Taking a collective view of where the Texans are at with almost two weeks in the books since they fired David Culley from his head coaching duties.
If Texans fail or succeed, they are doing it the Nick Caserio Way
Texans HC interview list is an interesting one
Whether it's by design or necessity, Texans had a short list of HC interviews that mostly went back to a few noteworthy candidates Brian Flores and Jonathan Gannon. Joe Lombardi, Hines Ward and Josh McCown also had interviews but they don't move the needle for head coach yet.
Retaining most of the Texans staff
Is it ludicrous that the Texans are keeping most of their staff?
It can be seen through that lense if you view Nick as a control freak that needs everything to be his way or the high way. However, Nick doesn't seem to give that vibe as someone who's looking behind his back and scared of a potential power struggle. He dealt with a dominant personality in New England with Bill Belichick. Granted, he left New England but that was to take on bigger responsibilities.
With that said, there are a number of reasons why Texans could keep some of their 2021 coaching staff as Aaron Wilson reported.
Making sense of it
Financially, Houston already fired David Culley and Tim Kelly. No point in adding more fired staff to the payroll and having to look for more coaches to replace them with. A lot of time and resources go into that.
Another reason is that Caserio was very vocal and appreciative of what they brought to the table (Lovie Smith, Pep Hamilton, Frank Ross).
Lovie showed some good signs as the season progressed in terms of adjusting and Manaav Gupta's exclusive interview with Justin Reid, the former Texans safety complimented Lovie's openesss to feedback from the players. There are upside and downside in continuity, but Lovie showed some good things in 2021.
Keeping Pep was always one of the no brainer moves if possible. He did great work with Davis Mills and he has good track record with developing QBs. It also doesn't hurt that his son started high school in Texas last year and is one of the Top QB recruits in the country. Adding some stability for his family isn't necessarily a bad thing at this stage of his career. Logically, Moving from high school to high school isn't necessarily what every kid wants to do.
On the other hand, Frank Ross was one of the coaches who I never doubted from a job security standpoint. Great friends with the "NFL Ohio Brotherhood" (Nick Caserio, Josh McDaniels, Ben McDaniels, Brandon Staley, Jonathan Gannon, and Ross). All from Ohio and have worked or linked to the Texans in the last few years.
Ross has front office back ground with Nick and the Patriots. Also coached special teams as an assistant in Indianapolis. He was one of Josh McDaniels hires for his staff. McDaniels also hired Gannon as a Defensive backs coach.
With all that said, one can't help but notice that Nicks list is rather small from the rest of the other searches around the league and much more specific.
Whether they didn't have much interest in the job itself due to the outside noise or because they want to potentially retain most of the staff. It's yet to be seen.
However, it's a good thing one way or the other. If Caserio kept most of the staff it's going to be because he believes they can be successful. Hence the team can be successful.
If the team crashes and burns. There is no one else to blame but Caserio. You hired your first head coach out of the lack of options in David Culley, he helped weather the storm but it's understandable why he was fired.
Now you are hiring your second head coach in two years and you're picking your candidate with a little more incentives tied to it. A top 3 pick, cap space, and more draft picks coming on depending if Deshaun Watson and/or Laremy Tunsil are traded.
Caserio and the front office will have no one to blame but themselves if this doesn't work out.
Houston will be in a holding pattern
Unless they plan on hiring Josh McCown and he's fully on board, don't expect the Texans to be one of the first teams to have a head coach hired. As of right now the Broncos, Jaguars, and Giants are already in the stage of bringing back candidates for second interviews.
The Giants have two picks in the top 10 and are in a great market. The Broncos are coming off a 7-10 season but have a good market overall. The Jaguars have a promising QB prospect in Trevor Lawrence and the number one pick in this upcoming draft again.
Those teams will likely have the pick of the litter and then there are those teams that have yet to hire a head coach and a general manager (Vikings, Bears, Raiders).
Then there's Houston and Miami. Two general managers who fired their respective head coaches. On paper, Houston wouldn't be such a bad place. They have a good market, a top 3 pick, and decent cap space to operate in the offseason. However, the Deshaun Watson cloud is still looming. Both sides hold some blame for everything has transpired but no competent head coach will inherit that baggage unless they are fully bought in their partner (Caserio and the Texans).
Houston isn't anyone's first choice, that's just the truth. This franchise went from drowning to finally being able to stay afloat with a life jacket. They're in a better spot than last year but they still have to reach land.
As of right now, they have Brian Flores (Giants are interested), Jonathan Gannon (Vikings are interested), and Josh McCown as the most attractive candidates for 2nd interviews. With all due respect to David Culley, those candidates are likely better than him, but that's not the prettiest list.
Houston needs to cast to a wider net but it's difficult with everything going on. Some of it is self inflicted while other things aren't. If Gannon takes this job, it's going to be a very well qualified candidate that is slightly overqualified for. If he takes this job, It's him taking a leap of faith and believing in Nick Caserio's vision.
David Culley, the concept of power/respect
It's possible Caserio will have to be open to request that candidates make if he wants a respectable hire, whether it's staff or have some say in personnel (not complete control but have a strong voice in it). By all intents and purposes, Caserio can be given the benefit of the doubt of being in the press box while Culley was the head coach.
Caserio has a diverse background as a former coach, college football player, and executive. Most general managers don't have more than two.
To Culley's defense, in the viral clip where Romeo Crennel and Nick were advising Culley to let the Patriots score so Davis Mills would get the ball again with more time in the 4th quarter, Culley opted against it. He was still the ultimate decision maker on the field but his lack of awareness/experience for game management was awfully apparent at times.
The NFL is a cutthroat business and not everything is a power struggle but you have to know what you're signing up as an NFL HC. As far as Culley, all signs pointed that he was just happy to fulfill his dream of becoming a head coach (it doesn't hurt that he got paid handsomely too).
No one held him hostage and made him sign a multi million contract, he had the chance to be more vocal before taking the job. He could've been more stern in certain aspects but he also needed the results to back them up. He did neither.
That's a lesson for whoever takes a job here or anywhere else. Don't expect responsibilities and power to be given to you. Everything has to be fought for or earned.