This is normally the time of year when football writing people and their talking head counterparts start speculating about which NFL coaches are in danger of getting fired.
Not sure who came up with the term “hot seat” for this particular scenario, but it’s just as much of an NFL glossary term as “A-Gap” and “Bill O’Brien Sucks As A General Manager”...well, maybe not that second part. Maybe that's just in H-Town.
Patrick Walker at CBS Sports put out his list of NFL coaches whose backsides are burning right about now. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that our beloved, bungling, sitcom-esque head coach, David Culley, tops that list. (Culley really is the Barney Fife of head coaches, isn’t he?)
1. David Culley, Texans
When you’re finding ways to be worse than the Jaguars, you’ve got to start cleaning house ... again.
The Texans have now lost eight in a row, and they show zero signs of life. They’ve been thumped by nearly every team they’ve come up against, and while they hoped the return of Taylor from injured reserve would help, they were wrong — the Dolphins sending them home with another messy loss.
This is another lost season in Houston, and the only question now is how bad will it truly get under a first-time head coach who is in way over his head here. Oh, and up next are the Tennessee Titans in Week 11.
Good luck with that.
That brings us to the question proposed to the BRB Masthead:
In normal situations, a new coach who goes 1-8 is the latest soon-to-be-ex-coach of that franchise. But considering Culley was likely brought in as a placeholder while the team was “undergoing remodeling,” is he really in danger of being fired mid-season?
Two weeks ago, my answer would have been a firm no. Now? Phew, that’s a tough call.
First, a quick reminder that Culley is a patsy, and he is serving his role very well. Perhaps, at this point, a little too well. Culley wasn’t hired because of his football experience, so what we are seeing as far as his poor clock management, etc., shouldn’t be a surprise. And, let’s be honest, it isn’t that much worse than Bill O’Brien’s in-game management.
What really is Culley’s fault, though? You could have Vince Lombardi as the head coach, Andy Reid as the offensive coordinator, and Bum Phillips as the defensive coordinator, and this team still doesn’t win more than four (4) games. The talent is AA level, and that’s the biggest problem of all.
Who would want this job, anyway? You’re a sacrificial lamb for an Easterby in sheep’s clothing.
David Culley on the Hot Seat? Setting aside the fact that sites like cbssports.com can trend towards click-bait-like headlines (they employ Jason La Canfora), this may not be as far-fetched as previously thought. No one intends to make a NFL head coaching hire to only fire said hire within 1 year. However, if a NFL team is playing excessively bad, then such moves could be warranted. The 2021 Texans did not strike anyone as a team that would be all that good, and some could argue they exceeded expectations when they won the season opener against Jacksonville. Factor the 1st half of the next game, when the Texans went blow-for-blow with the contending Cleveland Browns, and you might think that the Texans might be a team that might now win a lot of games, but one that sacred the hell out of other squads, proving themselves that team that nobody really wanted to play.
Yet, since that 1st half 14-14 tie against Cleveland, the Texans have devolved into the team that many thought they would be. The team has the worst offense in the NFL by scoring and the defense, while exceeding last year’s total in takeaways, is hardly that much better. Worse, the team, laden with veteran players, leads the league in penalties. That does not reflect well on the talent, and it especially does not reflect well on the coaching. How disciplined is this team? Not very, which coupled with a deficit in talent, equates to a historically bad team.
There is a high probability that the Texans will not win another game the rest of the season. This team is showing itself among the worst teams in history on the road. The Texans do host the Jets, so there is a chance for a win, but it is hardly a slam-dunk proposition. Teams that have 16-game in-season losing streaks since the advent of the 16-game schedule (1978) do not tend to keep their head coaches (see the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns).
Would the Texans, should they suffer a 16-game losing streak in a 17-game season in 2021, keep Culley? I am not so sure. If there was a coaching prospect that the Texans’ brain trust really lusted for (cough, cough, Josh McDaniels, cough, cough), and the 2021 Texans finish 1-16, then it is more than idle speculation that Culley only lasts one season. Maybe Culley is the next Steve Wills, sacked after only one season to make way for a prospect like Kliff Kingsbury. I don’t know. Not that I have a lot of faith in the McEasterby regime making the right call on coaches at this time. However, given how the team has played since Week 2, a new coach for 2022 is not out of the question. Culley may actually be coaching for his job in the second half of the season. If that is the case, I don’t like his chances.
