Houston Texans GM Rick Smith is taking an extended leave of absence from the team, according to a report. The most notable incident was Smith signing QB Brock Osweiler without consulting O'Brien prior to the 2016 season.
Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle cited many sources about the clash of egos between the two and the tension that has surrounded the squad because the two dislike each other that much. "I remain committed to our quest to bring a championship to the city of Houston, yet my family needs me now and they are my priority".
What the McNairs don't want is another general manager-coach relationship like the one Smith and O'Brien develoved into in recent years. Smith's contract says he's in charge of personnel, meaning who's signed and released.
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"I don't have any comment on that", O'Brien said on Sunday. But mitigating factors are the season-ending injuries that led to the loss of key players like defensive end J.J. Watt, outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had emerged as a strong candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during an early November practice. Houston has traded away its first- and second-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and does not have a pick until the third round.
At 4-11 entering Sunday's game against the Colts, the Texans are set to finish with their worst record of O'Brien's four-year coaching tenure. He and O'Brien are friends who worked together for five years with the Patriots.
The Texans were apparently deliberating whether or not to fire O'Brien at the end of this season, but that doesn't appear to be the case any longer.