Bill O’Brien: Changing the Texans’ offense is a big project this offseason

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Texans coach Bill O’Brien has run his own offensive system since he was offensive coordinator in New England, head coach at Penn State and at the start of his tenure in Houston. But that was before he had Deshaun Watson.

O’Brien said this morning on PFT Live that now that he has Watson as his franchise quarterback, he is making significant changes to his offense to make sure it takes advantage of Watson’s unique skills, as well as the skills of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins and other talented players on Houston’s roster.

“It’s a very big project but it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun to get in there with the offensive staff and figure out how we can do things differently than we’ve done in the past. I think you have to be willing to change in this league relative to the talent you have,” O’Brien said. “Deshaun has a unique skill set at the position and we’re looking at his skill set as well as Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller, D'Onta Foreman, Ryan Griffin some of the other guys we have on offense and really trying to put it all together.”

The most important priority will be keeping Watson healthy after he suffered a season-ending knee injury last year.

“Deshaun has a style of play that allows himself to stay out of trouble most of the time. He knows when to slide, he knows when to duck out of bounds, he’s got a good instinct for the game,” O’Brien said. “The other thing we’ve tried to do is improve the offensive line and that’s something we’re going to continue to try to do. We have to do a better job of protection. We have to coach it better, we have to play better. I think that’s going to help him.”

Last year Watson spent training camp and the preseason as a backup and didn’t start until Week Two. This year, with an offense built around him and a full offseason of work, Watson could be even better. As long as he’s healthy.

30 responses to “Bill O’Brien: Changing the Texans’ offense is a big project this offseason

  1. Let me get this straight: The offensive system that had DeShaun Watson on pace to be the NFL’s MVP (prior to his season ending injury) is being changed so much that the head coach described it as “a very big project”?

  2. Here’s hoping one of those changes is better line talent than you’ve acquired thus far. All the changes to take advantage of Watson’s skills won’t matter if he’s out rehabbing a knee again.

  3. Isn’t it kind of misleading for the head coach to be singing the praises of his QB for avoiding injury after he just hurt himself for half of last season? I understand propping him up but that kind of ruins the credibility of the interview right there… don’t get me wrong I am rooting for Watson, but I am VERY skeptical that he stays healthy for a whole season. He comes across like an RGIII part 2.

  4. Get what you’re saying, but it seemed like a lot of the points came from playground breakdowns, a la Rodgers. Not sure you can make a living on that, especially thru the playoffs.

  5. It seems as though O’Brien is needlessly revamping an offense that was really rolling last year until Watson went down? Someone should say…’Coach, if it ain’t broke, why try and fix it’?! Like finding an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  6. Isn’t it kind of misleading for the head coach to be singing the praises of his QB for avoiding injury after he just hurt himself for half of last season? I understand propping him up but that kind of ruins the credibility of the interview right there… don’t get me wrong I am rooting for Watson, but I am VERY skeptical that he stays healthy for a whole season. He comes across like an RGIII part 2.

  7. steelerdeathstar says: “It seems as though O’Brien is needlessly revamping an offense that was really rolling last year until Watson went down?”
    ———————-

    O’Brien runs a very complicated Erhardt-Perkins offense. Takes 3-4 years for QBs to master all the intricacies to be good in that system. What Watson excelled last year was a very basic version (ie rookie-safe) with natural talent helping him out of most tough situations.

    Problem is, D co-ordinators now have game film and whole off-season to scheme. O’Brien probably realizes he doesn’t have much time (maybe 1-2 years even with extension) to win to keep his job.

  8. Actually O’Brien was tweaking his offense on the fly last year. Now they are updating it. As Kraigk1 pointed out, a lot of Watsons success was on broken plays.

  9. Yeah, I recall when he revamped NE’s offense, when he took over for McDaniels, from throwing downfield to Moss and Welker to throwing countless bubble screens and other 1 yard passes.

