November 24th, 2020 at 10:10am CST by Zachary Links
Texans team president Jamey Rootes said that Jack Easterby won’t be the team’s next general manager. CEO Cal McNair also said that Easterby won’t be given the GM job. Now, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com hears that Easterby isn’t actually interested in the position, which should put the speculation to rest. Meanwhile, JLC also hears that interim head coach Romeo Crennel won’t be considered for the HC role in 2021.
Easterby’s rise through the Texans’ organization has been well documented and he’s held more sway with Houston than he ever did with New England. Apparently, he’s plenty happy in his current position as the EVP of Football Operations, a role that pays more than $3MM per year, according to La Canfora.
Crennel, 73, has been viewed as a placeholder for 2020, though we heard previously that he would be given a shot at the “permanent” post. That doesn’t seem to be the case, and it’s not immediately clear whether he’d be given a chance to stay on board in a different capacity. Before Bill O’Brien‘s ouster, Crennel served as the Texans’ assistant head coach to start the 2020 season. And, in 2018 and 2019, he carried the defensive coordinator title. To date, Crennel is 30-58 as an NFL head coach.
The Texans fired head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien last month following an 0-4 start, and interim HC Romeo Crennel has righted the ship a bit. Under Crennel’s watch, Houston is 2-2, and while those two wins came against the lowly Jaguars, the Texans came within an eyelash of toppling the Titans in Week 6.
Crennel, 73, has been viewed as a placeholder for 2020, but he could retain the gig through the 2021 season, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes. COVID-19 restrictions will probably not permit a traditional in-person search this offseason, so teams hiring a new HC could be committing a boatload of money to a person they have never even met. As such, the Texans might stick with Crennel next season and seek their long-term answer the following year. If that happens, VP of football operations Jack Easterby may continue serving as GM.
Of course, the team has been connected to Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, who is a favorite of QB Deshaun Watson. Bieniemy is widely expected to secure a head coaching job this offseason regardless of travel restrictions, so if Houston wants him, it might need to take a leap of faith. And John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says the Texans will indeed hire a new GM and HC at season’s end, while fellow Houston Chronicle scribe Aaron Wilson says the search remains active (Twitterlinks).
Now for more a few more coaching rumors:
The Falcons parted ways with HC Dan Quinn earlier this season, but it doesn’t sound like Quinn will be out of work for long. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, several teams have made it known that they would like to have Quinn on their staff in 2021, and coordinators who might become head coaches next season have tapped Quinn as their first choice for defensive coordinator. La Canfora says Quinn could rejoin the Seahawksgiven Seattle’s defensive struggles this year, and he could also end up as the 49ers‘ DC if Robert Saleh gets a head coaching job.
Given the financial toll that the pandemic has taken on college athletic departments, top college coaches have become increasingly receptive to a jump to the NFL, as La Canfora details in a separate piece. Names like Lincoln Riley, Jim Harbaugh, and Brian Kelly, who frequently come up in offseason coaching rumors, will again be at the forefront of the discussion in 2021.
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has drawn interest from NFL teams in the past, and as of January 2019, he indicated he was not interested in NFL opportunities. However, COVID-19 might make him more receptive to an HC job in the pros, and his hometown Bears could come calling. La Canfora says Bears ownership is high on Fitzgerald, and if Chicago moves on from Matt Nagy, Fitzgerald might be on the top of the team’s wish-list.
October 26th, 2020 at 11:24am CST by Zachary Links
With just days to go before the NFL trade deadline, Romeo Crennel says he’s telling players that he’s not looking to make more deals (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). Of course, the decision doesn’t like solely with the Texans’ interim head coach.
“Oh sure,” Crennel said when asked if the issue is a potential distraction. “With this situation, it might be more on their mind this year. I’ve talked to them and tried to reassure them that I’m not looking to trade guys.”
