Maybe it’s my love of history, but I’ve always enjoyed the term “patsy.” Lee Harvey Oswald famously called himself a patsy when he was arrested, denying he had assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
Just to have a little fun with the literal meaning of patsy, it’s this from Oxford Languages:
a person who is easily taken advantage of, especially by being cheated or blamed for something.
I think that defines David Culley pretty darn well. Let’s explore why.
First, Culley was never qualified to become the head coach of an NFL team. He had never even coordinated at the professional level, and the last time he was a coordinator was way back in 1990 for the University of Texas at El Paso, where he did it for two seasons. Since then, he has been only a position coach or assistant head coach. That’s it. There is literally no reason to believe Culley was brought here for his football mind, and there were plenty of other options out there who had both better experience and more impressive track records, like Eric Bieniemy.
His inexperience has been striking, whether it’s the understanding most basic aspects of clock management, or ricocheting between going for it and not on 4th downs, to just not seeming to understand core concepts in the game. Surrender-licious!
HOU decided to punt to IND from the HOU 45 on 4th & 2 with 8:53 remaining in the 3rd while losing 3 to 17.— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) October 17, 2021
With a Surrender Index of 4.06, this punt ranks at the 84th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2021 season, and the 81st percentile of all punts since 1999.
It was even worse earlier in the Colts game:
HOU decided to punt to IND from the IND 39 on 4th & 9 with 14:55 remaining in the 2nd while losing 0 to 7.— Surrender Index 90 (@surrender_idx90) October 17, 2021
With a Surrender Index of 30.83, this punt ranks at the 99.2nd percentile of cowardly punts of the 2021 season, and the 98th percentile of all punts since 1999.
So why was David Culley hired and not somebody else? Surely, he was definitely the best head coaching candidate available, many people convinced themselves.
The reality is this: Culley was hired because of his upbeat personality. Culley was hired to cut the oranges at halftime, to give inspirational speeches, to help with owies, and to get pizza. Ultimately, he was hired to take the blame for the disasters that will be the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Nick Caserio knows this. Caserio isn’t stupid.
Caserio has set himself up to be blameless for at least the next three seasons, if not more. It was Bill O’Brien’s fault. It was Deshaun Watson’s fault. It was David Culley’s fault. And he, Nick Caserio, is the only one with the wisdom to implement the Patriot Way with the Texans.
Failson Cal McNair, of course, is stupid enough to fall for it. If BOB was able to get away with murder for years after it was clear he was grossly incompetent, Caserio should have no problem milking at least five years of Cal’s pocketbook. if you’re Spencer Tillman, you already believe Caserio is one of the best General Managers in football history because EBITDA.
Caserio is setting Culley up to fail. Perhaps Culley realizes this. Perhaps not. Caserio shuffled the deck chairs on the Titanic during the offseason, signing lots of random players and making random trades, all under the guise of making it look like he was improving the team through competition. This did not improve the team. It was all smoke and mirrors, not real action. It was a ruse, if you will.
All of this will leave Culley holding the bag. Culley is a patsy.
I don’t think anything happens to the Texans’ coaching staff this year. Tim Kelly hasn’t been bad, though he still doesn’t know how to improve Houston’s offensive line play. That Lovie Smith’s defense has been a massive bust shouldn’t surprise a single person, although I know a lot of people had their hopes up after the first game.
David Culley? He ain’t going anywhere. He has a roll to fulfill to meet Caserio’s ends.
Plus, what coaches would want to even join this deeply unserious franchise? The roster is pathetic. The front office is run like a cult. Culley may be a means to an end, but there’s a solid chance he was the only person willing to take the Texans’ head coaching job in the first place.
Don’t expect anything significant as far as coaching changes until after 2022, no matter how badly things look. And, woof, things look bad.