Retired former NFL quarterback Josh McCown is interviewing for the second time with the Texans on Friday, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.
McCown, 42, had a formal interview with the Texans previously.
McCown emerged as a wild-card entry into the Texans’ head coaching search one year after he first interviewed with them for the head coaching vacancy that went to David Culley, who was fired after a 4-13 season.
“Josh sees the game the way quarterbacks see it, a certain way, and they have so many responsibilities,” said Steve Smith, a retired Pro Bowl wide receiver who was teammates with McCown with the Carolina Panthers. “I like Josh. He’s been on so many teams that he knows half of the offenses in the league because he’s been around a lot of teams as the backup. He’s assisted in developing the quarterbacks to see it a certain way. I think he’s helped coaches with game plans. It’s an advantage for a coach to have been a backup quarterback. Let’s be honest. When I see a backup quarterback get in the game, at some point, he will reveal why he’s a backup.
“The true essence of a backup’s value is because they study so much that they have to be a second pair of eyes for the quarterback, the coach and the offensive coordinator. That’s a unique responsibility. Not everybody is built for it, but backup quarterbacks have a unique advantage in studying the game and knowing so much. Frank Reich, Doug Pederson, Jason Garrett, they were all backup quarterbacks. They’ve seen the inside of the game. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Josh is being considered for a head coaching job.”
McCown holds strong head coaching ambitions and multiple NFL teams have expressed interest in hiring him previously as an offensive coordinator, including the Philadelphia Eagles. McCown has previously coached only at the high school level, including coaching quarterbacks for his sons’ team at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, N.C.
McCown is highly regarded for his knowledge of the game, leadership skills, personality and coaching upside, according to sources, and he is committed to potentially becoming a head coach and has been preparing for this opportunity.
Several former teammates have expressed support publicly and privately for McCown. On social media, Texans players and former teammates, including linebackers Kamu Grugier-Hill and Christian Kirksey, long snapper Jon Weeks and defensive end Jordan Jenkins, all expressed enthusiasm for McCown.
The interview for the 18-year NFL player drew some criticism a year ago because of McCown’s coaching inexperience.
However, the Texans also have interviewed former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver Hines Ward, a special assistant to Florida Atlantic coach Willie Taggart and a receivers coach in addition to former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon in addition to requesting an interview with Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.
Gannon has made a strong impression and is regarded as a contender for the job, per sources.
McCown built a strong rapport with quarterback Deshaun Watson last season after the Texans signed the oldest practice squad player in NFL history to a two-year, $2.125 million contract in November off the Eagles’ roster.
McCown, who grew up on a ranch in Jacksonville, Texas, if he had been hired last year, would have become the first active player to go from playing to become an NFL head coach since former Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin in 1961 with the Minnesota Vikings. Van Brocklin went 66-100-7 in 13 NFL seasons.
McCown, who has practically operated as a player-coach in recent years with how he mentors fellow quarterbacks, is regarded as a rising star in the coaching profession with many league sources characterizing it as a matter of when, not if he’ll ultimately become an NFL head coach. The Texans’ search remains active with no second interviews set at this time.. McCown is highly regarded by the organization and could potentially have a role on a coaching staff if he's not hired as the head coach.
McCown, a married father of four children who had retired in 2019, is known for his commitment to spending as much time as possible with family. He ended his retirement in 2019 to join the Eagles and played in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in relief of an injured Carson Wentz.
A former Arizona Cardinals third-round draft pick from Sam Houston State, McCown has played for a dozen NFL teams and has a varied background as a former starter, backup and practice squad member who’s also been out of football. McCown spoke openly about his interest in eventually trading his cleats for a clipboard when he joined the Texans.
“I believe so,” McCown said last year. “If you’d asked me that 10 years ago, I would’ve said no way, that’s not what I want to do at this level. My dream coming out of college had I not been able to play in the NFL was to coach high school football here in Texas. The longer I’ve been in this game and been around these guys, I see real value in being able to be a part of an organization and compete at the highest level.
“Whenever I finally take the cleats off, I definitely see that in the future. They (Texans) understand, as did the Eagles and kind of everybody else for the past four or five years of my career, that I’m definitely interested in that.”
Aaron Wilson is an NFL insider and analyst for Pro Football Network and a contributor to Sports Talk 790. He's on Twitter @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram @aaronwilson7128.