(SportsRadio 610) - Texans general manager Nick Caserio acknowledged the team is better for having David Culley as their head coach in 2021.
The attitude and belief in what the Texans are trying to build was implemented in a 4-13 season, filled with underperformance and flashes of overachievement.
In reflecting on the season, Caserio said Friday that disconnect with Culley was more about how to fix their problems going forward, rather what went wrong in the past.
There was a report from the NFL Network on Thursday saying Culley's insistence on keeping Tim Kelly as offensive coordinator was part of his downfall, though it does not appear the coach hired his own staff, and Kelly was a holdover from the previous regime.
Nevertheless, Caserio emphasized a willingness to change and adapt as part of where he and Culley did not share the same vision.
"I think, just generally speaking, when you evaluate a team or go through an operation or an organization, you always have to be sort of open minded to change," Caserio said. "At least entertaining change, not necessarily change just to change, but there has to be an impetus to change. Just if we move it over to a football perspective, look, our results are what the results are. There were certain areas, quite frankly, were we didn’t perform very well over the course multiple weeks. It wasn’t as if it was one week or one game. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, it’s about facing problems and finding solutions, and we need to do a better job of that, I need to do a better job of that. It’s not necessarily one specific thing.
"I think in the end, there was some differences about next steps or how we move forward, not necessarily rear-view mirror about what has happened."
Still, Caserio was complimentary of both Culley and Kelly, both of whom were fired from their respective positions Thursday.
Culley, now 66, had been a position coach in the NFL since 1994. But he was never a coordinator, nor had he interviewed for an NFL head coaching job prior to the Texans last year.
"Very consistent day-to-day," Caserio said of Culley. "I think when you look at the way we played and the effort and I would say the toughness, the consistency and competitive spirit that I would say we played with, forget about the execution and the X’s and O’s, I’d say a lot of the should be attributed to David and his attitude and mindset. So, that hadn’t changed from the day he walked in the door to the minute I met with him directly.
"Again, I think philosophically there were some things in the end that maybe we saw a little bit differently. So, that was really the impetus for the decision that was made."
The Texans' offense at times was the worst across the board in 2021. They finished the season ranked last in rush DVOA, which measures efficiency, and 29th in pass DVOA.
Caserio said he respects Kelly as a coach, but felt a change needed to be made based on performance.
"I think it’s about production," Caserio said. "Offensively, we did some good things. When you look at some of the things that Davis (Mills) was able to do, I would say the production of the quarterback is a reflection of the coaches that put him in a position to be successful. I think there’s some areas, quite frankly, that we need to improve and we need to get better. I have a lot of respect for Tim, I think Tim is a really good coach. I think in the end we just felt that was one of the things that we needed to do, that we should do in terms of our next step moving forward in this organization."
Caserio was asked about the assumption the Texans are going to hire someone with Patriots ties to fill the position. Brian Flores, a former assistant, and Jerod Mayo, a current Patriots assistant, are rumored as top candidates for the Texans.
Flores was just fired earlier this week by the Miami Dolphins after back-to-back winning seasons, but failing to reach the playoffs in his time there.
Caserio said not to assume anything. He said other coaches' availability did not impact the decision to move on from Culley.
"Those are independent entities," Caserio said. "I don’t think you make said decision based on all of a sudden something that has changed or something is different. I think you have to first start with your situation, evaluate it, make an honest assessment, make the decision and then if that so happens to be in conjunction with other things that happen in the league, that’s out of our control, out of my control. That’s really not the criteria to which, the lens through which you make those decisions.
"You have to look at everything as an independent entity. We’re taking the information here about the Houston Texans, where we are – rear view mirror here are things that happened, moving forward what’s ahead, what’s the best thing for us and that’s what we did."