HOUSTON - NFL & Coach Tracker: Every Houston Texans move, interview, rumor, insight ... it's all here. Check back often for updates as we gather them ...
MONDAY FEB 8: A McDANIELS COMES ABOARD Ben McDaniels recently lot his job as a Michigan assistant.
He just found a new job here at "Patriots South'' ... er, we mean, the Houston Texans.
We always found it weird that to begin this cycle, the team immediately and forcefully leaked to the media that it would not be hiring Ben's more famous brother, Patriots top assistant Josh McDaniels, as the head coach. (Eventually, of course, Houston hired David Culley).
Why such a show for a "no''?
Well, the "show'' continues. Another McDaniels will come aboard as an "offensive assistant/assistant quarterbacks coach.''
Ben, 40, is not without credentials
He began as an analyst under coach Jim Harbaugh before being promoted to receivers coach when Jim McElwain left the staff. McDaniels served as the Wolverines’ quarterbacks coach the past two seasons.
McDaniels, 40, is not without credentials. Nor are we alleging that he's not necessarily a Culley hire. (Though there is an investigation to be done here on exactly that question with this staff.) And the Patriots connection isn't quite the straight line it is with Nick Caserio and Jack Easterby. But Ben's big break in the NFL was serving as the Broncos QB coach years ago ... when the Broncos' head coach was his brother Josh.
Yes, there is a buzz among people in the profession that getting fired by Michigan and then "falling up'' to an NFL job is a case of cronyism ... and yes, there is a buzz among people in the profession that this is becoming increasingly commonplace in Houston, with one source using the words "compliance'' and "obedience'' to describe Easterby's hiring influence key words.
Is Ben McDaniels the best person for the job? Maybe.
Is Ben McDaniels the best person to support Easterby's vision? Probably.
FEB 4: McCOWN 'SUCCESSION'? David Calley is the head coach today.
Is there already a plan to make Josh McCown his heir?
WEDNESDAY FEB 3: DC LOVIE SMITH'S SON AMONG LATEST COACHING MOVES
Newly-appointed head coach David Culley wasted no time in putting his stamp on the Houston Texans coaching staff, hiring veteran coach Lovie Smith as their defensive coordinator shortly after his own arrival.
Among a number of moves this Wednesday was the news that Smith's son Miles as the linebackers coach. In a corresponding move, now former linebackers coach Bobby King has been moved to defensive line coach.
On offense, Culley has brought in Andy Bischoff from his former employers up in Baltimore as the tight ends coach, replacing the Alabama-bound Will Lawing, while Danny Barrett will remain in his role as running backs coach.
TUESDAY FEB 2: THE TEXANS ARE EXPECTED TO ADD TWO new coaches to their staff. Frank Ross is set to head up the special teams unit and Dino Vasso will coach in the secondary according to The Houston Chronicle.
Ross comes as a highly-touted special teams assistant in Indianapolis. The Colts placed backup safety George Odum on the All-Pro team as a special teams player. Indianapolis also had the fifth-most kickoff return yards. Their kicking was solid, near where the Texans were on field goal percentage.
Before his stint with the Colts, Ross worked with now Texans general manager Nick Caserio in New England in the personnel department. He takes over a unit that was solid, but not spectacular. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn and punter Bryan Anger should be unchallenged returners for the Texans this fall.
Dino Vasso was recently the assistant defensive coordinator in Philidelphia where he also served as the assistant secondary coach. Vasso was a coach on the Chiefs defense before he was in Philadelphia.
The secondary is one of the greatest obstacles towards success for the Texans. There is a lack of depth and the cornerback spot is almost totally devoid of talent overall. Vasso has the toughest job of any position coach on the team.
SUNDAY JAN 31: WR COACH HIRED The Texans have hired former Detroit Lions receivers coach Robert Prince to handle the same duties in Houston, The Chron is first to report.
Prince, 55, has previously coached for the Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks and this year served as the Lions' one-game interim coach in a loss to the Buccaneers in a week when the Detroit staff was dealing with COVID.
