David Culley

New Texans HC David Culley Speaks On Deshaun Watson

New Texans head coach David Culley has finally spoken on the Deshaun Watson saga, and he didn’t exactly clear things up. In a press conference with the general media, Culley was insistent that the team was all in on Watson.

We are very committed to Deshaun [Watson] as our quarterback. He is our quarterback,” Culley said, via this tweet from Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Culley also deferred questions about Watson asking for a trade to GM Nick Caserio, who wasn’t there. “It’s not a matter of me trying to change anyone’s mind. We’re committed to him. He’s a Houston Texan and we’re going to move forward with that,” Culley said when asked if Watson could be talked out of his trade request, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Culley added that “there is no contingency plan” for if Watson decides not to report. He also said “yes, he is,” when asked if Watson is committed to the Texans, which would seem to be demonstrably false. What makes these comments interesting, is that they’re in sharp contrast to what Culley told Jim Trotter of NFL Network just hours earlier.

Trotter tweeted that he walked away from his conversation with Culley “firmly” believing that Watson will be traded. Culley told Trotter that “he is our starting quarterback right now. He is our starting quarterback. Things happen between now and then. We’ll see what happens.” When he spoke on that more free-wheeling podcast, Culley gave the quarterback kiss of death of ‘right now.’

Culley also told Trotter that “we want guys who are all in.” Reading the tea leaves there it certainly sounds like Culley knows there’s a very good chance Watson is dealt before the 2021 season. It also sounds like somebody spoke with him between that podcast interview and his press conference and asked him to change his tone.

Anytime ‘right nows’ start getting thrown around, it’s seemingly the beginning of the end. This drama could still take many more twists and turns, but as Trotter himself noted, it now sounds like the writing is on the wall.

Deshaun Watson Meets With David Culley; Trade Request Remains

Deshaun Watson has met with his would-be new head coach. That summit does not look to have changed anything.

In the Friday meeting with David Culley, Watson informed the new Texans HC he does not plan to play for the team again, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This follows a report expressing that Watson is dug in on his desire to leave Houston.

Cal McNair and new Texans GM Nick Caserio have repeatedly insisted they are uninterested in trading Watson. But this situation is approaching the two-month mark, and suitors have emerged. More figure to surface soon, should the Texans make Watson available. The Dolphins, Jets, Broncos, Panthers and 49ers have been connected to the four-year veteran passer, who is not expected to be picky regarding his destination.

The Texans hired Culley after Watson’s discontent became public, creating a tough situation for the first-time head coach. The team has since cut future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt. As of now, the Texans do not have first- or second-round picks in this year’s draft — thanks to the 2019 Laremy Tunsil trade Culley predecessor Bill O’Brien made. The uncertainty surrounding Watson may also create issues for the Texans in free agency, further making Culley’s opening months as the team’s head coach challenging.

Coming to the Texans after a stay with the Ravens, Culley only received one interview during this year’s HC carousel. He did enough to land the Houston job. It seems he will not sway Watson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans GM: “Zero Interest” In Deshaun Watson Trade

Deshaun Watson wants out. The Texans won’t blink. On Friday, Texans GM Nick Caserio and new head coach David Culley reiterated their desire to keep the quarterback in Houston. 

[RELATED: Panthers To Pursue Watson]

Organizationally, we want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson,” said Caserio, pre-empting the slew of questions to come about Watson (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). “We have zero interest in trading the player..We have a great plan and vision for him. We look forward to spending more time with him.”

Caserio believes that “honest” and “forthright” communication can mend fences between the Texans and their star quarterback. Culley agreed as he backed up the GM with an even more confident declaration.

He is a Houston Texan. I want him to be a Houston Texan,” said Culley (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Field Yates). “The reason I’m in this position today is because I know he’s going to be a Houston Texan.”

Watson is interested in going to the Dolphins or the Jets with a slight preference towards the Jets…or the Dolphins, depending on who you ask. The Panthers have also jumped in, less than one year after signing Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63MM deal. The Jets and Dolphins could line up especially well for a trade, given their wealth of draft capital. And, with the Dolphins, the Texans could try for a Tua Tagovailoa trade.

But, despite all of the possibilities — and Watson’s strong desire to get out of town — the Texans say he’s staying put.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Officially Hire David Culley

It’s official. On Friday morning, the Texans formally announced the hiring of David Culley as their new head coach. 

[RELATED: Panthers To Pursue Watson Trade]

Throughout his entire coaching career, David has shown an ability to lead and bring people together,” said Texans CEO Cal McNair in a statement. “David brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team as somebody who has seen it all in this league. In his over 40 years of coaching, David has learned from many of the best coaches in the NFL while helping players navigate both the physical and mental side of the game. Highly regarded individuals from all over the league reached out to us throughout this process in support of David because of his unique ability to connect with those around him and his passion for the game and the relationships he creates.”

