GM: Fired Culley put Texans in ‘better position’

NFL

HOUSTON — One day after firing coach David Culley following one season in Houston, Texans general manager Nick Caserio said he thinks the organization is in a better place than it was a year ago.

“I would say when you rewind here and go back to a year ago … I’d say the organization was in a pretty rough spot, and I think from where we were then to where we are now, we’re in a lot better position,” Caserio said Friday. “And quite frankly, I think that’s because of the leadership and the guidance and the direction that David Culley brought in this football team.”

Caserio said in a statement Thursday that he made the decision to fire Culley because he and the coach “had philosophical differences over the long-term direction and vision for our program moving forward.” On Friday, Caserio declined to go into specifics about those differences but said they had to do with “next steps or how we move forward, not necessarily rearview mirror about what has happened.”

“In the end, this is my decision,” Caserio said. “This was something that I felt we needed to do that was in the best interest of the organization.”

The Texans went 4-13 this season, matching their win total from a year ago when the roster looked drastically different. Culley’s Texans did not have quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior and requested a trade a year ago, or defensive end J.J. Watt, who asked for his release during the offseason.

Caserio pointed to the Texans’ “asset allocation,” “salary-cap structure” and “players in the building to external opportunities that might be available for us in free agency” for why he feels positive about the team’s direction. The Texans also have the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft after going three of four seasons without a first-round pick.

The general manager said he does not have a specific timeline in mind to hire a head coach but said, “We’re going to be very deliberate with this process.” Asked what qualities he was looking for in a coach, Caserio said, “Honestly, I’d say a lot of the qualities that David possessed. Those aren’t necessarily going to change.”

“The most important thing is finding the best fit for this organization,” Caserio said. “… I think we’re going to be very thorough and just try to make the best decision for this organization, whatever that entails.”

Caserio will also have to address Watson’s status this offseason.

On Friday, Caserio said that he doesn’t think “there’s any more clarity today than there was here previously” regarding Watson. The Texans spoke to the Miami Dolphins at the trade deadline but could not reach a deal, in part because of the lawsuits filed against Watson. While a trade could be agreed to before the start of the NFL’s new league year on March 16, it could not be made official until then.

“We’re going to work through it, and ultimately we’re going to do what we feel is best for the organization,” Caserio said.

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