FRIDAY: CULLEY INTRODUCED: Newly-appointed Houston Texans head coach David Culley has made his management style clear, and it revolves around trust, consistency, and honesty.
READ MORE: Houston Coach Culley Reveals 'Who I Am'
READ MORE: Source: Texans Coordinator Job Goes To Lovie
READ MORE: Kelly Staying, But Texans Coach Culley Credibility Still in Doubt
As Houston works to complete its staff, we didn't get our "Dream Team.'' But we did mention a name or two that is going to fit, including the possible involvement of Josh McCown ....
Just not, in our opinion, as a head coach. Yet.
WEDNESDAY JAN 27: WITH NO SECOND interview in the works for Eric Bieniemy the Texans could be down to the only two candidates who interviewed twice with general manager Nick Caserio. Jim Caldwell got a second interview, but only one total interview since Caserio's hiring.
Ravens assistant head coach David Culley, 65, got a second interview this week. He has never been a top guy on a staff in the NFL before. He previously worked in Buffalo, where the likely favorite for the Texans' job currently works. The Houston Chronicle calls Bills' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier the favorite.
Frazier, 61 and a former head coach, has fine credentials but also important, he has ties to this front office as his agent is Bob LaMonte - who also reps Caserio and team exec Jack Easterby. Frazier is free to be hired at any time by the Texans thanks to the exit of Buffalo from the playoffs this past weekend. He has been assembling a staff recently in anticipation of getting the job in Houston.
Houston is competing with no other team for a head coach at this point. They have their pick as the last team to make a head coach hire. The team seems to have made their mind up on Bieniemy with no second interview and no competitors for their candidates.
Both Culley and Frazier could ideally be steadying hands on
MONDAY JAN 25: SECOND VISITS The Texans are setting up second interviews with the Bills’ Leslie Frazier and the Ravens ‘ David Culley for their head coaching job, per sources, NFL Network reports. Both are now out of the playoffs (unlike Super Bowl-bound Chiefs assistant Eric Bieniemy) and therefore eligible to meet with suitors in person.
SUNDAY JAN 24: FINALISTS' 'WHAT-IF' STAFFS The Texans will likely request second interviews with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy after they face off in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, per ESPN.
And furthermore, both candidates - who we wrote some time ago were likely to be finalists for the top Texans job - are assembling "what-if?'' coaching staffs ... readying themselves to hit the ground running.
Frazier is said to have had a strong interview with the Texans and has previous head-coaching experience from his time with the Minnesota Vikings. Bieniemy is viewed in many circles as a head coach in waiting, though he has recently been passed over by several teams.
FRIDAY JAN 22 PM: TWO MORE INTERVIEWS for the Texans as they can take all the time in the world, being as they are the last team to hire their coach. The Texans announced Jim Caldwell and current Houston quarterback Josh McCown interviewed with the team Friday.
This is the second interview for Caldwell, but his first since general manager Nick Caserio was hired. The former Colts and Lions head coach was out of football in 2020 and most recently was a head coach in Detroit where he went 9-7 his final year.
McCown is the most outside-the-box interview to date for the Texans. He was added to the roster in the middle of the season and still has a player contract for next year with the Texans. He has long been talked about as a head coach candidate in the future and the Eagles almost made him their offensive coordinator last year.
FRIDAY JAN 22 AM: WEAVER OUT The changing of the guard on the Texans staff is happening now, even before a head coach is hired, as Dianna Russini reports that Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver is making a move, having joined the Baltimore Ravens staff as the run game coordinator/defensive line coach.
As Dianna points out, Weaver was drafted and played for the Ravens back in 2002-2005.
MONDAY AM: ERIC BIENIEMY'S INTERVIEW WITH THE TEXANS is set. The NFL changed a rule that kept coordinators from teams in the playoffs from interviewing and according to NFL Media, the first move for the Texans was to talk to Eric Bieniemy.
This also means Bieniemy took the Texans' request after there was some speculation he might not accept an interview with the Texans. He will speak with the team digitally on Monday.
