Former Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien got into a heated argument with star defensive end J.J. Watts and other staff members during a recent practice. According to ESPN, the incident occurred in the week leading up to the Texans Week 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Multiple sources have confirmed that O’Brien got into a verbal altercation with Watts and defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver. The former Texans coach called out the team’s defense and instigated arguments with other staff members in multiple departments.
When asked by NFL Network’s James Palmer if O’Brien lost the locker room, several players answered with a resounding, “Yes.” According to ESPN’s John Granato, O’Brien’s heated exchange with Watts sparked a player revolt that ended O’Brien’s seven-year tenure in Houston.
Texans owner Cal McNair officially fired O’Brien on Monday following the team’s 31-23 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Despite winning the AFC South four out of the last five years, O’Brien has made some questionable personnel decisions since becoming the team’s general manager.
Not only did he trade away three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, O’Brien also sacrificed the team’s first-round draft picks in 2021 and 2022 for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Former Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennal was named interim coach while the Texans look for a suitable replacement.
Despite the “verbal blowup” between Watts and his former head coach, the defensive end said he is looking forward to a “fresh start” to hopefully turn the season around before it’s too late.
“I’m not going to talk about what happened at practice or what conversations were had or whatever it may be. The situation is what the situation is and… right now [we] have a fresh start. We had a good practice today and we’re looking forward to Jacksonville,” Watts said.
“When you’re 0-4, obviously things need to change. I mean, it wasn’t working. I appreciate and respect what we had. When you have the talent that we have, specifically at the quarterback position in this league, we can’t be 0-4,” Watts added.
Although one of his last interactions with O’Brien ended in a heated argument, Watts said he wished “no ill-will” toward his former head coach.
“The one thing I’ll say about Bill O’Brien is he always stood up for his players. Certainly, he tried to do whatever possible to support his players and give his players the absolute best support. And I truly believe that he always did what he believed was best for this football team,” Watts said.