The cellar-dwelling Texans revamped their sideline and front office in one fell swoop this year by firing head coach/GM Bill O’Brien. The trade rumors have been swirling for weeks and it only stands to reason that the Texans are looking for a clean slate. Wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller, for example, could be logical targets for teams in need of offensive firepower. Other notables like edge defender Whitney Mercilus, tight end Darren Fells, and running back Duke Johnson could also be worthwhile trade chips.
The Texans fell to the Packers on Sunday, dropping them to 1-6. With the playoffs effectively out of reach, many expect the Texans to work the phone lines between now and Tuesday, Nov. 3.
October 5th, 2020 at 3:57pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Well we certainly didn’t see this one coming. The Texans have fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).
The Texans of course are 0-4, but it’s still a pretty shocking development since there hadn’t been any recent reports that O’Brien’s job was in imminent danger. Schefter noted in a follow-up tweet that a source told him Romeo Crennel is the likely interim head coach. O’Brien clearly wasn’t expecting to get canned, as we heard just yesterday that he was taking over offensive play-calling duties and taking a more active role in the game-planning.
The Texans are a trainwreck at the moment, as not only are they winless but they’re also without their first and second-round picks in next year’s draft due to trades O’Brien made. O’Brien had recently clashed with prominent players at practice and executive Jack Easterby is now in charge of the organization for the time being, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets.
O’Brien now becomes the first head coach fired during the 2020 season, beating out contenders like Adam Gase and Dan Quinn for the honor. GM Brian Gaine was fired back in June of 2019, and O’Brien has been in complete control of the team ever since. He was formally named the general manager back in January.
The former Penn State coach and Patriots offensive coordinator made a slew of controversial moves, most notably trading away superstar DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals this offseason for relatively little in return. The Texans have a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, but things are pretty bleak outside of him due to the lack of draft capital.
It’s been a rapid collapse for Houston after they advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year and had a huge lead over the Chiefs in the first half. O’Brien became the head coach in 2014 and while he’s earned a lot of the criticism he’s gotten, he did lead the team to the playoffs in four of his six full seasons.
The Texans started with an absolutely brutal schedule of the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers in their first three games, and are running out of time to turn things around. Crennel has been with the team in varying capacities since 2014 as well. He’ll take over a team with some real talent, and he has head coaching experience. He coached the Browns from 2005-08, and was more recently the Chiefs’ head coach from 2011-12.
As for their next full time head coach, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is sure to get consideration. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tweets to keep an eye on current defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, writing that the “team loves him and he’s seen as a serious contender for a HC job this offseason.” Meanwhile Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that Easterby is on a “very long-term contract,” and notes that he is close with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as well as Pats exec Nick Caserio, who the Texans originally wanted to be their GM last year.Easterby is going to be heavily involved in the ensuing search process alongside owner Cal McNair, according to multiple reports.
McDaniels’ name is brought up annually in head coaching searches, and it sounds like that will be the case once again here. A handful of reporters immediately began speculating on Twitter that there could be interest in Dabo Swinney, Watson’s former coach at Clemson. That was all just spitballing and nothing sourced, but it’s fun to think about nonetheless. Watson isn’t the only connection there, as Albert Breer of SI.com tweets he’s been told Easterby is also “very friendly” with Swinney.
As for O’Brien, it’s anyone’s guess what his next move will be. Today ends a tumultuous era of Texans football, and it’ll be very interesting to see if Watson can lead the team out of the hole they currently find themselves in.
Previously, Crennel was said to be mulling retirement. But, after 38 years in coaching, the 72-year-old can’t seem to quit football. Crennel’s resume is too long to list here, but his notable stops include runs as the head coach of the Browns and Chiefs, plus DC turns with the Browns, Pats, Chiefs, and Texans.
Crennel came under fire from fans after a so-so showing in the regular season and a No. 19 ranking in defensive DVOA. Then, the Texans’ fate was sealed in the divisional round as they allowed the Chiefs to battle back from a 24-point gap in the second quarter. It was a rough exit, but in Crennel’s defense, the Texans were just the latest victim of Patrick Mahomes & Co.
