Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly learning from new coaches

Kelly enters his second year calling plays for Houston and he's picking the brains of a new offensive staff
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(SportsRadio 610) -- Tim Kelly is taking in the information.

The Texans' third-year offensive coordinator and second-year play caller is part of a new staff under head coach David Culley, joined by new quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton; offensive line coach James Campen; tight ends coach Andy Bischoff; wide receivers coach Robert Prince and assistant Ben McDaniels.

Until the Texans started the 2020 season 0-4 and fired their head coach, Kelly, 34, had worked exclusively with Bill O'Brien since 2012, climbing the ranks from a graduate assistant at Penn State to quality control coach for the Texans in 2014, then tight ends coach in 2017 and 2018 before claiming the coordinator title in 2019.

O'Brien said before the 2020 season he'd appoint play-calling duties to Kelly, but that much wasn't crystal clear until the coach's firing.

Now, with these new coaches -- who Culley said were brought in to take what Kelly's done and make it better -- these offseason activities present opportunities for teaching.

And it's not just the players who can learn something.

Hamilton, 46, was coaching Andrew Luck as the Colts' offensive coordinator when Kelly was at Penn State. Hamilton started his quality control work with the Jets in 2003 and has since coached quarterbacks for the Jets, 49ers, Bears, and Chargers.

Hamilton also had stints as an offensive coordinator and assistant coach at Stanford and Michigan, which are directly connected to the Texans selecting quarterback Davis Mills at No. 67 overall, and trading up for wide receiver Nico Collins in the draft last month.

Campen, who played offensive line in the NFL for seven seasons, has been an assistant since 2004. He rose from quality control to offensive line coach and run game coordinator in his years with the Packers from '04 to 2018.

Campen the past two seasons was the offensive line coach for the Browns and then the Chargers, where he worked with Hamilton.

Bischoff worked with Culley in Baltimore, where he was an offensive assistant from 2015 through last season. As the Ravens' assistant tight ends coach the past three seasons, he's credited with helping bolster one of the better running games in the league.

Prince was the Lions' wide receivers coach from 2014 through 2020, and he's already introducing new route concepts at OTAs.

"The entire has been an experienced staff," Kelly said Tuesday during a Zoom press conference from organized training activities. "Being able to kind of pick those guys' minds and talk to Pep about how he's viewed certain things or how he's done certain things in the past, and talking to (Campen) about how they've blocked certain plays and different places they've been, to the success Andy had running the ball up in Baltimore, to the success that (Prince) had developing players up in Detroit.

"It's been really good for me to continue to grow and develop, to get those different experiences and the different opinions in the room. Again, always trying to find different ways to improve our offense and put as many points on the board as possible."

The Texans were eighth in passing DVOA, which measures efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. But the running game was the league's worst.

Kelly said it's on him to call more running plays, but the key improvements are going to be needed on the offensive line and in the running back room.

With former Seahawk Justin Britt, the Texans have a player who was one of the best centers in the game before tearing his ACL in 2019, and wants more than anything to run block.

There are questions at the guard positions, with Zach Fulton out and the possibility of former first-round pick Tytus Howard bumping inside after playing at right tackle for most of his first two seasons.

The Texans traded this offseason for Marcus Cannon, who opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19, but could be the team's new right tackle.

At running back, the Texans signed Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead and restructured David Johnson's deal.

Adding depth and experience should help a running back group that was thin last year when either Johnson or Duke Johnson would get injured.

Of course, the biggest difference in this year's offense is not having Deshaun Watson, the NFL passing leader who's seemingly at an impasse with the team after requesting a trade. Watson's also under NFL investigation after more than 20 women accused him of sexual misconduct, ranging from indecency to harassment to assault.

Kelly, for whom Watson last advocated at the end of a miserable 4-12 season, said he could not comment on the quarterback's absence from team activities.

And at this point, everyone knows the deal.

Kelly’s his own man now. No O’Brien, no Watson.

Just last year's experience as a first-time play caller and the wisdom of his new coworkers.