Texans Rumors: Bill O’Brien, Jack Easterby, HC Candidates

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Texans exec Jack Easterby, who was key in the firing of GM Brian Gaine, apparently did not see eye-to-eye with HC Bill O’Brien recently before the coach/GM was fired on Monday. 

O’Brien had been clashing with prominent players at practice recently, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, and taking back the play-calling on offense was his last attempt to salvage the situation as Houston fell to 0-4. 

ESPN’s Dianna Russini says two weeks ago is when O’Brien really started to lose the team, as there was a major verbal blow up in practice. Russini adds that one player tells her: “There’s actually a feeling of relief in Houston. Not that O’Brien is not a great guy, he was losing our trust and confidence…maybe even lost all of it.” 

La Canfora reported O’Brien’s standing in the locker room also took a hit when he pushed to sign S Earl Thomas and was not helped by the trade of WR DeAndre Hopkins

O’Brien told NFL Media’s Michael Silver on Sunday night he expected to be fired, although it wasn’t clear if he meant this soon. 

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle says Easterby will be a key voice for team owner Cal McNair as he executes the search for a new head coach. Wilson mentions that Texans’ players were not shocked by O’Brien being fired after being informed during a meeting this afternoon. The only thing that surprised them was the timing of the move. 

According to Wilson, O’Brien had lost the confidence of the organization, including several players and staff, and was increasingly prone to arguments with staff. There was reportedly a recent and loud verbal exchange in front of players on the practice field.

As for what Houston could do next: 

  • Rapoport notes Easterby has strong Patriots connections which make New England OC Josh McDaniels and possibly GM Nick Caserio names to watch. 
  • Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller says the team loves DC Anthony Weaver and views him as a potential future head coach one day. 
  • NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein mentions former GM Rick Smith still is close with ownership and could make his way back to the franchise. 
  • Other candidates include Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Bills OC Brian Daboll and Ravens OC Greg Roman as logical options this offseason. (Wilson)
  • Albert Breer mentions that Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was actually going to bring Jack Easterby with him to Indianapolis in 2017 before he backed out of the job. 
  • According to Breer, Easterby is also “very friendly” with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

We’ll have more on the Texans coaching search as the news is available. 

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