Bill O’Brien named his former graduate assistant, Tim Kelly, the Houston Texans’ offensive coordinator in 2019. As he once did to George Godsey, O’Brien later rescinded Kelly’s ability to call plays during Houston’s 0-4 streak to start the 2020 season. Once O’Brien was fired, Kelly was allowed to run the Texans’ offense again.
Kelly did the bare minimum. He utilized a spread passing attack with Deshaun Watson, allowing him to stretch and read the defense and pick his way through it. When nothing was open, Watson would take off to pick up positive yards. The thing we had all been clamoring for years for was here. The Texans had the best passing offense they ever had during the O’Brien era, and it came after O’Brien was fired.
The Texans forced David Culley to keep Kelly as the offensive coordinator during the regime change last year. That was something strange, something that is rarely seen. At the time, it seemed like a half-hearted attempt to appease Deshaun Watson after the trade request was made and before the sexual assault allegations went public. With Watson no longer in the team’s plans, Kelly had the honor of leading a Tyrod Taylor-Davis Mills offense in 2021.
Houston had a terrible rushing offense in 2021. The offensive line was mismanaged once again. The Texans tried to be an outside zone team despite not having the players to run it. They didn’t have the strength to move the line of scrimmage to run gap scheme plays. Aside from Mark Ingram, no running back could break tackles. The entire thing was a mess.
Because of this, the Texans couldn’t run play-action passes to control the ball with Taylor. When Taylor came back from his injury, he was worse than ever before. The offense was subsequently designed by Fisher Price when Davis Mills first came in, but by the end of the season, Kelly finally did what he did with Watson—spread the field and allow Mills to work from the shotgun. Unfortunately, it typically took Houston being down by two scores for this to happen.
Kelly was fired shortly after David Culley last month. He couldn’t design a competent rushing attack. He didn’t know how to call play-action build off the run. It took him falling behind to run an offense that actually worked.
Former Texans always have a job with Mike Vrabel, though. The Tennessee TItans are bringing Kelly in to be their offensive assistant, where he will help design Tennessee’s passing game.
Texans’ coaching staff, if Lovie Smith is retained, sources expect staff to include Frank Ross as special teams coordinator, and Pep Hamilton, who interviewed for Giants and Bears’ OC jobs, to be promoted to offensive coordinator
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) February 7, 2022
The Texans also lost defensive line coach Bobby King, who will coach linebackers with the Titans, tight ends coach Andy Bischoff (to the New York Giants) and, as previously reported, offensive line coach James Campen to the Carolina Panthers.
Houston could nearly retain its entire remaining staff
if and when they name Lovie Smith the head coach. In the meantime, I’m sure Kelly is going to have a blast joining Ben Jones, D’Onta Foreman, and other former Texans in Nashville. Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun there.