The NFL’s one-and-done head coaching fraternity added another member Thursday.
The Houston Texans reportedly have fired head coach David Culley after one season at the helm, following a 4-13 season. The news came from the NFL Network and was later confirmed by the team, which released a statement ascribing Culley’s ouster to “philosophical differences” between him and general manager Nick Caserio.
“Earlier today, I met with David Culley and Tim Kelly to inform them we will be moving in a different direction at the head coach and offensive coordinator positions. I came to this difficult but necessary decision after reviewing our football operation. While a change after one season is unusual, we had philosophical differences over the long-term direction and vision for our program moving forward. We appreciate Coach Culley for helping us navigate through a difficult season, but it is my responsibility to make decisions that I feel are best for our organization. The search for the next coach of the Houston Texans will begin immediately.”
It’s unclear why the Texans waited days to make the move. They’ll now be seeking the fifth full-time head coach in franchise history.
That now makes seven vacant head coaching positions, and potentially eight, depending on the status of Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who leads his team into a wild-card playoff game Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Culley, 66, had never been a head coach before, and never a true coordinator at the NFL level. Entering the season, the Texans roundly were viewed as the NFL’s weakest roster and the overwhelming favorites to earn the top overall pick in the 2022 draft.
But Culley arguably did a remarkable job with what he had, including no Deshaun Watson, who was a season-long inactive due to his trade demands and sexual-assault allegations against him.
The Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 and later swept the season series against their division rivals. Houston was 3-3 vs. the AFC South on Culley’s watch, having also beaten the Tennessee Titans, the AFC’s top seed in the playoffs. The Texans also shocked the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16, starting third-round rookie QB Davis Mills for 11 games this season.
Since 2006, there have been 12 one-and-done NFL head coaches, including the Jaguars’ Urban Meyer this season. The others include the Raiders’ Art Shell (2006), the Dolphins’ Cam Cameron (2007), the Falcons’ Bobby Petrino (2007), the Seahawks’ Jim Mora (2009), the Raiders’ Hue Jackson (2011), the Jaguars’ Mike Mularkey (2012), the Browns’ Rob Chudzinski (2013), the 49ers’ Jim Tomsula (2015) and Chip Kelly (2016), and the Cardinals’ Steve Wilks (2018).
Culley has worked in the NFL since the mid-1990s, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens.
Caserio could tab a former colleague with the New England Patriots as Culley’s replacement.
Patriots offensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels has been viewed as a favorite for the position, but the surprising firing of ex-Patriots assistant Brian Flores by the Miami Dolphins adds another potential candidate to the mix. Patriots defensive assistant Jerod Mayo is also viewed as a rising star in the league and a potential head coaching candidate in the future.
Another fascinating layer to the Flores possibility: Watson was believed to want a trade to Miami to play for Flores. Is there a chance they could join up in Houston? If so, it would be another strange twist in this multi-tiered plot.