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Nick Caserio: We had philosophical differences with David Culley over long-term direction of program

Michael Smith and Michael Holley react to the Houston Texans firing head coach David Culley after one season and discuss how this affects the state of coaching in the NFL.

Texans General Manager Nick Caserio will hold a news conference Friday morning after firing head coach David Culley on Thursday, four days after the team’s season ended. Caserio released a statement through the team Thursday night about the decision.

“Earlier today, I met with David Culley and Tim Kelly to inform them we will be moving in a different direction at the head coach and offensive coordinator positions,” Caserio said in the statement. “I came to this difficult but necessary decision after reviewing our football operation. While a change after one season is unusual, we had philosophical differences over the long-term direction and vision for our program moving forward. We appreciate coach Culley for helping us navigate through a difficult season, but it is my responsibility to make decisions that I feel are best for our organization. The search for the next coach of the Houston Texans will begin immediately.”

Firing a coach after one season is not as unusual as some may think. Culley became the 13th one-and-done head coach since 2006.

But after being given arguably the worst roster in the NFL, Culley was set up to fail. He ended up winning the same number of games in 2021 that the Texans did in 2020 with Deshuan Watson. Watson was inactive for all 17 games this season and is expected to be traded in the offseason.

Culley signed a four-year deal with the Texans less than a year ago, and he told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle that his contract is guaranteed through 2025.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports the Texans owe Culley another $17 million over the next three years, allowing Culley to walk away with some $22 million.

“I loved every minute of being the head coach of the Houston Texans,” Culley said in a statement. “I appreciate the players and coaches for staying the course with me through the ups and downs of our season. I’m disappointed we didn’t win more games and I won’t have a chance to improve on the lessons I’ve learned, but I fully understand this is a bottom-line business, and I didn’t do enough. I want to thank the McNair Family and Nick Caserio for giving me this opportunity. I am forever grateful for the experience. I wish this team and organization the best. They are building a special program, and I truly believe the future is bright for Texans fans.”

The Texans, who have become one of most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL, now are seeking to hire their fourth head coach in less than 15 months following Bill O’Brien, interim coach Romeo Crennel and Culley.

“We are grateful for the energy and passion David brought to our organization throughout last season,” Texans chair and chief executive officer Cal McNair said in a statement. “We wish him, his wife Carolyn and their entire family nothing but the best moving forward. I have entrusted Nick Caserio to lead football performance and I have complete confidence he will find the best leader for our team. These decisions are difficult, but Nick believed it was necessary for the future of our organization. We look forward to continuing to build our roster and finding the right coach to lead us forward.”