The Eagles are the only other open NFL job and they plan to speak with Bieniemy as well. Philidelphia's last hire, Doug Pederson, was also the offensive coordinator in Kansas City so perhaps Bieniemy is a longshot there.
It also should be a positive development on the Deshaun Watson front as he has been a fan of Bieniemy in this hiring cycle.
SUNDAY PM: WEAVER TO RIVAL? Jaguars coach Urban Meyer plans to interview Texans defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, a league source tells the Chronicle.
Weaver of course is no sure bet to remain in Houston once a new head coach is hired.
SATURDAY PM: MATT EBERFLUS INITIALLY bowed out of an interview opportunity with the Houston Texans, but he's back in the mix according to NFL Media.
The Texans interviewed the respected Colts defensive coordinator on Saturday.
Eberflus was one of the two names Deshaun Watson weighed in on in the closing weeks of the 2020 season.
"From what I’ve heard and played against him, Matt’s been very, very disciplined. That’s the type that you want. From the players and the scheme that I’ve been playing against, Indianapolis, they’re about what they do and they do it perfectly. They understand different concepts and what they want to do as an Indianapolis Colts defense. That’s why they’ve been successful. From what I’ve heard about him, he’s a great guy to play for."
With Eberflus reconsidering the Texans, could the chaos be starting to blow over?
FRIDAY PM: WADE PHILLIPS IS READY Old friend Wade Phillips wants back in.
"I am ready to retire from retirement!,'' he tweeted on Friday morning. "I am ready and available. Let’s win.''
Phillips, 73, was an architect of the Rams defense before being let go after the 2019 NFL season. He's been working as a consultant - high schools, colleges, pros, whoever calls - and he's got a great reputation as a coordinator.
In Dallas, of course, he served as a head coach from 2007-10. And in Houston? Well, "Son of Bum'' is a legend. This is his town, and he was the coordinator (2011–2013) and the interim head coach (2013) after another-life stint with the Oilers, the team led by his famous father.
In 2021? Wade Phillips says he ready.
FRIDAY AM: SABAN'S O'BRIEN TRUTH Legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban obviously thinks highly of Bill O'Brien. That's why he's likely to bring him to his staff.
“I think he did a really good job in Houston when he was the head coach,” Saban told Sports Radio 610. “I think when he became the general manager, maybe things didn’t go exactly how he would’ve liked, trying to have both roles. Having been a head coach in that league, I know how difficult it is to do both of those things, probably impossible.”
The Texans fired O’Brien as GM and head coach in October after an 0-4 start. O’Brien, hired as head coach before the 2014 season, complied a record of 52-48 in Houston. So Saban's point is solid. So is his feeling about O'Brien in general.
"I think he’s an outstanding coach and a really good person,'' Saban said. "He’s got a great family, and I think he’ll do a great job with our players here.''
How did O'Brien become the GM in Houston? Who made that decision? And if it's an "impossible'' job, why did all involved - including O'Brien himself - approve it?
THURSDAY AM: STALEY ON LIST The Texans have requested an interview with Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley ... who has a tie of sorts with new GM Nick Caserio.
In addition to the true credentials of Staley, 38, who runs one of the NFL's best defenses, he is a former John Carroll University defensive coordinator. So what? Caserio played his college football as a QB at ... John Carroll University.
TUESDAY PM: ERIC UPDATE: You want the good news or the bad news? Yes, the Texans have submitted a request to interview Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for the head-coaching vacancy in Houston.
As Tom Pelissero is first to note, "They cannot actually interview him right now. Writes Tom: "Houston will have to wait: Based on the anti-tampering policy, the initial interview window for Eric Bieniemy closed Sunday, so the Texans aren't permitted to interview him until the Chiefs lose or after the Super Bowl, whichever comes first.''
So, not idea.
