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'Mr. Right Now': How Well Is Coach David Culley Filling Texans' Needs?

David Culley showed Saturday evening that he might be the right answer for the Texans after all.

HOUSTON -- David Culley's demeanor isn't one for shouting at his players when they make a mistake or forcing them to run laps. The first-year head coach for the Houston Texans likes to talk things out rather than scream them out.

But Saturday proved there is another side of Culley — one tired of little mistakes that will derail a team from reaching its potential. An example: During the evening training camp scrimmage, wide receiver Chris Conley was flagged for a false start. 

This time around, Culley let the veteran have it. He pulled him off the field and him an ear-full. 

Who is this David Culley? And what has he done with the always-smiling version?

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"The thing you know about coach Culley is he's not shy about telling you how he feels," Conley said after the chew out. "I had a pre-snap penalty in the scrimmage and he let me have it. That's no different than the coach Culley I had as a rookie." 

During their time in Kansas City, Culley pulled Conley out of the rotation one game after one too many dropped passes. The former third-round pick can remember it being a low point, but also a learning one. 

"He's going to demand what he needs," Conley said. "Ultimately, he's going to give you the tools you need to help the team succeed."

As the NFL regular season approaches, most fans of the sport expect a woeful year at NRG Drive. With Deshaun Watson still holding out, plus some perplexing moves from the front office, Houston is projected to be selecting top-three come the 2022 NFL Draft. 

And of all the coach hires made this offseason, Culley was the one universally panned by the critics. The 27-year veteran coach who had backing from names like Andy Reid and John Harbaugh just wasn't appealing enough to many. 

Sometimes though, it’s the unknowns names that end up being the successful surprise. One surprise was the this new side of Culley "losing it'' just a bit.

It was a jolt — for his players, for the media and fans, and surely for his critics.

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"That's bad football,'' said Culley of the errors, "and we're not going to play bad football."

Of course, that's what most prognosticators see for Culley and the Texans in 2021 — "bad football.''

They won't if Houston's new coach has something to say about it. 

Culley will be relying on QB Tyrod Taylor to lead the offense, and to help fix the errors.

“That’s his job to overcome those,” Culley said. “When bad things happen, we’ve got to line up with the next-play mentality. Those are drive killers."

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Same thing defensively. Any offsides call can lead to a free play. On Saturday, wide receiver Brandin Cooks broke free for a 65-yard touchdown, but it was called back due to a false start. 

Imagine Culley's reaction if it was a Sunday mistake?

"We can't have that," Culley said. "That's just focus and concentration. Usually it happens when they get tired and they're not focusing on what they need to focus on. We've got to get that corrected and we will get it corrected."

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Heck, it'd be great if it could be fixed before Saturday's road trip to Green Bay. But maybe it takes 17 games for Culley's teachings to set in. But Culley walked off the field Saturday night with what might be added respect of his players —and perhaps even doubters.

The Texans are treading water for now. But Culley is so far demonstrating he's not in over his head.

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