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Report: Why the Texans Fired Head Coach David Culley

The Texans fired first-year coach David Culley on Thursday, after he posted a 4–13 record with the team in 2021–22. 

While the record certainly doesn't jump off the page, Culley's dismissal from Houston didn't come without controversy. He won the same number of games in 2021 with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills at quarterback that the team won a year earlier when Deshaun Watson posted the best numbers of his career.

The Texans entered the season seen as the worst team in the league, and were relatively competitive under Culley, knocking off the AFC's top team—the Titans—on the road, along with a win over the playoff-hopeful Chargers and two against the Jaguars.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the decision came down to personnel disagreements in Houston. 

“This came after days of discussion between David Culley, the first year head coach of the Houston Texans—obviously finishing his first season—and Nick Caserio, the general manager, and other members of the Houston brass. And this was going to be a top-down evaluation of everything that goes into the football product on the field for the Houston Texans,” Rapoport reports.

“...As far as the reason why David Culley was fired—and Mike Tomlin is now the only African-American head coach in the NFL—from what I understand, it was philosophical differences. In other words, the Houston Texans wanted David Culley to be open to making staff changes, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Tim Kelly, who was eventually fired along with Culley, had the 32nd ranked offense. They wanted him to take a look at that, evaluate it and say, ‘Changes need to be made,’ and he did not want to do that.  

“And there were other issues, in-game issues, disciplinary issues, but from what I understand, the philosophical issues were probably as much as anything.”

As he notes, with the dismissals of Brian Flores and now Culley, two coaches who probably overachieved in their brief tenures, Mike Tomlin is the only Black head coach in the NFL at the moment.

That may change as the hiring cycle begins, though. Flores is expected to be a hot commodity with his sudden availability, and Rapoport is among those reporting that Jerod Mayo, the former Patriots linebacker who has been rising on Bill Belichick's staff over the last few years, could be a candidate in Houston

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