The Texans and Patriots will face off on Saturday, but on Tuesday the two head coaches spoke very highly of one another.
“Billy is a great coach He’s one of the best coaches in this league, one of the best coaches in football,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “We saw that at Penn State, too. He’s got a great football mind, does a great job of motivating the players. He’s one of the top coaches I’ve been around, period.”
That type of praise made Texans head coach Bill O’Brien return the favor.
“Coming from Bill, that means a lot,” O’Brien said. “Anybody that gets that type of praise from Bill, it’s obvious that it means a lot to me and to whoever he praises like that. I know he has a lot of respect for us and we have a ton of respect for him. The relationship when I was there was a good one, we worked very hard and he was a great mentor to me.”
O’Brien joined the Patriots in 2007 as an offensive assistant. Even back then, Belichick knew the young coach could be something special.
“He had a lot of coaching experience from his other positions in college and really what he needed was just a little bit of time to become familiar with our offensive system and the things that are – the way that we do them.” Belichick said. “He’s very smart, adapted very quickly, figured it out in a hurry and was a great asset to all of the staff members. He was a big asset to me and then he took over the offense.”
O’Brien went from an offensive assistant to offensive coordinator in 2011. What the Texans head coach learned in his time with Patriots has shaped him into the coach he is now.
“When you’re fortunate enough to work there as a coach, as a personnel guy or whatever your role is there,” O’Brien said. “If you’re smart and you take advantage of knowing that you’re working in a great place and it is a little bit of classroom, especially when you’re working for him. All of us that have worked for him owe him a debt of gratitude for all the things that he taught us.”
The Texans are 1-7 all-time against New England, 0-3 under Bill O’Brien.