TUESDAY AM: CALDWELL BUZZ We're not sure if Pro Football Talk is hearing "buzz'' or trying to create "buzz,'' but the site has published a report connecting Jim Caldwell to the Texans' head coaching vacancy ... saying Caldwell would be the "best way to clean up the mess'' would be hiring Caldwell, that Caldwell "could be the calming influence the team needs,'' and that Caldwell, 65, who to his credit has a 62-50 record in the regular season and did interview earlier in this offseason for the Houston job, has a "calm and confident personality and demeanor could help patch things up with (Deshaun) Watson.
While PFT's track record on these matters is not good, we do owe them lunch - and an apology! - for us taking them to task on a related matter, PFT having been first to suggest that Watson's unhappiness could lead to a trade. (It hasn't happened yet, and he hasn't even requested one, but still. Lunch on us, at Lefty's!)
We retain our right to just a bit of cynicism here, however. Is this a Texans "buzz'' or is this "buzz'' coming from, say, Tony Dungy, who is a strong advocate of Caldwell and a PFT/Florio co-worker?
To suggest Caldwell as a viable candidate is one thing. To praise him effusively for his "calmness'' and "confidence'' and "personality'' and "demeanor'' and his "best way'' and adding, "Caldwell could be the right man at the right time to stabilize a team''?
This almost reads like a press release written on behalf of Jim Caldwell.
Oh, and if we're wrong about our skepticism here? Lunch on us. Twice. At Lefty's!
MONDAY PM: BOB GETS A JOB Bill O'Brien lands on his football feet at Alabama.
MONDAY NOON: The Texans are expected to interview the assistant head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, David Culley, for their head coaching job, a source tells Ian Rapoport. Rap writes that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh "has been outspoken about how ready Culley is. An impressive coach.''
Culley, 65, has been a coach for over 40 years and an assistant in the NFL for 26 years.
Additionally, multiple reports say that Leslie Frazier, presently the Bills defensive coordinator, is scheduled to interview.
SUNDAY NIGHT: Cal McNair has a "vision.'' He shares it here ...
SUNDAY MORNING: Deshaun Watson is not pleased with the Texans. ESPN is reporting Watson is at a "10" on the angry scale after being at a "2" last season when the team traded DeAndre Hopkins.
The process of hiring a general manager didn't include Watson after he was told he would be included. The Texans seemed set to follow the suggestions of search firm Korn Ferry but suddenly shifted focus to the hiring of Nick Caserio who was not on the Korn Ferry list.
Watson is also displeased the Texans haven't and seemingly won't interview Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Speculation now turns to if Watson would force a trade by withholding his services as the quarterback. Though a Mort Report is something more than "speculation.''
FRIDAY EVENING: The Texans are interviewing an interesting candidate for their head coaching position.
According to NFL Media, Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly will be interviewed for the vacant head coach position.
Deshaun Watson has been vocal in his support of Tim Kelly crediting him with some of his improvement in 2020. He said he talked to CEO Cal McNair about his positive relationship with Kelly.
Is this an attempt to appease Watson who saw his desires go unfulfilled when the team failed to request an interview with Eric Bieniemy?
Or, as we have reported in this space, is this about making super-agent Bob LaMonte happy? He is the agent for new Texans general manager Nick Caserio, Jack Easterby, and you guessed it, Tim Kelly.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON: New Texans general manager Nick Caserio tells SportsRadio 610 in Houston he wants Deshaun Watson to help with the process of hiring a new head coach.
"Once we get to the head coach hire, he's going to be an integral part of the process," Caserio said.
That is reportedly what Watson wanted in the general manager process and CEO Cal McNair had even promised Watson input.
He didn't deliver on his promise.
Can Nick Caserio pay off on his promise? Does Deshaun Watson even want to help after being scorned?
FRIDAY NOON: The Texans' press conference features new GM Nick Caserio, and he's asked about Watson being unhappy and the notion of a trade.
"I think the most important thing for us is to speak directly to Deshaun,'' Caserio said, shutting down the idea of a trade. "He's our quarterback.''
Additionally, chairman Cal McNair followed up on the status of Watson and J.J. Watt: "They're valued members to our team. They're important,'' he said. "They're passionate and they want to win. That's all in alignment with what we've done in bringing Nick on board. It's perfect."
