Luck.
The Colts were more than lucky to beat Jacksonville last week when the Jags missed two winning field goals before falling in Overtime. The Indy defense is really bad, Frank Gore is showing the piston & ring wear of Jim Harbaugh’s overuse and their offensive line is prone to attack from fast Defensive Ends [ J.J. Watt, potential field day Thursday night ]
The prospect of a bruised & beaten 40 year old QB Matt Hasselbeck beating Houston in NRG Stadium on three days’ rest is slightly daunting, and it’s reflected in the line at William Hill sports betting.
The Texans have actually beaten the Colts 3 times out of their last 5 visits to Houston and outscored them almost 2-1. Assuming all the intangibles, probabilities, injuries, …… we are going to back desperate Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans and pray by any means necessary that Ryan Mallett leaves this game early. …… well we have to make a pick, …..Yechhh!
If Houston loses badly, Bill O’Brien should get an early start on 2016 and have his wife start making calls & prepping the skids for a return to coaching in the NCAA. Better yet, in the short term he should seriously consider her advice on the Texans’ offensive woes.
… and also in the short term, he should start listening to some Mozart, Beethoven or Schubert. He just might end up a little less tense.
Pick: TEXANS (Even)
Bob: Indy Even