SATURDAY, 7:44pm: Texans owner Bob McNair said O’Brien will be back next season, via Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com (on Twitter). “I’m not going to fire him,” McNair said (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, on Twitter) after the Texans’ 27-14 wild-card win over the Raiders.
The 49ers, however, were intrigued by the possibility O’Brien could have been a late-arriving coaching free agent, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports tweets.
SATURDAY, 8:15am: Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that several teams with head coaching vacancies are waiting to see how everything will play out in Houston before they make a hire. If O’Brien is fired, Rapoport notes that he “may soar to the top of the list” for many teams.
THURSDAY, 4:52pm: Although the Texans just reeled off their third straight nine-victory regular season and second consecutive AFC South-winning campaign under head coach Bill O’Brien, his job is in jeopardy, reports CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. O’Brien is currently preparing for a wild-card round showdown with the Raiders, which could be his last game with Houston if the team loses. Even a win over the banged-up Raiders wouldn’t necessarily save O’Brien, suggests La Canfora.
O’Brien’s problems with the Texans are related to a less-than-ideal relationship with general manager Rick Smith and an unenthusiastic view of quarterback Brock Osweiler, per La Canfora. The Texans guaranteed Osweiler, an ex-Denver backup, $37MM last offseason, but the 6-foot-8 signal-caller has been a colossal disappointment thus far.
Osweiler was among the league’s worst starters throughout the regular season, leading O’Brien to bench him in favor of Tom Savage toward the end of the year. Savage suffered a concussion in Week 17 and won’t be available against the Raiders, meaning O’Brien’s fate is back in the beleaguered Osweiler’s hands. The Texans will likely be stuck with Osweiler in 2017, too, as the team would incur $25MM in dead money by releasing him this offseason.
In the event the Texans do move on from O’Brien within the next couple weeks, it could significantly impact coaching searches around the league. The 47-year-old O’Brien is a proven commodity, having succeeded in leading roles with both Penn State and the Texans, and the offensive mind would surely draw interest from teams with head coaching vacancies if he were to hit the market. Of course, with the Texans joining the hunt for other candidates, it would also lead to an increase in clubs searching for head coaches. Both Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, an ex-Texans assistant, and former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy would be names to watch, according to La Canfora.
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