It Begins, O'Brien/Manziel: New Year's Eve's Perfect Texan Storm

sean-bill-obrien.jpg
Photo by BenJones88 via Wikipedia
Welcome to Texas, Bill O'Brien.
At around 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday night, about the time that my girlfriend Amy and I were leaving small, Washington-area Italian joint Patrenella's after a quiet New Year's Eve dinner, that's the time my iPhone started to buzz.

The deluge of tweets and texts (mostly positive) confirmed it -- Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, as had been speculated everywhere for the previous 24 hours, would become the third head coach in the history of the Houston Texans.

"Good, they finally may have gotten this right," was my overriding thought as I climbed into the car to head home for a quiet evening with the internet (and Amy) to read the "Bill O'Brien reaction."

So I turned on the ignition, and with the radio already powered up and tuned into the Chick Fil A Bowl broadcast, it was at this precise moment that we got the radio play by play for the latest in the two year box set of Johnny Manziel's other worldly highlights:

All of a sudden, my reasons for getting home were re-prioritized. I gotta get home to SEE that Johnny Football play, and THEN start doing my O'Brien research. And it was at this point that the sign from the football gods hit me...

Rarely in sports does a franchise (especially one like the Texans, whose culture has hovered somewhere between downtrodden and milquetoast for over a decade now) get an opportunity to completely remake itself, revamp its image, completely hit the reset button on its identity.

The Texans are now halfway there with the hire of O'Brien. It's time to finish the job by drafting Johnny Manziel with the first overall pick.

Let's start with the head coach.

To evaluate O'Brien based solely on the face value of a 15-9 two year record at Penn State doesn't begin to do him justice. His first year there in 2012, with catastrophic expectations, he led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 mark and won the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award. In his second year, he actually became a bit of a victim of expectations raised by his Year 1 performance as the Nittany Lions went 7-5.

But the positive evaluation of Bill O'Brien as a successful future NFL head coach boils down to these three things:

1. Bill O'Brien had the balls to take the Penn State job in the first place.
For a first time head coach, even with the sliding scale of no expectations, the Penn State job on the heels of the Jerry Sandusky scandal could have been a quick career ruiner. Compartmentalizing and succeeding amidst cult-style factions, the cloud of civil lawsuits hanging over the university, and the player poaching by other schools when the NCAA essentially turned every Penn State player into an unrestricted free agent shows a management acumen worthy of a Fortune 500 company. A lot of people like to throw around the "CEO" title for college football head coaches because they delegate and have a presidential aura about them. Forget those other coaches -- O'Brien was really CEO-ing these past two years.

2. Bill O'Brien made an NFL quarterback out of Matt McGloin.
McGloin is best known by most Texan fans as one in a long line of nondescript quarterbacks to notch a win over their hometown team in 2013. (He was in line in between Carson Palmer and Chad Henne.) McGloin is best known by college football fans as a walk-on quarterback who looked clueless whenever he took the field under Paterno's watch. Until O'Brien got to Happy Valley, McGloin played football like a guy being coached by a doddering octogenarian. O'Brien arrived in 2012 and immediately flipped the switch on McGloin, and the senior responded by throwing 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions his final season. Forget about O'Brien's prolific history with Tom Brady as the Hall of Famer's offensive coordinator, the single most impressive coaching feat on O'Brien's resume is the fact that Matt McGloin gets a check from an NFL team (even if it is the Raiders!) each week.

3. Bill O'Brien is smart, tough, and resilient.
If there is a polar opposite to the likably dopey (and after games, mopey) Gary Kubiak, it's the "no nonsense" Brown graduate, Bill O'Brien. If you were an SID trying to "brand" each of these coaches accurately, for Kubiak the package would probably have a DVD of every post game press conference this past season where he protected Matt Schaub as if Schaub were Tom Brady, along with a t-shirt with the words "THAT'S ON ME" in huge letters. If you were branding O'Brien, it would be a DVD of him actually screaming at the real Tom Brady along with a t-shirt with a huge f-bomb on the front of it. At the press conference to fire Kubiak, Texans owner Bob McNair said he was looking for a hire that would "fit into [the team's] culture," but he unwittingly (and refreshingly) may have significantly changed the culture of his franchise with the O'Brien hire.

