Report: Texans hire Ravens AHC and WR coach David Culley as next head coach

Jack Baer
·4-min read

The Houston Texans have already replaced Bill O’Brien the general manager. They now have their replacement for Bill O’Brien the head coach.

The Texans are hiring David Culley, the Baltimore Ravens’ associated head coach, passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Culley arrives in Houston after the hiring of former New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio as the team’s general manager, with both spots made vacant via the firing of O’Brien in October after an 0-4 start this season.

The apparent runners-up for the job were Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, both of whom reportedly received second interviews with Houston. While Texans executive Jack Easterby was involved in the interviews, Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reports Caserio made the decision to hire Culley.

Culley will become the first and only Black person hired in this offseason’s head coach cycle, and the second coach of color behind Robert Saleh of the New York Jets.

Texans offensive coordinator coach Tim Kelly is being retained as offensive coordinator, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Texans are also reportedly targeting former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and current Texans quarterback Josh McCown for their coaching staff.

After two seasons working under John Harbaugh, Culley and Caserio will now be tasked with resurrecting a team that seemed to fall apart under O’Brien’s leadership over the last year, with a quarterback in Deshaun Watson still reportedly looking for a way out.

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 22, 2019: Assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers coach David Culley talks with quarterback Robert Griffin III #3 prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns on December 22, 2019 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore won 31-15. (Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
The Texans made an unusual choice with David Culley. (Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

What are the Texans getting in David Culley?

Culley will reportedly get his first head coaching job after 27 years of experience as an NFL assistant coach with six different organizations.

A member of the Andy Reid coaching tree, Culley worked under the current Kansas City Chiefs head coach for 17 years with the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as under former Reid assistants John Harbaugh and Sean McDermott. He also worked as a wide receivers coach under Bill Cowher with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Culley’s age makes him an unusual hire, as the 65-year-old will be the oldest first-time head coach in NFL history, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. He is already set to become the fourth-oldest head coach in the league behind Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick and Bruce Arians.

Culley’s responsibilities didn’t exactly line up with the Ravens’ strengths either, as the team’s passing game posted an NFL-worst 2,919 passing yards with 1,729 of those coming via wide receivers. No other NFL team had fewer than 2,000 from wide receivers, per ESPN. Culley was also the Chiefs’ wide receivers coach in 2014, notable for being the year not a single Chiefs wide receiver recorded a touchdown.

Of course, individual unit production and coordinator experience isn’t entirely predictive of an assistant’s success as a head coach, and Culley’s reviews as a manager have been glowing. Harbaugh spoke highly of Culley’s skills as a motivator and his experience with winning organizations:

However the hire works out, the Ravens are set to profit from the hire alone, as the NFL’s new rules to incentivize the development of minority coaching candidates will give the team an extra third-round pick in the 2021 and 2022 NFL drafts.

For now, the success of Culley’s tenure as a head coach will likely come down to one question in the short term.

What will Deshaun Watson think?

It’s unclear if Watson has any thoughts on Culley. We already know Watson wanted the Texans to interview Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Saleh. Bieniemy got a late interview, only after Watson aired his grievances with management, while Saleh got the Jets’ job.

It’s hard to see a head coach hire placating Watson when his concerns reportedly went well beyond the team’s hiring practices, but you’d imagine one of Culley’s first tasks will be to give the quarterback a call. Robinson reports Culley’s advocates believe he is a strong enough culture creator that he should reach Watson’s ears if they’re open.

If Watson supports Culley, the Texans have a clear path forward under Culley. If he still wants out, Culley’s hire likely won’t be the team’s last major move this offseason.

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