Bobby Slowik Aims to Not Matter
The first year offensive coordinator has a plan to set the Texans up for success
“It’s just lines on a piece of paper.”
Bobby Slowik is being modest.
The offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans has this title for the first time. To Slowik, his playbook, which has been called voluminous by tight end Dalton Schultz and compared in size to “ a Bible” by running back Dameon Pierce, is simply a conduit. It is a helpful map of the path to success for this offense.
“And at the end of the day,” Slowik mused earlier this week, “what the playbook really is, is a way for the players to just make it come to life, and that’s a lot of what we do is we just want to install the foundations of formations, movement and concepts—run and pass—to put the guys we have in the best position they can be in to do what they excel at.”
Slowik clearly has a plan for success. The foundation for the team needs to be built. Relentless work, Slowik says, will take him out of the equation. He says as the players perform and “make everything come to life” it will make it so what he’s doing doesn’t matter.
Oh, it matters. It matters a ton for the Texans.
Slowik is the top offensive mind in the building. This offense, for better or worse, will be stewarded by him throughout the 2023 season. He is the fourth-different person to call plays for the Texans in four years. Bill O’Brien called plays until he was fired and assistant Tim Kelly took over. Kelly called plays for the rest of 2020 and all of 2021 and was not brought back. Pep Hamilton had the headset last season.
The charge for Slowik is simple but complicated: be better. Despite not having many more spots to tumble down, it won’t be an easy climb out of the offensive cellar. The wideouts are inexperienced. Right now the tight ends are hurt. The running backs and offensive line aren’t issues, but they aren’t without faults.
Oh, and there’s the second selection in the 2023 NFL draft who most believe will start the season as the quarterback.
Slowik has praised C.J. Stroud’s performance to this point. When asked directly for the first time about Stroud, Slowik began a diatribe about how well Storud has handled the heat and how the heat affects the slickness of the ball due to moisture and dealing with a center who has been working outside and running down the field who might be “a little greased up.”
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“Training camp is about good-on-good,” Slowik said, “not always having a perfect play, and seeing if we can make it work because that winds up paying off in season.”
It hasn’t always been pretty with Stroud and Slowik has been more than fine with that.
“I think it’s massive that you go through bumps in the road on your journey,” he said. “Like, the season is so long in the NFL, and you can get to Week 8 and you don’t even remember what happened in Week 2, and there’s so many hiccups along the way across the board, just being able—at that position—to learn how to handle them. How to respond to a coach, how to respond to a teammate, how to respond to yourself.”
The team has responded to Slowik so far. Dalton Schultz praised the teaching techniques of his offensive coordinator. Dameon Pierce gushed about the basics being installed and how those basics set the offense up for success in future plays.
C.J. Stroud fell in love with the offense.
Bobby Slowik’s path to now has included time under some incredible offensive minds. He first coached under Mike Shanahan in Washington, where he helped coach the defense against now Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and now San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. He later worked under Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco on a staff that also included now Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel.
What’s something he picked up from those minds he can apply to his coaching right now?
Well, it’s a messy answer. Not the knowledge. Messy pockets for quarterbacks. That’s the “top thing” for Slowik.
“So, your starting point for handling that, for me, took awhile to understand, ‘Okay, do we just tell him to move?’ Or how exactly do you coach that? And it’s what really hammered in the importance of footwork to me. I would say that’s the number one thing for a young quarterback, and there’s a lot.”
It’s that solid base, the foundation Slowik has harped on, that will set his quarterback up for success.
“Obviously, that position demands a lot, but being able to trust your footwork and trust your mindset and what you’re seeing enables you to react to really all the chaos that winds up going on around you at that position. Once you start feeling that, that’s when things start clicking.”
Being an offensive coordinator is clearly more than creating “lines on a piece of paper.” And Slowik has done an excellent job explaining why it’s important to move beyond the playbook, his playbook, for the players. He’s attempting to put in a foundation that will make 2023 a success.
The Texans hope there are plenty of lines, in places like this website, talking about the success of the first-time offensive coordinator putting in a foundation that will set the organization up for years to come.