Houston Texans hire Bill O'Brien as new head coach

Houston Texans Punt

The NFL's worst team in 2013 has it's new head coach.

The Houston Texans moved quickly to hire former Penn State boss Bill O'Brien to rebuild a franchise that slumped to 2-14 this season.

John McClain of The Houston Chronicle confirms that O'Brien will succeed Gary Kubiak as the third head coach in the brief history of the Texans.

Kubiak was fired with three games left in the season. The job he left behind was considered the most attractive vacancy this offseason.

The Texans have a talented core already in place, having won 12 games a season ago. They also now possess the top pick in the 2014 NFL draft, widely tipped to be Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Clearly, these factors served to entice O'Brien, whose reputation has been enhanced by some stellar work at the collegiate level. He helped revive the Penn State program at a time when the college was shamed by the deeply unsavoury scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky.

The way O'Brien calmly handled the oppressive media attention on the Nittany Lions will no doubt have endeared him to Houston owner Bob McNair.

The Texans are noted as one of the more efficiently run franchises in the NFL. They value continuity and quiet, stable management of team affairs.

Before his time at Penn State, O'Brien impressed many in league circles with his work as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots in 2011.

The Patriots made the Super Bowl that season with O'Brien's third-ranked scoring offense leading the way. He crafted a versatile scheme built around the two-tight end package.

His creative use of bruising "joker" tight end Rob Gronkowski gave defenses fits. Gronkowski scored 17 touchdowns in 2011, an NFL single-season record at his position.

Before becoming the team's offensive coordinator, O'Brien initially joined the Patriots as wide receivers coach in 2007. He played a role in reviving the career of Randy Moss, the most lethal deep threat of all time.

O'Brien's tutelage also helped turn Wes Welker into one of the most prolific pass-catchers in league history. Welker tallied more than 100 receptions in four out of the five seasons he spent with O'Brien.

The Texans will be relying on O'Brien using his expertise to revive an offense that scored the second-fewest points in the NFL in 2013. Major problems at quarterback led to the benching of Matt Schaub and left the team relying on the raw and inexperienced Case Keenum.

Whomever was under center was also not helped by injuries to productive running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate. But despite the problems, O'Brien will know he has weapons to work with in Houston.

Veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson is still feared by most defenses, while Foster is a dangerous and imaginative runner. A competent O-line is already in place.

The Texans also boast a solid defense that will ably complement O'Brien's developing offense. Defensive end J.J. Watt, linebacker Brian Cushing and cornerback Jonathan Joseph form a talented nucleus on that side of the ball.

Given the quality they possess, the Texans are well-placed to make a quick turnaround in 2014. They will have been inspired by the example set by the Kansas City Chiefs this season.

The Chiefs went 2-14 in 2012, but they rebounded in just one year. Under the stewardship of Andy Reid, Kansas City finished 11-5 and made the playoffs this season.

If O'Brien selects and develops the right quarterback, he could engineer a similar rapid recovery in Houston.

image: © eschipul