Houston Texans star J.J. Watt reportedly had a heated exchange with Bill O’Brien less than two weeks before Monday’s firing of the head coach and general manager.
ESPN reported that the argument occurred during a practice leading up to the team’s Week 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver also was part of the incident that has been pinpointed as the moment when O’Brien “lost the team.”
Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, said Wednesday that he is looking forward to a “fresh start.” But he declined to discuss the report of the practice incident.
“I’m not going to talk about what happened at practice or what conversations were had or whatever it may be,” Watt said. “The situation is what the situation is and we … right now have a fresh start and we had a good practice today and we’re looking forward to (playing) Jacksonville.”
The Texans are 0-4 after losing to the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. O’Brien was fired the next day with a 52-48 regular-season record. Houston reached the playoffs in four of his six full seasons.
Romeo Crennel is serving as interim coach entering Sunday’s game against the visiting Jaguars.
“When you’re 0-4, obviously things need to change. I mean, it wasn’t working,” said Watt, who is in his 10th season with the Texans. “I appreciate and respect what we had. We won four division titles in six years with Bill and I appreciate that and that time, but obviously this year, we’re 0-4 and stuff wasn’t working.”
Watt said he harbors no ill will toward O’Brien.
“The one thing I’ll say about Bill O’Brien is he always stood up for his players,” Watt said. “… 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. So I don’t have ill will at all.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson said he appreciated his time playing for O’Brien and is grateful for the things he learned. Watson is in his fourth season with the team after being a first-round pick (12th overall) in 2017.
“I have the (utmost) respect for Coach O’Brien for getting me to Houston, teaching me what he taught me the four years I’ve been here,” Watson said. “The discipline, just everything as a person, getting ready for professional football. He did a lot of amazing things to help me get two Pro Bowls and win the AFC South every year that I’ve played a full year. So I have all the respect for him and the things, but that’s just how the business goes.”
–Field Level Media