  10. No one was talking Desean Watson for League MVP. He was in the conversation for Rookie of the Year but not MVP. Carson Wentz was firmly in front in the MVP race and would’ve won had he not gotten injured. And, let;s tap the brakes on Desean Watson hype already. He had a losing record as a starter even with his stats. And he only played in 7 games. Let’s not anoint him just yet.

  11. Well, I’m sure getting sacked 19 times in 6.5 games didn’t help. O’Brien needs to protect his star more, otherwise Watson is just going to end up like RG3.

    Watson also threw 8 picks in 6.5 games, suggesting that he could probably use a little continuity. That was foreseeable, especially in light of the fact that every other play was a pass to Deandre Hopkins. Don’t get me wrong, Hopkins is really great, but the NFL will scheme around that.

  12. i really don’t like O’Brien as a head coach. Something about him just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s the stupid chin.

  13. akira554 says: “O’Brien runs a very complicated Erhardt-Perkins offense.”
    ———————

    Just realized this – maybe it’s his way of politely saying that Watson isn’t “smart” enough to digest the offense system beyond the basics. The EP system has a lot of reciever option routes that require the WR/TE and QB to be on the same page in terms of reading the defensive coverage.

  14. “Isn’t it kind of misleading for the head coach to be singing the praises of his QB for avoiding injury after he just hurt himself for half of last season? I understand propping him up but that kind of ruins the credibility of the interview right there”

    He got hurt in practice on a routine handoff with no contact…I think OB is referring to being able to avoid the big smash hits/sacks…

  15. Watson looked pretty good last year in the system they had. So, unless they are adding more of the pass/run read options that Philadelphia used very well last year, I don’t know why you would change things up that much. If you think Watson can run the read option plays as well as Wentz/Foles did last season, then adding in more of that would seem to make sense.

  16. I’m sure I’ll get a boatload of thumbs-down for this, but they really REALLY need to sign Kaepernick to back up Watson. If Watson goes down again, Kaep can keep the season from going down in flames again, especially since their games are similar.

  17. Do people not study the game of football? O’Brien is running the exact same offense that Shanahan ran in 2012 with very few exceptions. The difference, he has a QB in Watson that wants to learn how to master the position and system and the talent to run it to perfection. You will see him get better and better. He had an injury but he knows when to slide and how to protect himself. Just the opposite of RG3. RG3 was a Diva and Watson is not. Watson will keep growing where RG3 thought he knew it all.

  18. Slow Joe (Bucs fan) says: “Kaep can keep the season from going down in flames again, especially since their games are similar.”
    ———————

    Putting aside all that kneeling stuff, Kaep is absolutely horrible for the Erhardt-Perkins system. One of the most important traits is that the QB needs to read the defense and be on the same page as his recievers, as most routes are determined by what they see. A lot of the throws in the system is also based on anticipation, something Kaep has never been proficient at.

  19. Watson surprised a lot of people last year before he went down. Teams weren’t ready for him. “That offense” won’t work again this year. Defenses are too smart. So, O’Brien is on the right track by tweaking the offense to fit Watson. Will it work? We’ll see.

  20. So now on third and eight we will run off right tackle instead of off left tackle. As time runs out!

  21. Much of last year’s offense was developed based on the assumption that Tom Savage would be the starting QB.

    All O’Brien is saying here is that Watson has a different set of skills. He looks more confident on the field, is more decisive, and (at least before the injury) had more mobility than Savage.

    He may or may not be more accurate at this point. Time to take the training wheels off the playbook and find out. But I agree with the comments above about beefing up the OL.

    As for the INTs, rookie QBs who are NOT throwing interceptions are actually pretty easy to find – they wear baseball caps and carry clipboards.

  22. Hey Houston use your 1st and 2nd round draft choices on some offensive personell to support Watson. Oh, that’s right you don’t have any. Barkley sure would have looked good in that Houston backfield.

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