Culley spent the first 16 years of his coaching career in the college ranks before transitioning to the pros. In the NFL, the 65-year-old served as a key assistant for the Eagles, Chiefs, and Ravens. Beloved by Andy Reid and John Harbaugh, Culley came out of nowhere to win the Texans job. To some, that was a head-scratcher, but many around the league have applauded the Texans for their non-traditional hire. Of course, the list of believers includes new Houston GM Nick Caserio.

Heading into this process, it was imperative to find a head coach that our entire organization could rally behind and David is unquestionably that leader,” Caserio said. “David’s infectious energy, passion for the game and ability to command a room was clear from the start. As he shared his vision for how a head coach should lead a football team, it further solidified our belief in him.”

Now, the bad news: Deshaun Watson still wants out. Teams have already begun circling the wagons and the Panthers may be among the most “aggressive” suitors.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans To Hire David Culley

The Texans have their new head coach. Former Ravens assistant head coach David Culley has accepted Houston’s offer, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

[RELATED: Deshaun Watson Requests Trade]

For Culley, it’s the high point of an incredible run up the coaching ladder. The 65-year-old started his coaching career at FCS school Austin Peay all the way back in 1978. He’s been a respected football mind ever since, though he’s never served as a coordinator at the pro level. He served under Andy Reid for 18 years — following him from the Eagles to the Chiefs — before making his way to Baltimore. He’s been a trusted lieutenant of John Harbaugh, and his endorsement helped him win the job.

Unfortunately, it seems that he will not get the opportunity to patch things up with Deshaun Watson. Watson — who was a big proponent of 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh — wants out. Reportedly, he’s not even interested in chatting about it with the new Texans head coach.

The Texans’ bypassed Saleh, but they considered a number of big names, as shown in PFR’s 2021 Head Coaching Search Tracker:

  • Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator:
  • Joe Brady, Panthers offensive coordinator
  • Jim Caldwell, former Colts and Lions head coach
  • Matt Eberflus, Colts defensive coordinator
  • Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern head coach: Rumored candidate
  • Leslie Frazier, Bills defensive coordinator:
  • Josh McCown, Texans quarterback
  • Arthur Smith, Titans offensive coordinator, hired by the Falcons
  • Brandon Staley, Rams defensive coordinator, hired by the Chargers

Ultimately, Culley came away with the job. And, no matter what happens with Watson, it sounds as though he’ll have offensive coordinator Tim Kelly on board. The OC has drawn interest from other teams, but the Texans are still blocking requests for him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Interview Leslie Frazier, David Culley

WEDNESDAY: Frazier’s second interview took place Tuesday, according to veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson (on Twitter). Culley met with Texans brass Wednesday morning but was called back to continue his second interview later this afternoon, per Anderson and the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (Twitter links). This has become a “neck and neck” race, according to the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain.

While Eric Bieniemy has been in this process for a bit now, the Texans cannot bring him back for an interview until after Super Bowl LV. The Texans were seeking a second Bieniemy meeting but may well have a coach by the time he would be permitted to interview again.

MONDAY: The Texans have arranged second interviews with Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Ravens assistant head coach David Culley as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Both are now eligible to interview for the Texans’ top job in person since their teams are out of the playoffs. 

Frazier served as the Vikings’ head coach for three-seasons-and-change, up until his dismissal in 2013. His 2012 team made the playoffs before falling to the Packers, but the rest of his run wasn’t all that successful. All in all, the Vikes went 21-32-1 with Frazier at the helm. Since then, he’s spent the past four seasons as the Bills’ DC, overseeing one of the league’s best defenses.

Culley, 65, got his coaching start at FCS program Austin Peay all the way back in 1978. Culley has never even been a coordinator at the NFL level, so it would be a pretty remarkable story if he’s able to land his first head coaching job in 2021. It’s worth noting that Ravens coach John Harbaugh has been a vocal supporter of Culley, who has a chance to secure the league’s last vacancy.

Whether it’s Culley, Frazier, or another coach, the Texans’ next HC will be tasked with getting the buy-in of franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-21 (7:05pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Texans To Interview Ravens AHC David Culley For Opening

We already learned of one new candidate for the Texans’ head coaching job earlier today when former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier popped onto their radar, and now we’ve got another.

Houston will interview David Culley, currently the Ravens’ assistant head coach and receivers coach, for their job, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Culley is 65 and got his coaching start at FCS school Austin Peay all the way back in 1978, so it would be a pretty remarkable story if he’s able to land his first head coaching job ever now in 2020. As Rapsheet noted in his tweet, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has been “outspoken” in his support for Culley.

As if on cue, Harbaugh spoke to the media soon after the news broke on Monday, and said Culley would be a “tremendous hire” for any team. Culley has never even been a coordinator at the NFL level, and has mostly been a receivers coach, so this one would be a bit outside the box.

Of course that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable, and Harbaugh himself charted an unusual path by going from special teams coordinator to head coach. Culley coached under Andy Reid for 18 years, first with the Eagles from 1999-2012 as receivers coach, and then as an assistant head coach and receivers coach with the Chiefs from 2013-16. No matter who they hire, the first priority of any new Texans coach should be mending the now strained relationship between the franchise and Deshaun Watson.

