HOUSTON — From his never-quit-moving attitude to running back and forth between fields, head coach Bill O’Brien is injecting new life into the Houston Texans at training camp.
O’Brien, in his first season as an NFL head coach, is easy to spot on the field, or hear for that matter, as he is seemingly everywhere at once on any of the practice fields. If any player makes a miscue, O’Brien is sure to call him out to run a lap or complete some up-downs, no matter if it is a rookie or a veteran.
"I love it. It’s great," star wideout Andre Johnson says. "The one thing that I like about him, and I think that’s the thing when I first met him, he’s straight up with you. He will let you know what needs to be heard. He’s not just going to tell you what you want to hear. I love his demeanor; it’s fun. I think just his whole attitude and everything he brings is a lot of fun."
Still recovering from a 2-14 record from last season, the Texans need to make sure they start hitting on all cylinders from the get-go. With O’Brien in the fold, things obviously have changed.
"It’s accountability; holding everyone accountable," tackle Duane Brown said. "[O’Brien] holds all of us to high expectations and we’re professionals, so you gotta come out here about your business and know your cues or he’s gonna make you pay for it. Yeah, there are fewer breaks. We’re always going. But it’s good. That’s the beauty of the grind."
From the moment O’Brien steps on to the field, he gets down to business. The old-school coaching mentality has him focused on nothing but football, and he makes sure to get his players in the same mindset.
"It’s strict business," cornerback Jonathan Joseph said. "It’s all about going in and putting the hard work in and eliminating the distractions outside of football. The moment he hits the practice field and the game field it’s all about football. He just wants to see you take what you learn in the classroom and take it out to the practice field and progress."
One of the most talked about changes O’Brien has brought to the Texans is the blaring loud music he plays during drills at practice.
"I might have to bring some earplugs," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "It was pretty loud but it’s great for us as an offense; being able to communicate whether it’s with facial expressions and looks or hand signals and being able to get everybody on the same page in the most difficult environment."
Like Fitzpatrick learned, O’Brien has a reason for cranking up the tunes with speakers placed at each of the four corners of the practice field at Methodist Training Center.
"You’re out there as a player on your own. You’ve got to figure it out in communication with your teammates, so (when) you crank the music, it forces communication among teammates," O’Brien said. "Then they get to know each other’s body language and how they do a signal or how they do this or how they do that. I think that is good. And then obviously, I just see, I believe, a difference in the enthusiasm and the tempo of practice when you crank the practice."
O’Brien said he is usually the one who picks the music, ranging from Dropkick Murphys to Toby Keith to T.I., but also gets input from the players from time to time.
"It’s a big thing because I love music and the players love music," O’Brien said. "My thing is all we do is that we try to make sure that it is respectful music and that everyone gets a little taste of each other’s music or whichever ones they like. We just try to crank it loud and the guys seem to enjoy it. They make fun of me a lot because of my selections, but it’s all in good humor. It’s fun."
While dramatic changes to the organization can sometimes be difficult for those who played under a different coaching style, the Texans so far say they love the energy and winning attitude O’Brien brings to the table.
"[O’Brien] does a great job," star defensive end J.J. Watt said. "He’s very energetic. But he’s also very smart. He’s knowledgeable of every position. He knows what everybody is supposed to do. So when he coaches you, he’s coaching you legitimately and it’s great. When your head coach works hard, it makes you want to work hard for your head coach. That’s always a good thing. He’s put together a great staff and he’s got the players on the right track. It’s enjoyable. It’s fun to come to practice. It’s fun to work."