The Houston Texans fired David Culley on Thursday afternoon, so let's make a quick checklist on what we've learned.
Houston Texans: What is Nick Caserio looking for in the next HC?
Nick Caserio, aka the Vault
If it hasn't been evident by now, Nick Caserio isn't going to tip his hand. It's something that was evident in New England and it's still at work here in Houston. Outside of Aaron Wilson, a lot of the transactions have been leaked by NFL Network (Ian Rapoport, Mike Garofolo) and other sports markets who are involved in trades with the Texans.
However, the Brian Flores Zoom interview was posted on the Houston Texans website was published by the team and not other media outlets. The same goes for Joe Lombardi (Chargers OC) and Hines Ward (FAU WR Coach and Future HOF Steelers WR).
Everyone is in the dark with what NIck is looking for the only coaches that were confirmed from the start were Brian Flores and Jerod Mayo, two coaches that Caserio had a good relationship with in New England.
Since then, the two names that were announced (Ward and Lombardi) sort of stunned everyone from the outside looking in. However, Caserio mentioned in his latest interviews to keep an open mind through the search process. The names he's brought in now might not be finalists when it's all said and done.
Qualities the Texans want in a HC
Caserio mentioned he appreciated the attitude David Culley brought in his lone year as the Texans HC. People can criticize Culley for his decisions on the field or some of the blunders in the press conferences but Culley did a good job overall of holding the majority of players accountable and weathering the media storm regarding player's future with the Texans. Those are leadership qualities you can't teach and somewhat underappreciated. It wasn't always pretty but it got the job done.
For the most part, Culley never ran away from questions. Sometimes he had some awful viral responses but he was overall receptive to the media and never dismissive in a disrespectful manner.
As much as Caserio seems to have shades of New England to his manner of operating, he knows the media has a job to do too. And he's been rather available to the media for the most part throughout the year through a weekly show with Marc Vandemeer and John Harris. Culley also took part of them earlier throughout the week.
Nick knows that the image of the team matters and he controls the narrative on how they are depicted. It's not normal for an NFL GM to take a portion of their day each week to speak with the media. Whoever is brought in to be the Texans HC might have to be comfortable being in and around the media.
Being standoffish or creating a divide with the media isn't always the best way in doing business. Caserio seems to be aware of that since taking over the job. He might talk his way out of certain questions but he isn't aloof.
Consistency is a word that might come up with the future HC. It doesn't seem that the Texans want to start from scratch with their coaching staff. Some coaches will have their opportunity to leave but it seems unlikely that Houston completely tears it down. Perhaps Pep Hamilton, Lovie Smith, or Frank Ross are retained.
Houston had some good coaches overall so it doesn't make sense to let everyone go.
Regarding Lovie's future with the team, it could easily go both ways. If the Texans hire a HC with a defensive background, it might not align with Lovie and it could make sense to part ways. It's also fair to point out, it's unlikely that turnovers are sustainable without more talent, but Lovie did a good job with the players he had.
As well as the defense performed in 2021 in forcing turnovers, Lovie's defense had 6 of their 17 interceptions vs. rookie quarterbacks (35% of their interceptions). How many rookie QBs will Houston play in 2022? And can the defense have similar numbers against more seasoned veterans?
Those are questions that Nick has to ask himself when considering how Texans coaches will fare if they are retained.
Youth/Inexperience is on the table
It's hard to take much away from the Culley hire besides two things, Inexperience and leadership. Culley had good leadership qualities but he was rather inexperienced from a play calling perspective. That wasn't why he was brought in.
Texans don't particularly have to hire a former OC or DC to be their next HC. It could very well be a position coach again. You'd obviously want a more competent game decision maker but you don't have to be a former play caller to get a job anymore.
Youth is another important factor that could be different this time. Last year, Caserio brought in Jim Caldwell, Leslie Frazier, and David Culley for second interviews. All of three candidates were in the early to late 60's. It's very unlikely that Caserio will bring coaches at that age with how he praised the Steelers picking a young but promising coach in Mike Tomlin. In this time around, he has to pick a head coach that could be here 5 to 10 years from now.
Caserio doesn't seem to care about rolling the dice with inexperienced coaches but it remains important that he brings someone with a good head on their shoulders. Going into your second head coach in Year 2 is rarely seen as a good thing.
So Caserio has to hit on this next selection despite saying he's immune to pressure. Whenever Culley was fired, the McNair family gave the impression that this was Nick's choice so it's mostly his job on the line if the Texans miss on the mark again.
Looking towards the offseason
Houston has a top 3 pick (for now), and 4 picks in the top 100 heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. Not to mention the additional draft picks they could get if they trade Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil. Despite the 2022 dead cap, they're in a good market and could have financial flexibility moving forward.
Houston is still in the rebuilding phase but they have taken steps in the right direction since last year. It's all about continuing to build on positive momentum. A couple of weeks from now, we will probably have a better idea on who the Texans pick to be their next head coach.