The Houston Texans fired David Culley today in what should be a huge, blinking message to the rest of the league in capital letters that they are not to be taken seriously. Culley was given the reins to a completely barren roster and managed to overachieve, winning four games despite starting a person named Davis Mills at quarterback. It is disgraceful that they so blatantly treated Culley as a placeholder and scapegoat and karmic punishment should be imminent.
But it is the NFL and there are only 32 head coaching jobs in the entire league. Someone will want to go work for the Texans, even if they are a despicable franchise, because the prestige of being a head coach of a professional football team outweighs any and all concerns.
Football-wise, the organization is in a terrible place. They still haven’t managed to get rid of Deshaun Watson, who is currently taking up a roster spot and getting paid $35 million to not do anything worse than he already has while his off-field issues are dealt with. Houston will have their own (high) draft picks to play with in the upcoming years but it’s a serious rebuild job. You can count on one hand how many players on the 2021 roster are worth keeping around for the long-term. This will be a half-decade process unless gold is unexpectedly struck.
With all that in mind, here are a few options for Culley’s replacement.
Flores immediately became the most popular available head coach after he was strangely fired by the Miami Dolphins for what now appears to be internal conflict rather than any issue with his skills. As a former Patriots coach, he immediately becomes the top option here. Flores also reportedly had a connection with Watson, which may or may not change things. Either way, Flores is a good coach and has the connections the higher-ups are looking for. It took less than an hour after Culley’s dismissal for the first reports connecting Flores and the Texans to emerge.
McDaniels is the guy everybody thought the Texans wanted after they fired Bill O’Brien but nothing ever materialized for numerous reasons. The longtime Patriots offensive coordinator has rehabilitated his image a bit after two catastrophic attempts at head coaching– one in Denver, where he was fired after two years, and a half-attempt in Indy where he committed to taking the gig and backed out at the last second. He’s now back in the head coach cycle and checks a lot of boxes for any team looking to find a good HC– previous experience to lean on (and learn from), a mind for putting up points in bunches, and the ability to craft an offense around any kind of quarterback. It goes against Cal McNair’s insistence that the Texans aren’t just Patriots South, but did any of us really believe him anyway?
The former Patriot linebacker-turned-DC has been a surprising addition to this year’s coaching cycle rumors. The Broncos have already requested an interview with Mayo and his name keeps popping up in the “candidates to keep an eye on” category. Given Mayo only joined Bill Belichick’s coaching staff a few years ago, we don’t really have a good idea of who he is as a coach. We know that his primary focus is on defense and he presumably knows how to lead a team after spending seven years as captain of the Patriots’ defense during his playing days. Hiring Mayo would be quite a swing to take for a franchise that desperately needs a steady hand to improve things, but Mayo could grow with the team as Houston builds its way back up. Also, he’s a Patriot.