Matt “Double Asbestos Underwear” Weston:
I didn’t think there was a chance David Culley would be fired this season. He was here for fruit slices and pizza buffets. He was a beautiful soul to keep morale high during a terrible season and keep spirits bright while Deshaun Watson floated through the halls and haunted these walls. Here for the culture, keeping things cheery, until the talent is in place for a real coach to come in and take over.
The problem is the problems have been so elementary. The stupid field goals, declining penalties just to punt, unprepared game plans, banal schemes, poor timeouts, all while chewing his tongue like he’s in some 1915 European trench. At 1-8, without any tangible improvement, and how dumb it’s all been, Culley’s firing should be in play. Personally, I would fire him, but I think the Texans keep him around for another year. The question is whether they can actually find anyone who wants to coach this team. Hey, like Culley once said, there are only 32 of these things.
Rivers “of FI’YARR” McCown:
I don’t really care about the answer to this question as long as we get a David Culley movie podcast.
Uprooted “And Extinguished” Texan:
I’m going to say he’s sticking around, at least to the end of the year, if not longer.
Here’s the thing. This team is 1-8 with one of the worst offenses I’ve ever seen, including 2002.
But let’s say he’s fired midseason, why? What possible benefit would that give the Texans? To give the team a head start on looking for a new coach? Do you remember what happened last year when they fired Bill O’Brien midseason? That’s how we got David Culley. Is David Culley the one thing that is keeping this team from winning eight straight and narrowing missing the playoffs? At best, at absolute best, this team is a long term reclamation project being run by a pair of numbskulls who think the end zone is a layer of Earth’s atmosphere that blocks out UV light. They handpicked David Culley despite all the obvious signs that he was leaps and bounds out of his depth.
This team is not going to be better if Culley were suddenly no longer a part of it, and that assumes that either Cal McNair or Jack Easterby even care that he’s making rudimentary dumb mistakes. Would his firing bring fans back into the stands? Would his firing end the rudimentary mistakes and sloppy discipline? Probably, but to what end?
David Culley was not brought in here to win football games, he was brought in to keep morale tepid in the locker room. And he’s doing...okay, I guess, at that. Anything beyond that is gravy for EasterNair. And I say this as someone who likes David Culley. Not as a head coach, good lord no, but as someone for me to aspire to become when I get to be his age. He seems very pleasant and I’ll be sad for him when he’s fired because none of what he signed on for is his fault. The dumb mistakes and the fundamental misunderstanding of football is his fault but hey, nobody’s perfect.
I say he stays until the end of the year. I would not put it past Wingus and Dingus to give him a second year even if he goes 1-16 this season. But I absolutely don’t think he gets canned until after week 17 at the earliest.
Watch me write this and he’ll get fired on Thursday.
Mike “Scorched Earth” Bullock:
Has David Culley done a good job as a guy with decades of experience taking his first shot at being a head coach? Of course not. Did anyone expect him to? Of course not. Should he be judged the same way other head coaches are judged? Of course not.
As BFD said, Culley was a smiling fall guy, willingly taking the 10x pay increase to put his name on one of the worst NFL products to hit the field since the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There’s no way Culley was hired under the premise of “Super Bowl or Bust” and, if anything, this is a good end to the career of a career assistant who was never going to earn a real pension when he retires from the pro sports world soon.
Now, when this dumpster fire of a season finally burns out after Week 17, Houston can either opt to keep Culley around for another year while Caserio once again loads the roster with the player equivalents of Culley (read: older, nice. and non-noteworthy) to take another shot at the draft lottery in 2023 after finally moving on from Deshaun Watson, or they can blame Culley for the disaster Cal McNair, Jack Easterby, and Bill O’Brien created while pretending to move on with whomever they hire next to set fire to the hopes and dreams of Texans fans everywhere.
At this stage, Texans management will likely have to find another Culley-in-waiting. Good luck getting any high-potential coaching candidate to take this job.
Culley doesn’t deserve to be on the hot seat right now - but when he signed the contract, started cashing the checks, and pulled a Houston hoodie on over his aging beer belly, he knew what he was in for - a vacation from trying to succeed and a glorious pay increase most Americans will never see.
Good for you, Culley. Cash Cal’s checks and ride off into the sunset. You’ve earned it.
What do you think? Does Culley deserve to be fired? Or is he merely the symptom of the underlying disease?