It’s been no secret that Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has been the subject to much criticism. Most of the criticism comes from offseason moves including trading away star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Bill O’Brien has also added running back David Johnson and receiver Brandin Cooks to the offense. Both players have dealt with durability issues the past couple of seasons which has fans concerned.
After being mostly silent during the offseason, O’Brien hosted a press conference Thursday to dive into their offseason moves and the NFL Draft. A number of topics were discussed including the Hopkins trade and who they are targeting in the draft.
Bill O’Brien on the Hopkins Trade
There is a multitude of layers to peel from O’Brien’s comments on trading away Hopkins and his contract extension talks. O’Brien was the first to bring up Hopkins since he knew it would be a topic of discussion.
“I know a lot of people are going to ask me about, probably, the transaction that made the most news, DeAndre Hopkins,” O’Brien said when discussing Hopkins. “First and foremost, I will tell you that DeAndre Hopkins was a great player in Houston. He made a ton of plays for us and just did a great job. Obviously, the production is there, and everybody knows what that production is. I’d say with three years left on his contract, his representatives, himself, myself and our team of people, we spoke and we felt like relative to what I said earlier – salary cap, future, our team, being able to provide our team with more and more role players, layers of players – it was in the best interest of our team to move DeAndre to Arizona.”
He was also asked about the trade and the value they got from Hopkins adding David Johnson and two draft picks. O’Brien mentioned that he was happy with the value he got but wants the media to give it time to show how good of a move it was.
“I have a lot of respect for the media, I’ve always said that,” O’Brien said. “But I think we have to let it all play out. Let it play out. Let the whole thing play out, whether it’s that trade or anything else that we’ve done. I would say let’s review it a year from now, two years from now, three years from now. Let’s let it all play out.”
Bill O’Brien on Alleged Hernandez Comment to Hopkins
Another interesting part of the press conference was when Houston Chronicle writer John McClain asked about the appropriateness of bringing up Aaron Hernandez in an alleged conversation with Hopkins. O’Brien followed by saying that he didn’t have a comment. It’s no surprise that he didn’t answer the question, but more of a surprise that it was asked. That will be something O’Brien will never discuss to the public whether it’s true or not.
O’Brien on Draft Needs
During the press conference, O’Brien was asked about what the team needs in the NFL Draft and how they would be approaching it.
“You’re going to draft based on who is the best player for your team when you’re picking at that pick,” O’Brien said. “Again, if there’s a bunch of players there that you think can fit your team, maybe you think about doing some other things within the draft. But I would say defensive line – we’re looking at all the positions. Safety is another position I think we can add to. We’ve added Eric Murray, we’ve added Jaylen Watkins but we can continue to add depth there. I’d say there’s not one specific need but there’s several.”
The concern for the team has been the drop off they had on defense from 2018 to 2019. In 2018, the defense was top five in points allowed, turnovers, and rushing yards allowed. 2019 did not fare as well as they went from 12th in total defense to 28th. The reason for this is a combination of trading Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt only playing eight regular-season games. While the team brought in key secondary players in Vernon Hargreaves and Bradley Roby, the team lost defensive tackle D.J. Reader. Like O’Brien mentioned, the defense is where the team has to focus on in the NFL Draft.
O’Brien on Fuller’s Recovery and Tunsil’s Contract
Fuller has shown great potential when he has been on the field, but durability has hampered his young career. He’s already dealt with a broken collarbone, pulled hamstring/groin, and torn ACL injuries in four seasons. O’Brien spoke more about how Fuller is doing with his recovery from his nagging hamstring and groin injuries.
“I would say with Will Fuller before we left the stadium and those guys were in the stadium a lot, Will Fuller is doing great,” O’Brien said. “Then, since we’ve left I’ve been in touch with him a couple of times. He’s working out, he looks good. We’re excited about Will. We’re excited about the 2020 Will. We feel like he’s really working, and like I’ve said a lot, when he’s played for us he’s made huge plays and I think he’s looking to have a really good 2020.
Tunsil’s contract discussions was also asked about as the team is looking to lock up the young lineman for multiple years.
“Laremy and I have been in touch quite a bit,” O’Brien said. “Laremy is a great guy, a great part of our team. We’ve been in a lot of contact. I don’t want to get into the details of that but we’re working hard to try to get a deal done.”
It was a solid press conference with reporters asking O’Brien tough questions about the moves the team has made. To O’Brien’s credit, he was able to answer most of their questions and take on the questions head-on. He stood firm on all the moves they have made this offseason while asking everyone to trust him.
The Hopkins trade will be talked about in Houston for years to come as a head-scratching move. O’Brien knew questions about the move will be brought up. He didn’t back down as he feels his team is good enough offensively to flourish with quarterback Deshaun Watson leading the way. If Fuller, Johnson, and Cooks can stay healthy, O’Brien won’t be that far off. The talent is there offensively, but the defense has problems in some parts. Texan fans have to hope and trust that O’Brien has put them in a good enough position to win now.
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