The final hiring of the head coaching cycle: David Culley.
Talk about a team who has seen an incredible dip in legitimacy this past month. Going into this cycle I thought this would be a good spot due to the Texans having Deshaun Watson.
The team needed a new GM and head coach, but surely they would want to build around their franchise QB and make everything better for him after Bill O’Brien made it so much worse… as it turns out, O’Brien was far from the only bad actor in this organization.
The team had hired the search firm Korn Ferry to help with their GM and HC vacancies. All of their candidates for GM were from the firm, and the firm believed the team should hire Steelers VP of football and business operations Omar Khan (according to Adam Schefter). Per Albert Breer, the firm believed the team should hire Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as head coach.
Ultimately, the team ignored the recommendations of the firm, and decided to hire Patriots de facto GM Nick Caserio as their GM, who never formally interviewed for the job.
The way the Texans went about hiring Caserio angered Deshaun Watson. The team did not consult him and he felt ignored. Why did Jack Easterby – the former team chaplain for the Patriots – have the ear of the Texans owner, and ultimately get him to hire Caserio, but Watson was shut out of the process?
Watson, who had previously been angry with Houston after they traded WR DeAndre Hopkins last offseason, became enraged. Not only was he shut out of the GM hiring, the team did not listen to his recommendation of hiring Eric Bieniemy; Houston was the only team at the time not to request to interview the Chiefs offensive coordinator.
The head coaching search essentially had to start over after Caserio was hired, and now the team’s star player was preparing to ask for a trade (he has since done so). Suddenly the opening lost it’s luster, and coaches (like Matt Eberflus) were actively avoiding the opening.
It seemed like a different “favorite” was presented everyday, from Eberflus (who ultimately interviewed), to Jim Caldwell, Leslie Frazier and Eric Bieniemy. there was even the news they interviewed CURRENT QB JOSH MCCOWN and could hire him. Nothing made sense.
Finally, the team with the first head coaching vacancy filled theirs last, choosing longtime NFL assistant coach David Culley.
It was a whirlwind to say the least.
Culley, 65, becomes the oldest first-time head coach in NFL history. He was been an NFL assistant since the 1990s, having spent most of his career with Andy Reid, both in Philadelphia (1999-2012) and Kansas City (2013-2016). The past two seasons he was the assistant head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.
I must admit, I had never heard of Culley before the Texans requested to interview him. He’s never been a coordinator in the NFL. The age, zero play calling experience, zero name recognition… it very well might be the most surprising NFL head coach hiring in a very long time.
What does Culley bring to the table?
Experience. He might not have play calling experience, but he has been in the NFL for a LONG time, and more specifically around some of the best head coaches in the league (Andy Reid, Sean McDermott and John Harbaugh).
USA Today asked around the league, and the people they spoke to cited his character, communication skills, leadership and knowledge. Houston is going to need a calm hand to attempt to remedy the Deshaun Watson situation, or perhaps shepherd a rebuild if they do decide on a trade.
Culley seems like a good man, and not many get the opportunity to become an NFL head coach, but I cannot imagine a worse situation to be in.
Houston does not have a first or second round draft pick this year. Will Fuller V is a free agent. Deshaun Watson wants out. If he stays, how even though he’s signed for the next 4 seasons, can you expect him to want to stay for the rest of his career? It’s just a really bad set of circumstances.
Houston could receive a generational package for Watson in a trade, but like when the Raiders traded Khalil Mack, what are the chances you get someone like Watson with the return? Maybe you get the second or third pick and select Justin Fields or Zach Wilson and take advantage of having a QB on a rookie contract for 4 seasons. Even if they don’t turn out to be as good as Watson, you give yourself more cap space to use and more time to rebuild. Still, even if Watson is making over $30 million per year, you have a proven commodity: one of the best QBs in the NFL.
If Culley can guide Houston into the light then he might be one of the best head coaches in the NFL, but I just cannot see this going well. This situation has been fumbled from the start, and quite frankly maybe a dozen people come to mind as better immediate fits at head coach.
It’s not going to end well.
Follow Hold My Drink Sports on Twitter (@holdmysporttake) and Instagram (@holdmytakesports)