In Culley’s first and only season with the Texans, they finished with a 4-13 record and wrapped up the year with a 28-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans. On Monday, Culley said he expected to return, but general manager Nick Caserio said he was evaluating Culley and ultimately made the decision to move on from him.
This is the first time the Texans have fired a coach after just one season.
The Texans also fired offensive coordinator Tim Kelly Thursday.
Houston Texans head coach David Culley reacts to a play against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Highmark Stadium in October 2021. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)
“Earlier today, I met with David Culley and Tim Kelly to inform them we will be moving in a different direction at the head coach and offensive coordinator positions,” Caserio said in a statement. “I came to this difficult but necessary decision after reviewing our football operation. While a change after one season is unusual, we had philosophical differences over the long-term direction and vision for our program moving forward. We appreciate Coach Culley for helping us navigate through a difficult season, but it is my responsibility to make decisions that I feel are best for our organization. The search for the next coach of the Houston Texans will begin immediately.”
The Texans owe Culley another $17 million over the next three years, according to the NFL Network. Culley will make roughly $22 million for one season as Houston’s head coach.
Culley was hired last January to replace Bill O’Brien. In 2020, the Texans finished with a 4-12 record with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. The team parted ways with O’Brien after he opened his seventh season 0-4.
Justin Reid (20) of the Houston Texans reacts after missing an interception during the first half against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium Oct. 10, 2021, in Houston. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
“We are grateful for the energy and passion David brought to our organization throughout last season,” Texans chairman and chief executive officer Cal McNair said in a statement. “We wish him, his wife Carolyn and their entire family nothing but the best moving forward. I have entrusted Nick Caserio to lead football performance and I have complete confidence he will find the best leader for our team. These decisions are difficult, but Nick believed it was necessary for the future of our organization. We look forward to continuing to build our roster and finding the right coach to lead us forward.”
Culley was hired after spending 2019-2020 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 since 1994, 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 its 2021 opener before losing eight consecutive games after Tyrod Taylor was injured and rookie quarterback Davis Mills struggled to adjust to the NFL.
Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) throws the ball during warmups before a game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium Sept. 19, 2021, in Cleveland. (Scott Galvin/USA TODAY Sports)
But the Texans played better late in the season, with two of their four wins coming in the last month of the season, highlighted by a 41-29 victory over a Los Angeles Chargers team that reached the playoffs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.