It would appear Nick Caserio’s evaluation of David Culley has been completed. For some reason, the Texans needed more time to evaluate Culley’s job status, despite having eighteen weeks to do so. This reality lends itself to Caserio calling around, scoping out the head coaching market, and probably having a name, or a few names, in mind to hand the car keys to.
Thus, after a single season in charge, David Culley has been relieved of his duties as head coach of your Houston Texans.
Texans have fired coach David Culley, according to a league source, following a 4-13 season— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) January 13, 2022
Whether this is deserved or not is another matter. Culley’s Texans were objectively horrendous in 2021 and Culley certainly looked over his skis as a head coach at various times, but we should not ignore how dreadful the talent on the roster was. In other words, I don’t think many coaches could have coaxed more than four wins out of this squad.
That said, this change was not unexpected. Culley wasn’t fired for his win-loss record. He was presumably fired because the low bar for success this season in the minds of the people running the organization wasn’t met.
While Culley’s dismissal wasn’t a shock, Adam Schefter’s report that Culley’s five-year contract only featured two years of guaranteed money certainly was.
When the Texans hired David Culley, they only guaranteed him two years of money; they knew there always was the real chance he would be one and done. As one league source texted about his one-year tenure, “I knew it when he was hired.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 13, 2022
So instead of getting something in the neighborhood of another $12,000,000.00 to $14,000,000.00 for his services in Houston, Culley will only receive another $4,000,000.00, according to Aaron Wilson.
David Culley, fired by Texans today, has one year remaining guaranteed on his contract, a $4 million figure, that's the lowest in the NFL, according to a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) January 13, 2022
Perhaps someone can correct me, but I don’t recall ever hearing of another NFL coaching contract being structured like that. It also confirms what many Texans fans thought when Culley was hired less than a year ago— Culley was always little more than a placeholder, a morale-booster, a good guy who would say the right things as the product on the field remained difficult to stomach.
When the Texans hired David Culley, they wanted a run-through-a-brick-wall head coach, not a Xs and Os head coach. They got exactly that. Culley, mouth stuffed with Double Bubble, loved his players, loved his job, and kept spirits high. The players worked hard in a lost and stagnant season.
Culley couldn’t make the simplest in-game decisions, though. Like when to punt, when to go for it, or when to kick field goals. He even turned down a penalty to punt against the Browns in Week Two. The Texans’ offensive scheme was categorized by Tim Kelly running into heavy boxes, throwing screens to nowhere, and required desperation to open up. On the other side of the ball, Lovie Smith’s Cover Two defense struggled before adjusting and eventually slowing down opposing offenses to some degree.
David Culley loves nachos and horror movies. Losing record aside, some Texans fans love David Culley. They’ll miss his smile, the way he would grab players’ heads and yell, his constant gum chewing, and his general demeanor. It was clear he doesn’t have what it takes to be a NFL head coach. As Culley reminded us when he was hired, there are only 32 of these jobs, and he was fortunate to get the chance to have one of them, if only for a short time.
Today, David Culley’s watch ended. All the best to him, either as he looks to continue his coaching career or as he shifts into retirement.
Much more to come. In the meantime, the Comments are open for your reaction.
UPDATE: The Texans also fired offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.
Texans have fired offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, according to a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) January 13, 2022
UPDATE II: There are now conflicting reports as to how many years and how much money Culley had left on his contract with the Texans.
The #Texans owe David Culley another $17 million over the next three years, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 13, 2022
So Culley walks away with roughly $22 million for one season as Houston's head coach.