The Texans are making a change at defensive coordinator. Anthony Weaver has been promoted from defensive line coach to take over for Romeo Crennel, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
Crennel was said to be considering retirement. It’s not immediately clear whether the 72-year-old will walk away from the game or return to the team in some sort of advisory capacity. The former Browns and Chiefs head coach served as defensive coordinator from 2014-16 and returned to that role in 2018, after Mike Vrabel became the Titans’ HC. All in all, he’s spent 38 years as an NFL coach.
The Texans ranked 19th in defensive DVOA in 2019 and just fired outside linebackers coach John Pagano. Crennel’s defense is coming off a brutal divisional-round showing, when the Chiefs erased a 24-point deficit by halftime in a 51-31 rout.
Weaver, 39, played with the Texans for three seasons in the 2000s and has coached in Houston for the past four years.
Crennel, 72, has played key roles on all six Bill O’Brien Houston staffs. The former Browns and Chiefs head coach has served as defensive coordinator from 2014-16 and returned to that role in 2018, after Mike Vrabel became the Titans’ HC.
Should Crennel step down after 38 years as an NFL coach, Texans defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is viewed as a top in-house replacement candidate, Wilson adds. Weaver, 39, played with the Texans for three seasons in the 2000s and has coached in Houston for the past four years.
Although Crennel served as HC in Cleveland from 2005-08 and spent the 2012 season as the full-time HC in Kansas City, he may still be best known for his work as defensive coordinator for the Patriots’ first three Super Bowl championship teams. He has coached in the NFL since 1981, beginning as the Giants’ special teams coach and staying in New York until 1992. Working under Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, Crennel has won five Super Bowls as an assistant.
The Texans ranked 19th in defensive DVOA this season and just fired outside linebackers coach John Pagano. Crennel’s defense is coming off a brutal divisional-round showing, when the Chiefs erased a 24-point deficit by halftime in a 51-31 rout. After finally deploying J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney for a full season together in 2018, the Texans traded Clowney and again saw Watt miss extensive time due to injury. Houston ranked seventh in DVOA last season, rebounding from a down year under Vrabel.
January 12th, 2020 at 9:22pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Texans got embarrassed Sunday as they blew a 24-point lead in the playoffs to the Chiefs, but don’t expect any major coaching changes. It doesn’t look like Bill O’Brien is going anywhere, and his top assistant coach seems to be safe for now as well. O’Brien said after the game that he anticipates defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel being back next year, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Seemingly every year there is speculation that the 72-year-old legendary coach will retire or get pushed out, but he’s been able to stick.
Here’s the latest from the coaching world:
With Kevin Stefanski leaving to become the next head coach of the Browns, the Vikings will need to find a new offensive coordinator. Both Gary and Klint Kubiak are on staff, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune both floated them as potential favorites for the gig (Twitterlinks). Goessling noted in a separate tweet that both Kubiaks have a strong relationship with Stefanski, and that “they’d talked about working together last year if Stefanski got the job in Cleveland.” Stefanski was a finalist for the gig that ended up going to Freddie Kitchens. The elder Kubiak is a seasoned vet with a lot of head-coaching and coordinating experience, while his son Klint served as Minnesota’s quarterbacks coach this past year. It sounds like the Vikings could opt for continuity for Kirk Cousins.
The Cowboys have a new secondary coach after letting go of Kris Richard. Dallas is hiring Maurice Linguist away from Texas A&M to fill that role, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Linguist had been the cornerbacks coach at A&M. He had previously coached under P.J. Fleck at the University of Minnesota. Mike McCarthy continues to flesh out his inaugural Cowboys staff.
The Dolphins will have two new coordinators in 2020, and they’ll also have a new quarterbacks coach. Miami is hiring Robby Brown to fill that role, a source told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Brown first served as an assistant coach in the college ranks for a handful of years, and then was an offensive quality control coach with the Jets for a few seasons. While in New York he worked under new Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, so this hiring makes some sense.