"Perfect'' may be a stretch; the organization needs to discuss with Watt the wisdom of bringing him back. But talking with Watson would make his situation a bit less imperfect. McNair pledged to do so once the QB returns to Houston from vacation.
THURSDAY PM: While we still take issue with the Pro Football Talk assertion that this is going to lead to a Watson trade demand (Houston is not trading him), both Rapoport and Schefter are now noting that the QB is unhappy about being excluded from the GM decision-making process.
And indeed, if this organization promised Watson that he was going to have a voice ... and then he learned about the Caserio hiring via social media? The Texans goofed. Again.
WEDNESDAY AM: WHY NOT JOSH? Nick Caserio’s first big tasks as the Houston Texans’ general manager include hiring a new head coach.
How odd is it that we find out that the coach will not be Josh McDaniels. ... because somebody leaked it to standout journalist John McClain of the Chron? When has a team ever essentially "announced'' who ISN'T a candidate?
The fact that McDaniels, the longtime New England Patriots offensive coordinator, “isn’t a candidate to become the Texans’ new head coach,'' as McClain said, is notable enough. But why does Houston have to clarify it so boldly?
Because McDaniels' name is that prominent at team HQ. That's why.
Jack Easterby has Cal McNair's ear. Bob LaMonte is Jack's agent. Bob reps Nick. Nick was a college football teammate with Josh.
Bob is Josh's agent.
Josh McDaniels' name has not been linked to any of the current head-coaching vacancies. LaMonte would like to change that - especially because sources suggest to us that while McDaniels was once the heir to the Belichick throne in New England, Bill now wants his own son, Steve, to take over as head coach someday.
So the Texans were obligated to at least talk about Josh. (And maybe they aren't quite done doing so; we'll see). Because Jack wants to talk about Josh because Nick wants to talk about Josh because Bob needs them to talk about Josh.
TUESDAY PM: It's Nick Caserio as the new Houston GM.
Read all about it - and "The Jack Web'' that brings him here - above.
TUESDAY PM: BRADY TO HOUSTON? No not that Brady. Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady officially interviewed for the Houston Texans head coaching opening on Tuesday, with Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle stating that the interview was "outstanding."
The former college wide receiver for William & Mary made a name for himself at LSU last year as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, guiding quarterback Joe Burrow to a Heisman Trophy and the Tigers to become National Champions.
TUESDAY PM: CASERIO A REAL POSSIBILITY New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio has been linked with the Texans ever since their botched attempt to bring him in to replace Brian Gaine as GM failed back in 2019.
However, the possibility of Caserio to Houston looks more likely this time around, having interviewed in-person for the position on Tuesday. According to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, the interview "went extremely well," but went on to point out that "nothing is done or imminent."
At the same time, the Chron's John McClain hinting that Houston may have its man in Caserio.
TUESDAY PM: WATSON WISDOM When you boil down Deshaun Watson's remarks on Monday regarding a new Texans head coach, he is essentially saying the job - and this franchise - requires five things.
When asked what he is looking for in a new head coach, Watson mentioned ...
1) "We need a whole culture shift.''
2) "We need new energy.''
3) "We need discipline. We need structure.''
4) "We need a leader so we can follow that leader as players. That's what we need ... We need someone that stands tall, and this is who we follow and this is the way it goes."
5) "There's too many different minds, too many different ideas and too many people thinking they have this power, and it's not like that.''
Or, rather, it IS like that. And it needs to NOT BE like that.
It's not very often when we fully endorse the idea of a player having the authority to help pick his boss. The player could be Michael Jordan and the setup still comes with pitfalls.
But Watson? Those five statements above indicate that there may be no clearer thinker in all of Texans HQ than the team-MVP quarterback.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: JOE BRADY INTERVIEW ONE DONE The Houston Texans announced they completed an interview with Joe Brady the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. The 31-year-old Brady coordinated the only offense in football that had four players total 1,000 or more yards on one offense.