(Also, clock management and replay challenges become less of an issue under O'Brien than they were with Kubiak, but I think that would be the case if you hired a Madden-playing nine year old in Kubiak's place.)

So the Texans fill their head coaching vacancy with a very un-Texan like hire. My plea now?

Don't stop there, Bob.

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28 comments
bp1697
bp1697

The football reason to stay away from JF is the long line of spread offense QB's who have failed in the NFL. Is he better than RGIII, VY, Andre Ware? Maybe, maybe not. QB's who run a spread offense in college have no idea how to play QB in the NFL. They have 1 or 2 receiver reads at most then scramble around and make plays against less talented defensive players. It is an exciting and successful college offensive scheme, but building an NFL team around a spread offense QB is too risky. Not only is there the risk that the QB never learns how to play NFL QB, the franchise will have to dodge the kid getting hurt the first few years while he is still running around trying to make the plays he made in college.

surflessons
surflessons

I have not followed the OilTexans since Earl Cambell. This is a no brainer for Obrien. You will make Manziel's salary back in jerseys alone. A free draft pick that way.

Ella
Ella

I don't get it. I've had my Oiler Luv Ya Blue heart broken so many times, and then my Texans heart...But I keep hoping, hoping...after every broken season...that my home team will grow some balls. And here's a kid with a real spark, electricity and swagger along with the skill sets to back it up - and by some unexpected aligning of the stars, we have the #1 pick! And all some of you can do is sneer and repeat the same mantra of 'won't translate to the NFL' or even more perplexing, 'he's an immature punk' like we're talking about recruits for your neighborhood Pee Wee league.   This kind of thinking got us a history of mediocrity. This isn't Tebow. The script was already written before he was out of school, the play on the field was self-evident. This is more Tarkington, Archie Manning, Favre.

He may not work out, but that's a risk you take with any if these guys. So what? We make a mistake and get a veteran or trade. If he works out, the world is wonderful. If he doesn't, and he becomes a superstar in Jacksonville, Cleveland, 

Minnesota....we will never get over it. I know I won't. Cmon, Rick Smith, don't make this another Texans 'We could have had..'


Corey Deiterman
Corey Deiterman

Because he's not a solid quarterback and his tenure on whatever NFL team drafts him will be a goddamn fiasco.

Jimi Austin
Jimi Austin

First, because Johnny Football is a dumb name. Second, because we already have a college superstar QB in Case Keenum.

David Alan Turchen
David Alan Turchen

As much as i like Johnny football I have reservations about him as an NFL quarterback. He's been great in collage but I don't think he's surpassed the Longhorn career of Vince Young whose game was similar. We all know how his NFL career has turned out.

frankkikta
frankkikta

Hey we had an Aggie coach and look where he took us. Teddy is the real deal Johnny is a huge risk. I feel the same way about Johnny as I did Vince Young - Johnny may or may not make in the NFL and I for one am ready to move past and not bet on another Aggie. They can all stay in College Station.

david2.0b
david2.0b

"Texan fans have subsisted the last eight years on a steady, vanilla diet of Kubiak and Schaub. That's no way to live." ...AND a Kubi-ectomy... great writing Sean! It's all frosting on the Texan's cake after the Kubi-ectomy. Any shiny new QB for O'brien to mentor should be fun to watch! I'm an Aggie though, so Manziel to the Texans would be a dream come true!

thelastcheese
thelastcheese

I can give you some football reasons.  Manziel has to be an elite scrambler because his pocket presence is not good.  He is skittish in the pocket and is too quick to bail out of it even when the pressure isn't there yet.  Constantly scrambling when it isn't necessary won't go too well with his slight frame in the NFL.  That skittishness is not something you usually see get coached out of a player and it brings to question if he can ever be the type of quarterback who can sit in the pocket and pick apart a defense like Teddy can.


