With the 2020 NFL season all but lost for the Houston Texans, it’s finally time to officially turn the page and start looking at the 2021 campaign. Sure, you might think this is a tiny bit premature; with Houston sitting at 4-7, they could win out and end up at 9-7. With the extra playoff spot available this season, Houston isn’t quite mathematically eliminated just yet. But for them to get into the postseason, several of the 10 teams with a better record in the AFC would have to stumble pretty hard. Not to mention, no one wants to see the 2020 Texans face the Pittsburgh Steelers or Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL Playoffs this year. 2020 has bad enough. With that in mind, we can embrace the Texans’ fan motto:
Houston Texans Fans: Waiting for next season since 2002.
When the time does come to (hopefully) see the Texans’ new general manager hire a new head coach (please don’t let anyone in the current front office have any say in either of these hires), they’re going to have to consider whether they want an offensive-minded head coach or a defensive-minded one. With an offensive head coach, bringing in someone who understands how to mold the offense around the amazing intangibles that Deshaun Watson brings to the table is a must. Having another head coach who wants to force Watson to play in a system that doesn’t play to Deshaun’s strengths is lunacy. A defensive-minded head coach might do wonders for the team, if he can bring in a solid offensive coordinator who can make the most of DW4’s remaining youth. So let’s break down a few candidates in each category.
Eric Bieniemy Could Be The Texans’ Next Head Coach.
The former running back turned running back coach (widely considered responsible for maximizing the talent of Adrian Peterson when he was a Minnesota Viking) turned Kansas City Chief’s offensive coordinator, Bieniemy will see his name in every off-season head coaching search this year.
Why he makes sense: Bieniemy has done wonders with Patrick Mahomes, and he could do the same, if not more, with Deshaun Watson. All too often, crazy talented NCAA quarterbacks hit the NFL and see their careers flounder in large part due to poor scheme fit. Either the offensive coordinator/head coach combo try to force the player into their brand of football, or the team’s culture stinks, or they don’t surround the player with enough quality teammates to excel. Bieniemy would (most likely) play to Watson’s strengths while maximizing the opportunities for DW4 to make highlight reel plays.
Why it makes sense for Bieniemy: Of all the current head coaching openings, only the Houston Texans offer a superstar franchise quarterback ready to lead the team into the future. Hitching his wagon to Watson would ensure Bieniemy not only had success in his first head coach gig, but it would link his name forever to not just Adrian Peterson and Patrick Mahomes, but Deshaun Watson as well—three future Hall of Fame players.
Josh McDaniels Could Be The Texans’ Next Head Coach.
With owner Cal McNair’s unabashed love for the New England Patriots clearly on display, a very short-sighted but anticipated move the Texans could make is to bring in general manager Nick Caserio, who would presumably bring Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels along as the new head coach.
Why he makes sense: McNair and Jack Easterby clearly have a love affair with “The Patriot Way.” Cal has yet to show the big picture, “leaders see further, faster” mindset to stray very far from that box. The Houston Texans’ box resides right outside the front door of Gillette Stadium.
Why it makes sense for McDaniels: While the rumor is McDaniel is the heir apparent to Bill Belichick, that has hit a major stumbling block post-Tom Brady. If McDaniels thought he could raise the Texans from the ashes of former rival Bill O’Brien’s litter box of management decisions, it might quickly erase the question mark on his his former tenure as a head coach with the Broncos. Having Deshaun Watson would certainly provide much more appeal than Tim Tebow.
Now, on to the defensive-minded candidates.
Teryl Austin Could Be The Texans’ Next Head Coach.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, long known as a defensive powerhouse, earning monikers like “The Steel Curtain” and “Blitzburgh,” saw their defensive dominance wane in recent years - that is, until Austin arrived. The Steelers are currently 10-0 for the first time in team history and that largely comes from the defensive side of things. T.J. Watt is a legit NFL MVP candidate right now and the Steelers’ D is ranked 3rd in the league, giving up over 100 yards less per game than the current Houston Texans.
Why he makes sense: Austin could bring in a bright, young offensive coordinator to maximize the Deshaun Watson era while he and the new general manager reload the defense, perhaps even luring T.J. Watt to Houston to play with his big brother, J.J. Watt. The younger Watt is entering his fifth year in 2021. The Steelers are staring down the barrel of the largest defensive player contract they’ve ever handed out, which may or may not make sense for them if they win yet another Super Bowl this year. While Houston doesn’t have a lot to bargain with, a savvy horse-trader could make that deal work if the Steelers have any interest at all in dealing T.J..
Why it makes sense for Austin: Currently working in the shadow of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Austin would have the chance to revitalize the worst defense in the league, ride the coattails of one of the best quarterbacks in the modern era, and avoid living through a potential post-Lombardi Trophy gutting/rebuilding the Steelers may face with a $19 million deficit to work with in 2021, according to OverTheCap.
Matt Eberflus Could Be The Texans’ Next Head Coach.
Stealing a rising star coach from a division rival is always a win for just about any organization. Doing it to the Indianapolis Colts who are trying to reassert their dominance of the AFC South, would be all the sweeter.
Why he makes sense: Eberflus took over one of the worst defenses in the NFL and promptly turned them into a top ten unit with very little talent on that side of the ball. The Texans currently have the worst defense in the NFL with very little talent on that side of the ball. If Eberflus could bring in a solid offensive coordinator (or if Tim Kelly can unlearn all the Bill O’Brien garbage and lean into Deshaun Watson more), he could get the defense back on track, allowing Deshaun Watson to play with a lead more often, which equals more wins.
Why it makes sense for Eberflus: Rarely does any head coach get the chance to make lightning strike twice. Taking two different teams from worst to top ten defensively would instantly cement Eberflus’ name in the ‘great modern day coaches’ conversation. With a bevy of young players on the defensive roster and wily vets like J.J. Watt and Justin Reid, Eberflus could reshape the Houston defense into one that strikes terror in opposing offenses, like it did not too long ago. Then, all Eberlus has to do is ride Watson’s SportsCenter highlights to the promised land.
Four possible head coaching candidates who could turn the Texans around quickly. Time to put on your Emperor of the Universe hat and let us know who you would put in the driver’s seat to move this team back into Super Bowl contention. Give us your pick and reasons why in the comment box.