HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio defended Friday the decision to fire David Culley as head coach after just one season, citing differences of opinion about the direction the organization should take.
The Texans announced the departures of Culley and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly Thursday night after finishing the season with a 4-13 record.
“When you look at the way we play — the effort, the toughness, the consistency and the competitive spirit — a lot of it has to be attributed to David,” Caserio said. “Philosophically, there were some things at the end that maybe we saw a little bit differently, and that was the impetus for the decision that we made yesterday.”
Culley’s firing leaves only one black coach in the NFL, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brian Flores left the Dolphins after going 9-8. The Texans posted online Friday that they had interviewed Flores for the job.
Culley, 66, spent 43 seasons as an assistant in college and in the NFL before getting his first head-coaching opportunity.
Caserio refused to go into detail about the differences he had with Culley, but made it clear that the decision to fire him was his.
“It’s about solving problems and finding solutions,” Caserio said. “We need to do a better job of it. It’s not necessarily a specific thing. In the end, there were some differences about what steps to take and how to move forward.”
Culley was hired in January of last year to replace Bill O’Brien after working as an assistant in the NFL since 1994. He took over a team that went 4-12 in the 2020 season, with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. .
“We’re in a much better position and, to be frank, I think that’s because of the leadership and direction that Culley took with the team,” Caserio said. “I have a lot of personal respect, appreciation and admiration for what David did for the team. I will be indebted to him for what he did for us.”
Watson requested to leave in a trade around the time Culley arrived on the team and before 22 women filed lawsuits against the quarterback alleging sexual harassment and assault.
Those issues kept Watson off the field and precipitated a rebuild in Houston that left Culley in charge of a depleted team.
Culley didn’t get much of a chance without Watson and with a roster in which many of the quality starters were traded or released as the season went on.