HOUSTON - The Houston Texans are just over a month away from hiring a new coach, with hopes of ushering in a new and successful era of football in Houston.
Here are five candidates to keep an eye on.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator
The hottest coaching candidate in this year's cycle. Bieniemy, 51, has been with the Chiefs since 2013 and is entering his third season as the team's offensive coordinator. He played portions of nine seasons in the NFL in the '90s after an impressive four-year career at Colorado.
Under Bieniemy, the Chiefs have been one of the most dynamic offenses in football. Patrick Mahomes won an MVP award and the Chiefs won the Super Bowl overcoming what many believed to be the best defense in football that year in the 2019 49ers.
Last offseason, coming off a Super Bowl win, he interviewed for the head coaching openings in Carolina, New York, and Cleveland.
Players rave about Bieniemy's coaching and approach. They defended him when reports he "interviewed poorly" came out last year. Watch one press conference with him and it is clear he has command of how an offense works and what players need to do to succeed.
The successful aspect of Bieniemy is both a blessing and a curse. It is full of answers and questions. The offense is great in Kansas City, but how much of it is him? Andy Reid is one of the best offensive minds in football. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL. Travis Kelce the top tight end. Tyreek Hill one of the league's most unique wideouts.
None of those things come with him to Houston.
Bieniemy is a choice that would draw little criticism. He's "safe" but will be at the top of a lot of wishlists.
Former Reid assistants have had immediate success when they took over teams. Matt Nagy was 12-4 in his first season as a head coach with the Bears. Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia.
READ MORE: Texans Coach Search: A 'Pederson Plan'?
The hope for Texans fans is for Bieniemy to have similar success without ending up on the hot seat a few years later like Pederson and Nagy are now.
Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator
The only coach on this list who has previously coached in Houston. Saleh, 41, runs one of the better defenses in football, and when his stud players are healthy, he runs a Super Bowl-caliber defense as evidenced by 2019's run by the 49ers.
He nearly bested Patrick Mahomes before the Super Bowl MVP was too much and made just enough plays.
He coached for the Texans starting in 2005 as a defensive intern before moving up to a defensive quality control coach, and then assistant linebackers coach. This is his fourth season in San Francisco. The 49ers have finished 24th, 13th, and second in total defense in his three complete years.
This season, without multiple starters from the Super Bowl defense, the 49ers are seventh in total defense. Saleh has been masterful in navigating the key injuries to Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman. He's defeated offensive whiz Sean McVay and the Rams four straight times now.
Richard Sherman said he believes Saleh will be a successful head coach, praising Saleh's understanding and football mind in addition to his reliability to the players. He's measured in his approach but a fiery presence on the sidelines.
READ MORE: Texans Last Straw as Lions Fire GM & Coach
Saleh will likely be the top candidate for the Detroit Lions job. He was born in Dearborn and went to Northern Michigan. His first coaching was at Michigan State. Jacksonville, where he coached before San Francisco, could be interested in Saleh as well.
Matt Eberflus, Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator
The division rival who has baffled the Texans for the better part of three seasons. Houston scored plenty the first time they met Eberflus' defense, but since then the Texans have averaged just under 18 points per game against the Colts. The worst of the outcomes came in the playoffs when the Indianapolis defense forced Deshaun Watson to play one of his worst games ever.
This is the third season with the Colts for Eberflus. He was originally hired by Josh McDaniels and despite the change of heart by McDaniels stayed at the behest of general manager Chris Ballard without ever meeting the team's new head coach Frank Reich until Reich was hired. He headed to Indianapolis after his contract expired in Dallas. He had been the linebacker coach of the Cowboys for seven seasons. Before he left Dallas, Kyle Shanahan attempted to interview him for the 49ers defensive coordinator job. ... A job that ultimately went to Robert Saleh.
The Colts were the 30th-ranked defense in yards allowed the season before his arrival. In 2018, Indianapolis jumped to 11th in the same category and he coached the defensive rookie of the year Darius Leonard. The Colts slipped to 16th last year before a rebound this season where they're sixth in total yards and fourth in interceptions
Prior to the addition of Deforest Buckner this year, Eberflus was a miracle worker on defense when it came to making the most of the talent given to him. Darius Leonard was the defensive rookie of the year as an inside linebacker and second-round pick. Cornerback Pierre Desir famously took it to DeAndre Hopkins and played very well for the Colts despite having zero success before or after his time in Indianapolis.
He previously interviewed for the Cleveland Browns job that ultimately went to Freddie Kitchens. He should be in high demand from a number of teams, including the Lions and Jaguars and the Chargers, should they fire Anthony Lynn. He would likely be considered for the Cowboys opening in the unlikely event Mike McCarthy gets the boot after one season.
Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator
Brian Daboll has a checkered history in the NFL.
After spending years as a member of the Patriots coaching staff, he eventually ended up being the offensive coordinator for three different teams in four seasons. His offenses authored the 32nd- and 29th-ranked offenses in Cleveland in 2009 and 2010. His production jumped slightly to 20th overall in 2011 with the Miami Dolphins. He was then Romeo Crennel's offensive coordinator on a team that won two games.
READ MORE: Could Texans Keep Romeo Crennel as Coach?
He ended up back in New England before Nick Saban picked him to helm the Alabama offense as the offensive coordinator. The Crimson Tide would win the national championship that season, which included a change to Tua Tagovailoa at halftime of the game - and an overtime victory.
The Bills offense has been solid for one season under Daboll. They were the 29th- and 24th-best offense in his first two seasons. This season though, quarterback Josh Allen has taken a major step forward leading Buffalo to the top of the AFC East and the 11th best offense.
The argument for Daboll would be he did great work with Josh Allen who isn't anywhere near as good as Deshaun Watson, what could he do in Houston?
Daboll's personality skews more towards Texans ex boss Bill O'Brien than any of the other candidates. He comes off very similar to other Patriots head coaches of the past, including O'Brien. One month ago he touted his offensive line as tough, smart, and mentioned their position flexibility.
He should see action from the Chargers, who have their quarterback in place as well as the Jaguars and Jets who are likely to take their franchise quarterbacks with their first-round picks.
Joe Brady, Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator
Brady is the fastest-rising star in football coaching right now. Five years ago he was a graduate assistant at Penn State. Now he is poised to be the youngest head coach in the NFL as he turns 32 next year. Two seasons ago he was an offensive assistant for Sean Payton's Saints, then he went to LSU.
Brady's offense dispensed one of the greatest offensive showcases in the history of college football. Joe Burrow went from average Joe to Heisman Trophy winner and eventual first overall pick in the draft. Ja'Marr Chase won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation's top receiver. His fellow receiver Justin Jefferson went in the first round just like Burrow.
The Tigers demolished defense after defense on their way to a national championship. Brady, weeks later, was the new offensive coordinator in Carolina for Matt Rhule's Panthers.
Teddy Bridgewater is playing the best football of his career under Joe Brady's tutelage. Wide receiver D.J. Moore is as well. Running back Mike Davis came out of nowhere and did one heck of a Christian McCaffrey filling in for McCaffrey. The offensive line stinks in Carolina and the defense doesn't help them, either.
Brady is as close to a wunderkind as Sean McVay was when he was hired to run the Rams. Obviously, the tasks in front of the young Brady would be more monumental than what McVay inherited.
Is someone who has three seasons coaching in the NFL and eight seasons coaching overall ready to lead the Texans?
If he isn't ready to lead the Texans the Chargers, Jaguars, and various college openings will consider Joe Brady to lead their teams.
How did we do? Did we miss your favorite candidate? Let us know and follow us on Twitter at @TEXANSatSI .