HOUSTON -- Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said he thinks he will be back for the 2018 season and has had "positive" and "productive talks" with owner Bob McNair about signing a contract extension during this offseason.
O'Brien has one season remaining on the five-year contract he signed when he took over in Houston in 2014. O'Brien said he and McNair are now focused on making sure that whoever is hired to replace Rick Smith as general manager shares the same philosophies he does. After the Texans' season-finale loss on Sunday, Smith announced he is taking a leave of absence to help take care of his wife as she battles breast cancer. Smith will retain his title as executive vice president but indicated on Monday that the Texans could name a new general manager while he is gone.
"I think the big thing for me, and I think the big thing for the McNairs [owner Bob and his son Cal McNair] ... is alignment," O'Brien said. "Being aligned philosophically on what type of team we want."
O'Brien reiterated that he enjoys being the head coach of the Texans and said he and the McNairs are having positive meetings about any changes that the organization will make in Smith's absence. O'Brien repeated that the discussions are ongoing and that he is not yet sure how the organization will approach the upcoming season in the front office.
"I really enjoy being the head coach here," O'Brien said. "I think we have the makings of a good football team with the core players that we have here. I really think there's a bright future for this organization, no doubt about it."
O'Brien also said quarterback Deshaun Watson is ahead of schedule as he recovers from his torn right ACL and could be back in some capacity for the Texans' organized team activities. OTAs begin in mid-April and go until mid-June. Watson was originally given a timeline of eight to nine months for his rehab from early November surgery, which would have put him on the field in time for training camp.
"[Watson is] doing a great job," O'Brien said. "He's been here every day, working hard to get better, and I believe he's ahead of schedule. Exactly what he could do in OTAs, I wouldn't be able to tell you that now, but I do think there's a chance that he could be out there during OTAs doing something."