Mike Munchak is once again a popular head coaching candidate, with at least four teams interested in his services. But we heard last night that Munchak has strong interest in the Broncos‘ opening, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Munchak has emerged as the early favorite for that position. Helping the Broncos’ cause is the fact that Munchak has family, including a granddaughter, in the Denver area.
Now for more rumors and rumblings from the AFC:
The Broncos are blocking other teams from interviewing senior personnel adviser Gary Kubiak for offensive coordinator jobs, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Kubiak wants to remain in Denver anyway, but he has expressed interest in returning to the sidelines as an OC, and the Broncos would like him to serve in that role under whomever they hire as their next head coach (assuming that person is comfortable with such an arrangement). The Bengals and Falcons had requested interviews.
Romeo Crennel is expected to return as the Texans‘ DC in 2019, per head coach Bill O’Brien (via Wilson on Twitter).
The Jetshave interest in interviewing Baylor head coach Matt Rhule for their own HC vacancy, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggests that Gang Green will get an interview with Rhule (Twitter link). The team is in Dallas interviewing Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard today, and Albert Breer of SI.com believes New York brass could interview Rhule while they’re in Texas (Dallas is about 90 minutes from Waco).
Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers should be able to land a lucrative free agent deal this offseason, but since he is not a prototypical speed-rushing DE, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes it is difficult to pin down what his value will be on the open market. Reiss suggests Flowers could return to New England after testing the free agent waters.
Rapoport reiterates that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will not be back in Baltimore next season, but Flacco (unsurprisingly) wants to continue his playing career, and Rapoport suggests that he will get an opportunity as a starter (video link). The only real question is whether Baltimore will be able to trade him or if the club will be forced to cut him.
In addition to Flacco, the Ravens will need to decide what to do with impending free agent C.J. Mosley in the offseason. It would probably be unwise to sink too much money into an inside linebacker who struggles in coverage, but Mosley’s leadership abilities for a defense that could be losing a number of key veterans will certainly be a factor in contract negotiations, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
Jadeveon Clowney did not practice during the first set of Texans OTAs last week because of a surgery he underwent in the offseason, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Clowney had arthroscopic knee surgery after the season but remains sidelined as Houston’s offseason program commences, per Wilson, who adds the fifth-year edge defender recently sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. While the additional medical counsel and the lengthy time off could be deemed a cause for concern, Wilson reports the outlook for Clowney is positive here. An extension for the former No. 1 overall pick has been on the Texans’ agenda for a bit now, and the team is eyeing what promises to be a landmark contract being finalized before the regular season. It doesn’t look as though this knee issue will cloud that. Although, no deal is imminent just yet.
Here’s the latest out of Houston, as its NBA franchise prepares for a rather significant game.
As expected, Deshaun Watson participated in part of the Texans’ OTAs. The second-year quarterback took part in individual drills, per Bill O’Brien (via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle). However, Watson also participated in some of the seven-on-seven portion of the workout. Pointing out Watson has not experienced any setbacks this offseason, McClain notes the Texans’ starter is expected to be 100 percent by the time training camp begins. “My knee feels well,” Watson said. “I’m comfortable to be able to throw and get the timing down with the receivers. There’s really no timeline on ACLs. It’s just dependent on how that person feels. I feel good.”
Tyrann Mathieu isn’t lobbying for the Texans to use him the way the Cardinals did. The Texans are, for now, planning on keeping their newly signed defensive back at the safety position exclusively. And Romeo Crennel‘s plan for Mathieu helped attract the free agent safety to Houston, he said. This comes after Mathieu spent plenty of time in the slot with the Cards. “Yeah, it definitely helps me slow things down,” Mathieu said of the safety-only role, via HoustonTexans.com. “Just focusing on one position, trying to be the best at that, rather than just being good at everything. So, I think it’s important for me to just embrace it like I have been and just trying to continue to grow as a safety.”