Just four games into the 2020 NFL season, Bill O’Brien watched his tenure as the head coach of the Houston Texans come to an abrupt end. The 50-year-old got fired on Monday after getting off to an 0-4 start.
Ironically, the man he brought in to help take the Texans to the next level just took control of the franchise. And it just so happens that Jack Easterby could harken back to his New England Patriots roots to find a new head coach and general manager.
The Bill O’Brien era is over in Houston
A former Patriots coach himself, Bill O’Brien took over as the head coach of the Texans in 2014. He led the team to a 9-7 record in three straight seasons before plummeting to 4-12 in 2017.
While Houston did well to land Deshaun Watson, O’Brien’s recent personnel moves have been met with widespread skepticism. He first traded Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks for a package that did not even include a single first- or second-round pick. O’Brien then traded two first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil and ended up signing the left tackle to a record-setting contract.
This offseason, O’Brien shocked the NFL community by trading DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Once again, he failed to get back a first-round pick for a player considered to be one of the best at his position.
Overall, the Texans never seemed to have a clear direction with Bill O’Brien running the show. And after going 52-48 in the regular season, and just 2-4 in the postseason, Houston finally cut ties with him and ceded control of the franchise to Jack Easterby.
A former Patriots coach just took control of the Texans
Stunningly, the man Bill O’Brien hired less than two years ago has completely taken over the Texans. So who exactly is Jack Easterby?
Currently listed as the executive vice president of football operations, he actually does not have much of a football background from an X’s and O’s standpoint. Before he got hired by the Texans, Easterby spent six seasons with the Patriots.
However, rather than coaching a position group, he served as the team’s character coach. He served in a similar role with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2011-12.
Since he joined Houston, though, Easterby has seen his role expand quite rapidly. Originally brought on as the team’s EVP of team development, the former Patriots staffer has gained significant power within the organization and reportedly “has the ear of Texans owner Cal McNair,” according to Albert Breer.
And now that Bill O’Brien is out, don’t be surprised if the former Patriots coach tries to steal a few members from Bill Belichick’s staff.
Jack Easterby could pluck a few key staff members from Bill Belichick
Jack Easterby played an important role for the Patriots during their recent string of Super Bowl championships. Now, he could be the reason Josh McDaniels departs New England. In fact, the offensive coordinator may not be the only Patriots staff member who could leave this offseason for Houston.
Nick Caserio, the team’s de facto general manager, also has close ties with Easterby. Houston even tried to persuade Bill Belichick’s right-hand man to leave New England back in 2019. However, the Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans for attempting to hire Caserio to be their new GM.
But with Bill O’Brien gone, Easterby could make his dream come true and import the McDaniels-Caserio duo this offseason. For McDaniels, joining the Texans would give him a chance to take over a roster that already features the most important piece: a franchise quarterback.
For Caserio, the chance to run his own team without Belichick could be enticing. Plus, getting to do so alongside McDaniels and Easterby certainly would represent a radical change for the longtime Patriots executive.
As fate would have it, Houston got rid of one former Patriots coach in order to give another one even more power. Just don’t be surprised if Jack Easterby brings in more reinforcements from New England.