The Alabama Crimson Tide completed the perfect season for the first time since 2015. With their offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian leaving to be the head coach of the Texas Longhorns, Alabama needed a new leader of the offense. On Thursday, head coach Nick Saban hired former Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien to be the new offensive coordinator. O’Brien was the head coach of the Texans for the last seven seasons. He was also the offensive coordinator of the Penn State Nittany Lions for two seasons in 2012 and 2013. This continues the trend at Alabama of hiring high-caliber assistants or head coaches from the NFL after their disappointing stints. This hire for O’Brien as the new offensive coordinator for Alabama was the best possible hire this offseason.
Why Bill O’Brien is the Right Hire for the Alabama Crimson Tide
O’Brien Will Utilize the Most from Alabama’s Players
Since 2011, O’Brien is a brilliant offensive mind that can utilize the most from his players. The Patriots had five offensive players that were selected to the Pro Bowl in the 2011 NFL season. They were ranked third in the league in points per game (32.1) and second in passing yards per game (317.8). In his two years at Penn State, O’Brien created an offense that excelled in under two different quarterbacks. The Nittany Lions had the 35th ranked passing offense (273.6 yards) in 2012 and 37th ranked passing offense (259.2 yards) in 2013. This was largely due to the utilization of two-time First-Team All-Big Ten wide receiver Allen Robinson. O’Brien had an offense for Houston that ranked in the top half of the NFL in rushing yards per game in his first six seasons (2014-2019).
His best season with the Texans as head coach/offensive coordinator was in 2018. Houston’s offense ranked 11th in the league in points per game (25.1). Quarterback Deshaun Watson, running back Lamar Miller, and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins were all selected to the Pro Bowl. Alabama will have a great setup of talent in the passing game and running game in the 2021 season. O’Brien will have the challenge of creating a system that complements the potential of sophomore dual-threat quarterback Bryce Young. He created systems that established the relationship of Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski as well as established Watson as a top-five quarterback.
O’Brien and Saban are Both Bill Belichick Assistants
Like coach Saban, O’Brien has been a former assistant and disciple of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. O’Brien was an assistant for the Patriots for several seasons with several different roles. He spent 2007 as an offensive analyst, a wide receiver coach in 2008, a quarterbacks coach in 2009 and 2010, and 2011 as the offensive coordinator. O’Brien has learned the same coaching technique and manner from Belichick and Saban also learned. Both Saban and O’Brien have the experience and coaching style of their former mentor. They know their role and what they have to do to get their teams in the best position possible. With both coaches on the same coaching staff, they will work together to get their team in playing shape for 2021.
O’Brien Will Keep His Role in Check for Alabama
The biggest downfall for O’Brien in his seven years with Houston wasn’t his actions on-the-field. O’Brien became the Texans’ general manager on January 28th, 2020 after the title was vacant the year before. With more control of the team, O’Brien made changes to Houston that were severely self-destructing. On March 20th, O’Brien traded four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick. It was one of the most lopsided trades in recent NFL history. It was a move based on the emotions of O’Brien. With O’Brien as the new offensive coordinator for Alabama, his role will be suppressed so he will learn to keep his emotions under wraps. These are moves that will destroy a coaches’ resume.
Saban will Help O’Brien Rebrand and Reload
Much like Sarkisian after his firing from the Atlanta Falcons, O’Brien looks to use his coaching talent and second chance to lead Alabama’s offense. Under coach Saban, Alabama has become a program that helps the rehabilitation of high-caliber coaches, who have either fired or made some terrible decisions on of off-the-field. O’Brien is another coach like Sarkisian, Charlie Strong, and Butch Jones, who will look to rebound his coaching career while attempting to give Alabama another potential championship. He will get his chance to replicate the same high-power offense left by Sarkisian.