The Texans have fired head coach David Culley following a 4-13 initial season as head coach, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Hours later, Culley said in a telephone interview that he accepts the situation and is ready to move forward with his head held high after leaving Houston.
"I'm disappointed, but it's part of the business," Culley said. "I understand and I move on."
The Texans spent four days conducting their due diligence on Culley and his entire coaching staff as well as keeping track of a growing number of head coaching vacancies.
Ultimately, it was recommended by general manager Nick Caserio to chairman and CEO Cal McNair that the team move on from Culley and now he has been fired along with offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, per sources.
Culley was fired due to performance and game management issues along with alignment, staffing and philosophy disconnects, according to sources.
Culley said he has three years remaining guaranteed on his contract, contrary to sources who stated he was due one year remaining on his deal and was due just $4 million remaining on his deal. Culley is actually due $17 million remaining of his $22 million contract in the final three years of the deal, according to sources.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is not expected to pursue the Texans job or any job at this time and is concentrating on preparations for an AFC wild-card playoff game against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night, per sources.
The Texans are expected to target a potential replacement candidate with ties to Caserio and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby: former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, a former Patriots linebackers coach , and current Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, who’s expected to interview with the Denver Broncos.
"I enjoyed playing for coach Culley, I thought he got a raw deal," said Texans safety Justin Reid, who was disciplined by Culley and benched for one game after a disagreement with him and wide receiver Chris Conley during a team meeting. "He stepped into a difficult situation. He took the brunt of it and led the team to four wins when they didn't expect us to win any games. I feel bad for him. He's a stand-up guy who did things the right way and I think he did well in establishing the culture of the team. He had guys ready to play every Sunday and I wish him the best."
Culley was previously an assistant head coach, passing game coordinator and receivers coach for the Baltimore Ravens after stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs coaching receivers and the Buffalo Bills coaching quarterbacks.
“I thought coach Culley did a great job his first year as a head coach,” Texans veteran center Justin Britt said Monday. “Kind of the situation we had here in Houston wouldn’t have been easy for anybody. I feel like his leadership was consistent and who he was was consistent, and that’s what we needed here as a leader, someone to run this team.
“I hope he gets another shot. I hope he gets to kind of showcase who he is, what he does, how he does it here, because it would be really interesting to see the jump he takes with the team next year. If everything was right, it would be cool to come back.”
The Texans struggled mightily on offense while trying to compete with a roster and an acknowledgement from Caserio at the start of the season that this year would be more “process oriented” than about “outcomes.”
The Texans finished last in the NFL with 83.6 rushing yards per game and averaged just 16.5 points per contest while averaging only 276.5 yards of total offense per game.
Despite the struggles, Culley embraced the experience.
”I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “Learned a lot, a lot of things in that coaching manual I had to go through that weren’t in there, but that’s okay. Always something new happening that was a learning experience for me, but for the most part I just kind of used all the experience that I’ve got working with all the different head coaches, all the situations they’ve been through.
“You’re judged every year. Basically, you’re judged on wins and losses, and if you judge it on wins and losses I’m not happy with four wins at all. I expected to get more than four wins and felt like we should have got more than four wins. This is a bottom-line business, and I wasn’t happy with the number of wins we got.”