The story: Before 2020, Bill O'Brien had a winning reputation. Throw out a 4-12 season with the Houston Texans in 2017 and a string of nine straight losses spanning two seasons (2017 to 2018), and O'Brien had won wherever he’d been, largely under uncertain circumstances.
O’Brien rose through the ranks under Belichick, starting as running backs coach and graduating to offensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011. From there, he took over as head coach of Penn State, replacing Joe Paterno, going 15-9 in two seasons even though the Nittany Lions were serving severe NCAA penalties.
O'Brien returned to the NFL as Texans head coach in 2014. With the Texans, O’Brien won four AFC South titles. The student lost to his mentor 34-16 in the AFC divisional playoff game in 2016, but O'Brien redeemed himself in 2019, and the Texans beat the Patriots 28-22 during a regular-season game in December.
Then, the wheels fell off in Houston, and the Texans fired O'Brien in 2020. But many football people expect O'Brien to get another coaching shot somewhere.