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BRB GroupThink: David Culley’s Inferno

The masthead joins together and discusses Houston’s decision to hire David Culley.

Philadelphia Eagles 2006 Headshots

Last night the Houston Texans announced they were hiring David Culley to be the head coach. Tim Kelly will reportedly stay on as the offensive coordinator and Lovie Smith is likely the defensive coordinator. Following this decision, I asked the masthead the following question before Deshaun Watson’s trade request became official:

What’s your instant immediate reaction to the Culley hiring?

These are their answers:

MATT WESTON:

Everyone has nice things to say about David Culley. Everyone who has worked for him are happy he received the big job. He’s been in the NFL since 1994. You don’t work for that long without being well respected, well liked, and loved by others. And yes, the Ravens absolutely love him because his hiring gives them two third round picks because of the new minority candidate rules.

That being said, his track record recently getting tangible production is scant. He was the Chiefs’ assistant head coach from 2013 to 2016, back when Alex Smith could only throw swing and screen passes, and their wide receiver production was miserable. He was the Bills quarterback coach for a single season in 2017. Josh Allen was electricity, but his accuracy and decision making were ridiculous, and he’s improved tremendously since Culley moved on. Culley was also responsible for Nathan Peterman that season as well. The last two years he was the Ravens assistant head coach, wide receivers coach, and passing game coordinator, and during this time, the Ravens have had nearly zero wide receiver production, and their pass game was atrocious this season.

This isn’t the man who’s going to create an offense to mold around a franchise quarterback, or get the most out of a franchise quarterback. There’s a reason why he’s been in the league since 1994 and was never seriously considered for the head coaching role. It’s because he was never a great candidate. What he is though, is a man who loves his family, belongs to the faith that is the focal point of Jack Easterby and the culture he’s created, is someone who will play the role as CEO, and allows Easterby to remain in the spot he’s in. He’s an extension of faith and football. He isn’t a viable head coach candidate.

It’s absolutely embarrassing the way the Texans have handled this search. Missing out on the top offensive minds. Failing to listen to their franchise quarterback. Bringing back Nick Caserio. Hiring Culley before notifying Watson, because the two sides haven’t talked in weeks, and just hoped and prayed he would like the singing. It’s a ridiculous hire. It doesn’t make any sense.

This is all true before Watson’s trade request was announced this morning. Even if Culley is able to get him to stay, he still wasn’t the most qualified candidate, or the best one to build the Texans around. Culley is what happens when no one wants the job.

From the botched Nick Caserio hire in the summer of 2018 to today, the Houston Texans are a complete a total failure, and an absolute embarrassment. Everything since has just been an extension of this.

RIVERS McCOWN:

No.

CAPT. RON:

Easterby and the idiot McNairs are trying to create a mega church NFL franchise to outpace Olsteen.

This franchise is the AMC Pacer of NFL teams. A complete disgrace and should suffer severe backlash from fans. Watson needs to vault himself out ASAP!

Five years from now we’ll be revisiting the next general manager and head coach search. What a waste of time, money and emotional energy.

UPROOTED TEXAN:

The absolute floor of whether David Culley is a good hire is whether his hire is enough to keep Deshaun Watson happy enough to not demand a trade, and if he does, then keep him around in Houston. If it’s not, then it kind of doesn’t matter because I don’t know that Culley will have a chance to prove his worth because the Texans will not be good for a while. If Watson does stay, then I’m on the fence because I literally have no idea who he is but based on the praise he’s gotten, most of which involves his “culture fit” whatever the hell that is, I’m waiting to be impressed.

EDIT: With the Watson trade news, I’m officially changing my view to really disliking this hire.

KENNETH L.:

What frustrates me is that you see other franchises bringing in these young, dynamic offensive geniuses to be their head coach. They choose potential and vision over experience and consistency. Houston stuck with the Old Guard mentality. Familiar faces in the league with trusted knowledge. It shows you that management doesn’t want to dig their hands in the day to day of the organization and would rather trust that the team is being handled by veterans. Every move this year has been uninspired. Nothing seems to be what it should be. Could the Texans not wait two more weeks to get Eric Bienemy once the Super Bowl is over?

Simply, we hired a “coach”. Some of my friends will argue that is exactly what we need. A person who isn’t offensive or defensive-minded, but rather is a general football coach who will let the offensive coordinators do their job. That makes sense, until you realize every organization has an identity. Their identity usually matches that of the head coach. Take Detroit’s head coach selection this offseason, that man is someone that will attract players. Our head coach will attract the attention of AARP and Life Alert.

If we trade Deshaun Watson, nothing will matter. I fear that the new leaders will want a clean slate and will start at the QB position. All we ask is that Watson stays in Houston. Everyone else, including J.J. Watt, can see the door.

L4BLITZER:

At first glance, consider me underwhelmed. A 65 year old rookie head coach, who, while he has been assistant head coach, has not been so much as a coordinator at the pro level. Also, it is not like too many other people were beating this guy’s door down to talk with him about the position. While it is not always a bad thing when previous bosses praise a coach’s character and what he brings to a team’s culture, it is hard for the cynical Texans fan to not look at this hire as just another Easterby-inspired action. We’ve seen how all of those moves have worked out. Also, while Harbaugh seemed supportive, it is interesting that the initial takes from the Baltimore media we’re about the potential for draft picks due to the hire.

Of course, success or failure will come with on-field performance. Right now, given the state of the team, don’t expect a banner opening campaign. Will Culley get the chance to work with Watson or have a legit chance to see a rebuild progress without a quick hook? TBD (read: how long before Easterby tells Cal that God told him to hire a new coach).

