The Texans have zeroed in on an African-American coach who is a disciple of Kansas City Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid.
Eric Bieniemy, he is not.
The Texans, according to sources, have gone completely off the map and hired 65-year-old Baltimore Ravens assistant head coach/wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator David Culley as their new head coach. The team is expected to announce the new head on Friday.
In the meantime, news of the hiring of a career assistant coach, has sent shock waves across the NFL as many had expected the Texans would hire Bieniemy, who is a longtime assistant coach and a third-year offensive coordinator of the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
The Texans had interviewed Bieniemy in the last couple of weeks and had conducted second interviews with former NFL head coaches Jim Caldwell and Leslie Frazier this week, leading some to believe the team would go with an experienced African American head coach.
Instead, the Texans have gone the unconventional route and hired a coach who has been working the sidelines as an assistant coach since 1978 and had seemed to show no aspirations to be a head coach until now. Culley spent 18 years coaching under Reid in both Philadelphia and Kansas City before moving on.
Culley, who was the first Black quarterback to start a game for Vanderbilt in 1975 against Rice, began his coaching career in the college ranks in 1978 and coached at Texas A&M from 1991 to 1993 before breaking into the NFL in 1994.
“David will do a good job,” Reid said to reporters Thursday. “He’s a people person. He’ll bring energy to the building. One of the most loyal guys I’ve ever been around. He’s a great person. We were together 18 years. We had a few cheeseburgers together.”
Reid was put in the awkward position of having to praise his long-time assistant while lamenting the fact that his current offensive coordinator was passed over for all seven available head coaching jobs this offseason. The Texans job was the last remaining, and the only one to filled by a Black man.
“I’m glad I have him [for at least another season], but I’m not so glad I have him,” said Reid, whose team is preparing to head back to the Super Bowl this time to meet Tampa Bay in Tampa Bay. “I was really hoping he would have an opportunity to take one of these jobs. You guys know what I think of him. I think he’s great. I think he would be great for any number of teams that opened up and help them win football games, and also develop men into men. I just think he’s a great person.”
Meanwhile, the Texans resolved one major issue and now seem to have even bigger problem brewing. It has been rumored for weeks that quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out after team CEO Cal McNair went back on his word in allowing Watson to have input into the general manager and head coaching hires.
According to ESPN, Watson formally informed the Texans on Thursday that he wants to be traded. Watson signed a lucrative four-year contract extension with the team in September that has a no-trade clause that allows him to refuse any trade.
Watson has not publicly demanded a trade but the team has confirmed that its franchise quarterback has not returned calls to the owner.
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris