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Thursday January 20th, 2022 8:23AM

AP source: Texans fire coach David Culley after one season

By The Associated Press
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HOUSTON (AP) — David Culley spent 43 years as a college and NFL assistant before finally getting his first head coaching job with the Houston Texans.

He lasted just one season before being fired Thursday, a move that leaves the NFL with one Black head coach: Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin. Miami's Brian Flores was fired this week after leading his team to a 9-8 record.

A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press the Texans fired Culley on Thursday. The person spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because the move hadn’t been announced.

His firing comes days after Houston closed out a 4-13 season with a 28-25 loss to Tennessee.

Culley said Monday he expected to return, but general manager Nick Caserio was said to still be evaluating the coach at that time. Three days later, Culley was out of a job.

The 66-year-old Culley was hired last January to replace Bill O’Brien after working as an NFL assistant since 1994. He took over a team that went 4-12 in the 2020 season with Deshaun Watson at quarterback.

Watson requested a trade around the time Culley was hired, and before 22 women filed lawsuits against the QB alleging sexual harassment or assault. Those issues kept Watson sidelined all season and precipitated a rebuild in Houston that left Culley at the helm of a depleted team.

Culley didn't have much of a chance without Watson and with a roster where most of the few remaining quality starters were traded or released as the season progressed.

Culley discussed the challenges he faced in his first season as a head coach in an interview with The AP last month.

“There’s a manual that they give you, like here’s all the things that will happen to you,” he said. “Listen, there’s been many, many things that ain’t in that manual that I’ve had to go through here that you just learn, you learn on the run.

“But the big thing is, do what you feel like is right for your team,” he continued. “And be honest with everybody. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”

In that same interview, he discussed the decades-long path that led him to the Texans and touched on his displeasure at the scarcity of minority head coaches in the NFL.

“It's just very disappointing," he said. “And very disappointing for this reason, there are so many minority coaches in this profession from all ethnicities that deserve to have that opportunity."

The New York Jets’ Robert Saleh, who is of Lebanese descent, and Washington’s Ron Rivera, who is Latino, are the only minority head coaches remaining besides Tomlin.

The Texans also fired offensive coordinator Tim Kelly on Thursday, according to the same person who confirmed Culley's dismissal. Kelly had been with the Texans in various roles since 2014 and had been the offensive coordinator since 2019.

This is the first time the Texans have fired a coach after one season. The team’s first coach, Dom Capers, spent four seasons in Houston before being fired. Gary Kubiak was hired next, and he was let go in his eighth season. The team fired O’Brien after he opened his seventh season 0-4.

Culley was hired after spending 2019-20 as assistant head coach, wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. Before coming to Houston, Culley had worked as an NFL assistant starting in 1994, also spending time with Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Buffalo. He began his career as a college assistant and spent 1991-93 at Texas A&M.

Houston beat Jacksonville in the opener before losing eight consecutive games after Tyrod Taylor was injured and rookie quarterback Davis Mills struggled to adjust to the NFL.

But the Texans played better late in the season, with two of their four wins coming in the last month, including a 41-29 victory over a Los Angeles Chargers team still in playoff contention.

The late improvement wasn’t enough to save Culley’s job. Now, the Texans face a big offseason in which they’ll have to find a new coach, will look to finally trade Watson and will have the third overall draft pick after not having a first-round pick in the last two drafts.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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