Nick Caserio, of the New England Patriots, is in town for his interview according to multiple reports. Caserio never even got this far in 2019 when the Texans pursued him before being hit with tampering charges.
MONDAY EVENING: TEXANS INTERVIEW STEELERS EXECUTIVE The Houston Texans announced on Monday evening that they had concluded an interview with Pittsburgh Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan for their general manager vacancy.
Known as a "contract guru" per PFF, Khan has been with the Steelers since 2002. Given Houston's salary cap situation, bringing in a general manager with his experience in this department would be a smart move. Throw in the consistently strong roster he has helped the Steelers bring to the table year after year, whether that be via strong drafts or trades, and the 43-year old is an intriguing option.
MONDAY EVENING: TEXANS INTERESTED IN THEIR MCVAY The Houston Texans have requested permission to speak with Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady.
Brady checks in at 31-years-old and has just three seasons of NFL experience, but don't let the age fool you. Brady was handpicked by Sean McVay to assist on offense. Then, after his time with the Saints, Brady exploded onto the football landscape.
His offense at LSU was one of the most prolific ever and his work with quarterback Joe Burrow turned him from an undrafted free agent to a number one pick. NFL Media reports the Falcons and the Chargers are also interested in Brady.
MONDAY PM: OC ARTHUR SMITH ON THE LIST In one of a couple of Monday news items that belong in the "If-You-Can't-Beat-'Em'' Department, the Texans - along with the other five teams with head coach openings - are reportedly planning to interview Titans' offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
If you know the Texans, then you probably know the Titans. And if you know the Titans, you are aware of the damage done by the Tennessee offense under Smith.
MONDAY AM: EBERFLUS AND DESHAUN QB Deshaun Watson On Interviewee Matt Eberflus of Colts, at least one name on the long list of Houston Texans’ head coaching candidates will bring to his interview a familiarity with the AFC South - and with the state of Texas.
Matt Eberflus, the successful Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, will be interviewed by the Texans (and per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, by other clubs, including the New York Jets).
The Texans know their way around the 50-year-old coordinator, and he,
as a Colts top aide since 2018, knows the AFC South rival Texans.
Eberflus quickly transformed the Indianapolis defense into a top-10 unit. The Colts, who are now preparing for the playoffs, allowed 22.6 points and 332.1 yards per game this season - both top-10 NFL numbers.
Eberflus has never been a head coach before, at any level. But he will come with recommendations from his many mentors, especially with the head coaches and coordinators with whom he worked as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys, where he coached a variety of systems, another attractive part of his resume.
Texans star Deshaun Watson is on record as being supportive of the idea of hiring Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. But on Monday the quarterback issued positive comments on Eberflus as well. Said Watson:
"From what I’ve heard and played against him, Matt’s been very, very disciplined. That’s the type that you want. From the players and the scheme that I’ve been playing against, Indianapolis, they’re about what they do and they do it perfectly. They understand different concepts and what they want to do as an Indianapolis Colts defense. That’s why they’ve been successful. From what I’ve heard about him, he’s a great guy to play for.”
MONDAY AM: THE PATRIOT WAY The Houston Texans fired general manager Brian Gaine in the summer of 2019 and days later were told they weren't allowed to interview their lead candidate to replace Gaine.
Nick Caserio was the target but the Texans never got the chance to talk to him. Instead, the Patriots filed tampering charges on the Texans for trying to poach their director of player personnel.
The charges stemmed from two things. One, Texans executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby was seen conversing with Caserio at a Patriots' Super Bowl celebration. Two, Caserio had language in his contract preventing his departure from New England and Cal McNair admitted the Texans didn't know that when pursing Caserio.
Maybe this time will be different. Read all about the history, and the Texans' new pursuit of Caserio, here.
SUNDAY AM: WHICH JOB IS BETTER? Other teams have openings, too, of course. How do the Texans stack up in terms of attractiveness?
Shop and compare.
SUNDAY AM: WHY NOT URBAN MEYER? Just a thought, as the Jaguars are rumored to be ready to offer him the job ...
Are the Texans sure they don't want "a college guy''?