He also is very inconsistent with his mechanics, especially in his base, which effects accuracy and velocity.  


Bridgewater, however, has the positive skill set that is the foundation to be an elite NFL quarterback.  His mental acuity for the game is the one attribute you will 100% of time find in the NFL's elite. (Brady, Manning, Brees, and Rodgers.)  Expect him to have almost the same measurements as Aaron Rodgers did at the combine (6'2" and 225 lbs.)

Steven Perry
Steven Perry

Why is this publication so hard for Jonathon football?

Jacob Bocanegra
Jacob Bocanegra

johnny football is two tequila shots away from date raping someone. hes a punk....

Stuart Leo Dulek
Stuart Leo Dulek

They need to get Jay Cutler first and have Manziel study under him for a couple years like Bledsoe/Brady or Favre/ Rodgers

Puller58
Puller58 topcommenter

Nah.  Johnny Football is the second coming of Doug Flutie.  An observation about Fran Tarkenton before he got started going great guns in the NFL sums up the Doug Flutie/Tony Romo/Johnny Manziel type of QB.  "He'll win some games he should lose, and he'll lose some games he should win."

sopadegato
sopadegato

I agree with this so much it isn't even funny. It may not be the popular pick. It certainly isn't the safe pick. But damn if it isn't the exciting pick. Bridgewater is the "safe" choice. He's done nothing to draw ire, his numbers are solid, and he's a bit taller - but in the NFL post-Drew Brees and Russel Wilson, is height that much of an issue? Bridgewater doesn't inspire any passion, but people either love or hate Manziel, there is no middle ground. Johnny's exciting to watch, he's got everything stat-wise people could want, and he's done it all against far more stout competition - compare the SEC to the AAC sometime - and he's exactly the shot in the arm the Texans need.

surflessons
surflessons

Give Obrien one full season personally coaching Manziel and both will be getting raises. Back up QB should be McGloin too.

surflessons
surflessons

Case played at an unknown college in a unknown league. His starness could adjust Manziels chin strap maybe.

ags2sec
ags2sec

@frankkikta Well, as illogical as it is, I can at least respect your honesty in why you dislike Johnny.  I've seen every hater on the planet harp about his "character problems" and hide behind his lack of prototype size and the fact that he's a spread QB to excuse the real reason......he went to A&M.  These same idiots would take 6'4" scumbag Jamies Winston in a heartbeat over Johnny because he didn't commit the unpardonable sin of attending A&M and lifting them almost singlehandedly into the national spotlight.......grow up and get over it already.  The kid's not prototype size but neither are Russell Wilson or Drew Brees and they seem to be doing just fine.......give the new "QB guru" coach some time with him and watch him fly.  I wouldn't be devastated with Bridgewater but I agree with Sean......here's your chance to turn around this franchise around 180 degrees.  Either take it, or admit you're scared.  Trade down, get an extra pick and take Bortles or Teddy.  Or hell I'd even take Clowney over either of those two.  They're solid but unspectacular QB's........well hell, we've had that for 7 years with Schaub.  If you want more of the same just because you're a Johnny hater.......more power to you, i guess.  Hate on.  And watch some other franchise steal your juice.

valhalla17
valhalla17

I wonder how many people on here partyed and drank when they were 20 like Manziel does. Yeah, let's all get on our high horse and make asinine commments like this. I adds to the quality of this discussion.

Puller58
Puller58 topcommenter

Gawker had a piece on Johnny's family ancestry.  Real low lifes. 

David627
David627

Your wet dreams of a Cutler/Johnny Midget orgy just got dashed, Cutler just signed a new 7 year contract. Come up with another improbable nightmare.

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