"You guys are in good hands down there in Houston." That's what New England Patriots Pro Bowler Mathew Slater told us about Bill O'Brien.
O'Brien spent five seasons as an assistant with the Pats, coaching wide receivers, quarterbacks and as offensive coordinator, before his two year stint as the top man at Penn State.
"He was my first position coach." said Slater. "He taught me so much about being a pro. He really pushed to get a lot out of me." That's high praise from a man who was drafted in the fifth round as a wide receiver and has made his mark as a special teamer, making three Pro Bowls.
Logan Mankins, a New England guard and five time Pro Bowler, concurs. "He has a lof of passion and knowledge for the game. He's a great guy to be around and to play for." he said. "People in Houston, they should be excited. He's a tremendous coach. Mankins and Slater would much rather be in Super Bowl than here in Hawaii but at least Mankins has gotten there twice and Slater, who was drafted in 2008, once. O'Brien went to two Super Bowls with the Patriots.
As far as the comparisons to Bill Belichick, Slater offered this: "There are similarities but he's his own man." Mankins added "He's been around a bunch of good coaches. He didn't just learn from one guy."
O'Brien is currently finalizing his staff and evaluating the current Texans players. Then it's off to the combine to take a look at some prospective future Texans starting February 19. After that, free agency begins March 11.