Houston Texans try to quiet noise about Bill O'Brien's future

By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 11, 2017 at 1:05 AM
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HOUSTON -- The noise surrounding the future of Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien hasn't quieted down despite owner Bob McNair insisting he won't be fired and the two-time AFC South champion having two years remaining on a five-year contract.

There continues to be speculation nationally that O'Brien could potentially become available for head-coaching vacancies due to reported clashes with general manager Rick Smith and a desire for more power over personnel decisions.

O'Brien has gone 9-7 for three consecutive seasons and reiterated Monday that he's happy working for the Texans and emphasized that the talk about his status isn't affecting the focus of the team as it prepares for an AFC divisional-round game against the New England Patriots.

"Absolutely not, no, there's no distraction," O'Brien said. "Like I said after the game, I really enjoy coaching this team. I think one of the things about coming to work here every day is it's a great place to work because you have really good people here and you have a bunch of great players that really understand the meaning of hard work and have put a lot of time into this thing.

"The other thing is our staff. I really enjoy working with our staff. We had a good staff meeting, trying to get going here on an obviously very difficult challenge for us. Just enjoy every day."

With so many job openings, O'Brien would be an extremely attractive candidate. However, he's not available unless McNair changes his mind and fired him or worked out a trade to receive compensation for allowing O'Brien to go elsewhere or O'Brien opted to quit and walked away from $10 million to $12 million over the remainder of the contract and wouldn't be able to coach elsewhere in 2017 or 2018 unless McNair allowed him out of his contract.

All of those factors make it appear to be a farfetched scenario that O'Brien would leave. O'Brien has repeatedly said he enjoys living and working in Houston. O'Brien and his wife, Colleen, also have a son, Jack, who requires specialized medical care because he suffers from lissencephaly, a genetic condition that causes developmental issues.

"There's nothing to it," McNair said following the Texans' AFC wild-card playoff game win over the Oakland Raiders when questioned about reports that O'Brien would have been fired if they had had lost that game. "I'm not going to fire him. Forget that. If I were you, I wouldn't repeat it because it's false. No, I don't know where they get that. I got a chuckle out of it."

--Texans backup quarterback Tom Savage has been cleared under the mandatory NFL concussion testing protocol after missing the playoff win against the Oakland Raiders.

Savage will be available to be the backup Saturday in an AFC divisional-round playoff game against the New England Patriots. Brandon Weeden was the backup against the Raiders.

"He'll be ready to practice," Texans HEAD coach Bill O'Brien said. "He should be ready to go."

Savage was the Texans' starter, but was replaced by Brock Osweiler with the first-string offense after the head injury. In three games and two starts, Savage completed 46 of 73 passes for 461 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions for an 80.9 passer rating.

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