I guess we will wait and see. It may work just fine. However, I don’t see this as a long term hire and I will be very, very surprised if Culley makes it to the end of the initial contract.

CARLOS FLORES:

I feel that everyone deserves a fair shake, but this isn’t who anyone wanted. Culley seemed like a random name that got mixed up into the hat, but here he is. The new head coach of the Houston Texans. He’s been around the league for a long time, and has connections to Andy Reid. However, it seems that he’s overseen some of the worst skill position groups over the last decade that we can remember. Kansas City wide receivers that didn’t score a touchdown. The Nathan Peterman experiment. The Ravens passing situation.

The stuff going around about him being a man of faith and the good guy M.O. is depressing, infuriating, and soul-killing to a large degree. It’s more of the same importance placed on character crap that we saw BOB emphasize.

I’m not saying that I want a guy who wants to eat kneecaps, or whatever. I wanted Eric Bienemy because he at least represents potential in a sexy package. David Culley is an unmarked box left at the steps of the Capitol building.

If Deshaun Watson didn’t have a say in this, we can kiss him goodbye.

TGC:

There was this dude once, by the name of Jim Zorn. He was applying to be offensive coordinator for the Washington NFL team. Only, Dan Snyder, the Dunning-Krueger of NFL owners*, thought he would be a great head coach, so he gave Zorn that job instead of the offensice coordinator position. He inherited a 9-7 team and promptly went 8-8 his first year and then 4-12 the next year, leading to his predictable defenestration by the crappy owner who never should have hired him in the first place.

Man. I remember laughing my ass off at that. A crappy owner hired an overmatched coach and then acted surprised when he didn’t get results.

Only now that something similar is happening to my team it’s not so funny and I am left once again to reflect on the fact that being rich doesn’t make you smart or competent. At least, when you’re hired by a guy like Snyder, you know you’re likely to get the chop in a couple of years if you don’t perform. Can anyone here say, given the franchise’s history of holding onto coaches well past when it was clearly obvious that they should be canned, that Culley isn’t going to be around for a long while, no matter how bad we suck?

I sincerely hope he’s good. I hope that Watson stays. I hope that, somehow, this franchise can be a team that goes deep into the playoffs instead of just being a paper tiger with one-and-done as its playoff ceiling. But if that happens, it will be in spite of the “brain” trust that is running this team, not because of it. And, frankly, I’m not optimistic either way.

*In hindsight, there is a lot of Dunning-Krueger among NFL owners.

MIKE BULLOCK:

When I covered the Oakland Raiders, no not Las Vegas, they were still in Oak-town, the name Bruce Arians came up a lot. Back then, the Raiders changed head coaches like Brian Cushing changed cleats and Al Davis was very high on Arians; more than once Davis was quoted as saying Arians was a championship coach. He wasn’t a well known name around the league and the sparse times he was mentioned in head coaching searches by other teams, he was always passed over for a hot, trendy, younger name and/or the latest rising NCAA head coach.

That same Bruce Arians who was always a bridesmaid in the pre-2013 searches, but almost never got national attention is now the first head coach in history to host a super bowl in his own stadium.

I want to believe David Culley is the next Bruce Arians. Both spent years circulating in the shadows of NFL coaching circles, both have worked with hall of fame players and both have worked magic with great quarterbacks.

Now that Culley is out of the shadows and standing center stage, IF the Deshaun Watson relationship is repaired, we should expect great things.

Sure this offseason has seen far too much off-field drama, and sure Jack Easterby still needs a good firing, but Nick Caserio is a pretty solid GM candidate and Culley should make a pretty great head coach.

According to John McClain, Caserio will have final say on the roster, but Culley will have final say on the coaching staff and gameday roster:

All we have to go on is what Culley has done in Baltimore, and looking at Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense, it seems logical to expect great strides from the new Houston Texans offense. Especially if Tim Kelly and Deshaun Watson can continue what they did in 2019 and Culley can bring in a real offensive line coach to whip the O-line into shape.

There’s also a rumor that Lovie Smith *might* be the next defensive coordinator. While Smith didn’t do so well as a head coach, he was a pretty good DC. Maybe if Romeo Crennel sticks around in an advisory/assistant HC role, he and Smith can give Watson, Culley and Kelly the defense this team needs and Houston can return to the top of the AFC South quickly on their way to super bowl glory.

VEGA:

I’m at the point where the only option is to truly hit rock bottom. We need to go 0-16 with a -30 point differential per game. Hell, we need all other players to strike or quit such that the team can’t even field a roster next year. It needs to be the most epic and embarrassing display of NFL football of all time. Crawling up from this mess is impossible. The only way out is to keep going down.

I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise

DIEHARD CHRIS:

My instant reaction is that I’ll wait for the official word that Deshaun wants to be traded, then I’ll wait to see how that hits me before the reactionary turning-in of my fandom. Now news comes down he has officially requested a trade, but it was “weeks ago”. So I shift my thinking to - if Culley can get Deshaun back in the fold, I’ll begrudgingly be dragged back to my Texans fandom. If he can’t, then for the first time in my entire life supporting all the Houston teams, I’m going to think long and hard about walking away. Because what CAN this team do right if they can’t hold on to a young, potentially generational QB who is also a good citizen?

If anything, what this tells us is that if Cal McNair won’t prioritize keeping Watson over this “culture” and over his spiritual advisor Jack Easterby, then he’s going to continue to make bad decisions year after year. But it STARTS with this decision, which is the worst possible one I could think of—so why stick around? If Deshaun Watson isn’t on board with your football culture, then your football culture doesn’t work for me either. I’m not saying I will definitely walk away, but right now that’s what I want to do. I just need to see how this Watson thing plays out.