Hall of Fame
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Stafford, Texas
Well, if you don't like coach-speak . . .
. . . you won't like Bill O'Brien for very long. Capers and Kubiak were off-the-cuff rambling chatterboxes compared to how OB will be running things.
It is one month before the combine, two months before the start of free agency, three months before the 2014 schedule is released, four months before the NFL draft and six months before training camp begins, yet already new Texans coach Bill O'Brien is trying to win.
O'Brien repeatedly will remind us of a singular focus on winning the next game; that is his way. But for now, he is trying to win over the minds of the Texans. Minds that were tough enough to prevent players from turning on each other but not strong enough to figure out how to put a stop to a 31/2-month slide.
It isn't often that an NFL team enters a season talking seriously about the Super Bowl and leaves it sulking over a 14-game losing streak. In the past eight seasons, there were plenty of highs, but too often Gary Kubiak's Texans showed a startling lack of mental toughness. It is something opponents noticed, and something owner Bob McNair often questioned. To what extent that was on the head coach is up for debate, but Kubiak was fired in early December because of it.
In comes O'Brien with a new attitude and a different approach. Of course, there is more than one way to skin a Jaguar. O'Brien's way is going to be quite unlike Kubiak's. O'Brien has been on the job less than two weeks, but already you can see changes at Reliant Stadium. As NFL Network's Albert Breer was first to note, O'Brien has removed references to individual accomplishments from the building. The Texans used to have posters of players who had won individual weekly awards throughout their team meeting room. Gone. They had posters of a few players with their individual accomplishments in the locker room. Gone.
The message: Football is a team game, and team accomplishments are what will be celebrated. The "there is no I in team" message isn't a unique one - the Texans have heard that before - but O'Brien wants to ensure there is no mistaking that individual accomplishments will never supersede team goals. As best he can, and with all that he can control, everything will be about the group.
"As far as individual players, you are never going to get me to talk specific guys too much; it is always going to be the team," O'Brien said after he took over as the head coach at Penn State two years ago. That approach is similar to that of Bill Belichick, whom O'Brien worked under from 2007-11.
O'Brien has said he will be his own man, but undoubtedly he recognized some of the good things Belichick has done at New England and will implement those in Houston.
A closed-ranks methodology will mean less information will flow from Reliant Park, which has been one of the more media-friendly locales in the NFL.
A singular message, with the head coach setting the tone, also will be something new for the Texans. Whether he is discussing quarterbacks or linebackers or special-teamers who will never start, O'Brien will use the word "smart" more than any coach in the NFL, besides perhaps Belichick. It is a prerequisite for being an O'Brien-type player. That doesn't mean every player will be smart, but O'Brien will try to convince us they are.
Expect to hear players talk less and sound more like their head coach. In his media meetings thus far, O'Brien already has proved to be fluent in coachspeak, saying a lot but divulging little. Not that Kubiak was one to share secrets, but he often gave more information than needed and almost always tried to answer any question that was asked. He is a friendly sort.
O'Brien has a message to deliver and will deliver it regardless of the inquiry. He won't tell you much about his offense or defense. You'll see come game time.