The Houston Texans have a new head coach, after a very, very thorough search—it wasn’t thorough enough to originally include Eric Bieniemy, but they reluctantly and eventually gave him a Zoom call. In any case, they didn’t hire the offensive coordinator of the team in its second straight Super Bowl. The Texans’ new man is David Culley, who served as the assistant head coach, passing game coordinator, and wide receivers coach of the Baltimore Ravens. You know, the team with an offense firmly dedicated to the run? Well, he coached the other facet of it. That guy.
Over the past month, Texans owner Cal McNair and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby have worked tirelessly to transform what should have been one the most appealing coaching vacancies into the most hellish. Whoever ended up with that job had to be prepared to coach without quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has demanded a trade since the relationship soured between him and management. The Texans’ next coach would need to be willing to answer to and answer for an astonishingly dim failson and an unqualified conniver whose top spot on the draft board will always be reserved for Jesus Christ. I will continue to share this video until it stops being funny, which will never happen.
To be clear, Culley isn’t a pathetic sycophant just because he agreed to coach the Texans. (Judging by the Ravens’ passing numbers, he might not have been long for that gig anyway.) Opportunities are pretty scarce, and at 65 years old, Culley will be the oldest first-time head coach in the history of the NFL. It makes sense that he’d want the job.
Who knows, maybe this long, toxic saga will result in Culley finding success in Houston. But it’s tough not to notice that the most common reaction to this hire is … pity? Backhanded praise? Is it good when a new head coach is anonymously endorsed as a favorite of Andy Reid, but not the favorite?
Yes, surely Easterby will handle the brunt of the micromanaging.
Jeff McLane’s opinion on Culley doesn’t hold more weight than any other football writer’s, but that doesn’t feel like the highest compliment for a new head coach. Well, who knows, but people seem to like and respect him. Most new hires tend to be liked and respected. That’s typically an important thing.
The seven new head coaches hired this cycle are all NFL first-timers; Culley is the only black head coach of the group. It’s not nothing that McNair, who was most openly dismissive of advice and references in his search for a new coach this year—and whose late father Bob once said, “We can’t have inmates running the prison,” when talking about players kneeling during the national anthem—would be the one to approve that hire. But it’s also depressingly predictable. If Watson does get traded and the Texans bottom out, Culley will probably be fired, even if he wasn’t responsible for any of the decisions that created the original mess. So, that’s the best job a black coach could get this season.
The NFL’s “enhancements” to the Rooney Rule didn’t work last year, and they didn’t work this year either. Bieniemy’s case is the most glaring, but it’s not solely about him. Ultimately, it’s always been about the prejudices of the team owners. In 2003, the Rooney Rule was installed because the NFL was threatened with litigation for having a total of two black head coaches. In 2021, including Culley, there will be three.