Ravens Notes: Flacco, Mosley, Smith, Culley

The Ravens and new general manager Eric DeCosta aren’t expected to make a decision on the fate of quarterback Joe Flacco until March, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes. The new league year begins in roughly six weeks, and while no trade can be made official until then, Baltimore could agree to deal Flacco to another club before the 2019 league year gets underway. Any pre-June 1 release or trade of Flacco will leave the Ravens with $16MM in dead money; a move after June 1 would put $8MM in dead money on Baltimore’s 2019 books and the same amount on their 2020 cap. In a PFR poll earlier this week, 71% of voters believed the Ravens will be able to find a trade partner for Flacco.

Here’s more from Baltimore:

  • Linebacker C.J. Mosley is perhaps the Ravens’ most important pending free agent, and DeCosta told reporters he “believe[s] in [his] heart” that Mosley will return in 2019, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Mosley, who has missed only two games during his five-year run in Baltimore, graded as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 22 linebacker in 2019. He’s reportedly begun contract talks with the Ravens, but head coach John Harbaugh admitted there are “limitations with money.” Luke Kuechly currently tops the inside linebacker market with a $12.4MM annual salary, while the second tier of the position sits between $10MM and $10.75MM.
  • DeCosta didn’t sound as positive when discussing the possibility of re-signing edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, tweets Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. “We don’t know what Za’Darius’ market is going to be,” said DeCosta. “He had a really nice year. Typically, the market is usually out of control for those guys, initially out of the gate.” Smith, 26, played the most defensive snaps of his career in 2019, managing 8.5 sacks in the process.
  • The Ravens have hired former Bills quarterbacks coach David Culley as assistant head coach/wide receivers/passing game coordinator, Baltimore announced this week. Culley’s addition will complete the Ravens’ offensive staff overhaul, which began when new offensive coordinator Greg Roman was promoted to take the place of Marty Mornhinweg, who rejected another position inside the organization. Culley, 63, overlapped with Ravens head coach Harbaugh on Andy Reid‘s Eagles staff, serving as Philadelphia’s wide receivers coach while Harbaugh led the club’s special teams and defensive backs

Extra Points: 49ers, Gruden, OBJ

Kyle Shanahan is widely expected to become the 49ers‘ next head coach, and now some are beginning to wonder how he will go about filling out his staff. As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee writes, it is unlikely that Shanahan will be able to bring many of his Atlanta assistants with him given that most of those assistants are under contract with the Falcons or are loyal to Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. However, Barrows posits that Shanahan could bring current Atlanta quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur to the Bay Area and install him as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator. LaFleur — who would also be a candidate to replace Shanahan as the Falcons’ OC — has worked with Shanahan for eight seasons in Atlanta, Washington, and Houston.

Barrows’ sources also suggest that Bears’ assistant special-teams coach Richard Hightower could become the 49ers’ special teams coordinator. Hightower worked under Shanahan in 2014 as an offensive quality control coach for the Browns.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from around the league as we anxiously await next week’s Super Bowl:

  • Rich Tandler of CSNMidAtlantic.com does not believe that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is on the hot seat, as some have speculated. Tandler is unsure if Gruden could survive a 6-10 or worse showing in 2017, but he does not believe it’s playoffs or bust for Gruden, who will be entering his fourth year as Washington’s head coach.
  • There is no rush for the Giants to pursue an extension for Odell Beckham, Jr., as James Kratch of NJ.com writes. Between his current rookie deal, the fifth-year option, and the franchise tag, OBJ is locked into the Giants’ roster until at least 2021, so while his future with the team is certainly not in question, New York can afford to wait while they work through their concerns with Beckham.
  • Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, one of the top three quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class, will not participate in the Senior Bowl despite the Browns‘ specifically requesting that he do so. Although the Browns were reportedly not planning to use their No. 1 overall selection on Watson, Mary Kat Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer suggests that Watson’s decision not only denied him the chance to change the team’s mind in that regard, it may make it tougher for Cleveland to select him with their No. 12 overall choice.
  • Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin sat down with Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer to discuss a number of issues, including the 2017 draft and backup quarterback A.J. McCarron. Tobin also mentioned that, although the club re-signed kicker Randy Bullock, Bullock will have an open competition with rookie kickers and/or veteran free agents.
  • David Culley, who worked as Andy Reid‘s wide receivers coach with the Eagles and Chiefs, agreed to become the Bills‘ new quarterbacks coach last week. Per Reid, the 60-year-old Culley still harbors aspirations of becoming a head coach, so he did not want to block his longtime assistant from moving up the coaching ladder (article via Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star).
  • The current collective bargaining agreement runs through 2020, but commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners owners have expressed an interest in extending the CBA, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post writes. However, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith says that the union will not agree to an extension without renegotiation of certain key issues, though he did not specify what those issues are.