Logic. Strategy. Chemistry. Qualifications. Intelligence. Experience.
These are all things a pro football franchise should take into account prior to hiring a new head coach. Unless said franchise is the Houston Texans. Then just throw all those things out the window and go with whomever makes you feel good. Not exactly a solid game plan, but it is what it is at this point.
After firing David Culley, who was not really the problem or the answer, the Texans are once again in a hiring cycle and standing at the precipice of compounding bad decisions with worse ones. Early on, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and current New England Patriots linebacker coach Jerod Mayo were deemed the front-runners for the job.
Then, Houston interviewed Hines Ward of all people, a former wide receiving great who isn’t currently coaching for any NFL team.
/insert head scratching here
Then came a handful of more logical options, like Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon (no relation to former NFL MVP Rich Gannon) and Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi (who is related to former coaching great Vince Lombardi).
Then, just to show the world they were still the Texans, Houston’s brass interviewed former career backup quarterback Josh McCown. This isn’t much of a surprise, since they interviewed McCown last season and deemed him not as good as David Culley - which says a lot about McCown’s coaching potential. Maybe.
I mean, he took that interview last year, and then prepared to become an NFL head coach by…not coaching in the NFL for the next year.— Seth C. Payne (@SethCPayne) January 21, 2022
It’s easy to dismiss this as either A) Jack Easterby doing his bestie a solid by getting him a second interview in the hopes that intrigues another team enough to give McCown a shot or B) something no sane general manager or owner would do, so it’s merely an aberration. Unfortunately, it seems like Houston’s general manager, Nick Caserio, is the ‘straight man’ in a front office Monty Python skit bereft of laughs or common sense.
Over at Sports Illustrated, Conor Orr seems fairly convinced McCown is going to get the nod and Houston will make its second straight head coaching hire from a pool of people with ZERO head coaching experience.
I can say that Josh McCown has been on my future head coaches list prior to this season. I can say that I once profiled McCown as the consummate backup quarterback when he was working behind Sam Darnold during Darnold’s rookie year. I can also say that, according to one person familiar with the Jets’ setup that year, McCown kept Darnold from getting destroyed by a very poorly designed offense. He was kind of, in a way, a member of the coaching staff that year, translating different aspects of the offense and, sometimes, pointing out irregularities in the scheme, play design or audible call list that would have seriously impeded Darnold’s ability to execute. While McCown’s career was winding down, the idea that he would quickly vault to a high-ranking NFL coaching position existed out there.
Now, on the surface this is actually sound logic. But, let’s refer back to Seth Payne’s tweet above:
I mean, he took that interview last year, and then prepared to become an NFL head coach by… not coaching in the NFL for the next year.
Feel free to take a moment and finish scratching your head (again) before we move along.
With the rumors that several of Houston’s current coaches are here to stay, you can almost cross Lombardi, Gannon, and Flores off the list of candidates. No qualified head coach is going to happily step into a team knowing he has no say over the defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, or two key offensive coaching positions. If this is true, any sought-after candidate is likely to view Houston’s offer as a set up for failure - if they didn’t already (see Jack Easterby).
Why would a team leave existing coaches in place after the team was literally the WORST IN THE LEAGUE in several key areas last season? Possibly so that an incoming rookie head coach with no experience whatsoever assembling a staff wouldn’t have to make hires. Cue the Mayo and McCown walk up music.
All that said, this would be a tough one to sell. The Texans let go of David Culley, one of the few black head coaches in the NFL, after he coached one of the worst rosters in the NFL to four wins. They did this, theoretically, to clear the deck for McCown. They did not have McCown coach the team last year, because he would have been pummeled by Deshaun Watson questions and wilted under the weight of public perception.
He still might. The Culley firing should have freaked some people out around the NFL. It will probably scare prospective assistants, veteran coaches that the Texans would like to surround McCown with. Given how much Houston would have at stake in legitimizing McCown early, the likelihood that they would quickly dismiss “underperforming” assistants and use them as scapegoats is high.
We all saw the writing on the wall after Culley was hired: He was a patsy, a scapegoat for dysfunction, and thankfully, a man who got paid $22 million to attend the NRG Parkway Clown College for a year.
Now, if McCown IS Jack Easterby’s BFF, as it’s been widely reported, we all know the same fate will not befall him. Well, except Jack giving Josh a wheelbarrow of the McNair fortune. Abandon hope, all ye assistants who enter here.
Since Easterby has proven that you don’t need any experience whatsoever to hold down a high level NFL job, it’s easy to see why he firmly believes McCown should do the same.
[Josh McCown has] never coached aside from a brief period as a volunteer assistant on his son’s high school team.
What are we fans to do? Stand around on the deck while we watch the captain drill holes in the boat’s hull?
One thing is for sure. Like Culley, McCown won’t be the answer to rapidly declining fan numbers. Chances are, it will only increase the number of fans hopping onto the Sell the Team life raft.
What we can hope is that Caserio’s common sense prevails, that he hires someone like Lombardi or Gannon, Eric Bieniemy, DeMeco Ryans, or Kevin O’Connell, lets them choose their staff, and one of those men decides to hire McCown as an offensive assistant. If Josh is that good, let him prove it by developing Davis Mills from a third-round question mark into a bona fide NFL starting quarterback.
Then, and only then, should a team seriously consider hiring Josh McCown as its head coach.