HOUSTON – Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio on Friday defended his decision to fire head coach David Culley after just one season, citing disagreements over the organization’s path forward.
The Texans announced the resignation of Culley and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly on Thursday evening after a 4-13 season.
“If you look at the way we played – the commitment, the power and consistency and the competitive spirit we played with – a lot of that should be attributed to David,” Caserio said. “Philosophically, there were some things we saw maybe a little bit differently in the end, and that was the impetus for the decision we made yesterday.”
Culley’s resignation left only one Black head coach in the NFL, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brian Flores was fired this week after leading the Miami Dolphins to a 9-8 record.
Culley, 66, spent 43 seasons as a college and NFL assistant before finally landing his first job as head coach.
Caserio declined to go into details about where he disagreed with Culley, insisting that it was his decision to fire him.
“It’s about solving problems and finding solutions,” Caserio said. “We have to do that better, and I have to do that better. It’s not necessarily one specific thing. In the end, there were some differences about the next steps and how we’re going to move forward, not necessarily a rear-view mirror on what happened.”
Culley was hired last January to replace Bill O’Brien after serving as an NFL assistant since 1994. He took over a team that finished 4-12 in the 2020 season with Deshaun Watson as quarterback.
“We are in a much better position, and frankly I think it’s because of the leadership and guidance and direction David Culley has given this football team,” Caserio said. “I have a lot of personal respect and appreciation and admiration for what David has done for this team. We will forever be indebted to him for what he has done for us.”
Watson requested a swap around the time Culley was hired, and before that, 22 women filed lawsuits against the QB for alleged sexual harassment or assault. Those issues kept Watson sidelined all season and sparked a rebuild in Houston, leaving Culley at the helm of an exhausted team.
Culley didn’t stand much of a chance without Watson and with a roster that saw most of the few remaining quality starters swapped or released as the season went on.
A month after Culley joined the Texans, JJ Watt, a longtime star, asked for his release from the team. Houston gave it to him and he signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
Texan owner Cal McNair thanked Culley for his work on Thursday and looked to the future.
“I have entrusted Nick Caserio to lead the football performance and I am confident that he will find the best leader for our team,” McNair said in a statement. “These decisions are difficult, but Nick believed it was necessary for the future of our organization. We look forward to building our roster and finding the right coach to help us move forward.”
The Texans finished last in the NFL with just 278.1 yards per game and 30th in the league with 16.5 points per game.
“It’s about production,” Caserio said of Kelly’s violation and firing. “Honestly, there are some areas where we need to do better. I have a lot of respect for Tim and I think Tim is a good coach, but that was just one thing we had to do to move forward in the organization.”
Kelly had been with the Texans in various roles since 2014 and had been the offensive coordinator since 2019.
Caserio and the Texans will now try to replace Culley and Kelly. Caserio said it’s too early to know if there will be any more changes to the coaching staff, and that many of those staffing decisions could be up to the next head coach.
Caserio said there is no timeline for hiring the next head coach and the organization will be thorough and patient.
“The head coach position is probably more of a leadership position than anything else,” Caserio said. “My responsibility is to continue to provide support and infrastructure so that the entire organization can succeed.”
In addition to hiring a new head coach and offensive coordinator, the Texans will have their hands full trying to resolve Watson’s situation and evaluate how they want to use it, which could be the third overall pick.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Caserio said. “This year I feel that we have laid a very good foundation. If you go forward, our situation is a lot better now than last year around this time.”
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Source Texans GM says disagreements led to Culley’s firing