HOUSTON — The Texans have fired head coach David Culley, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly also was fired, a source told Schefter.
On Sunday, after the Texans completed a 4-13 season, Culley said he expected to return for a second season. However, the Texans’ ownership and front office took the past few days to evaluate the coach and decided to fire him on Thursday.
The firing comes one year after the Texans hired Culley, a longtime assistant, who became the oldest first-time NFL head coach at age 65. Culley, hired in January 2021 by team CEO and chairman Cal McNair and general manager Nick Caserio, was the lone Black coach hired last offseason and was one of three Black coaches in the NFL. Culley’s firing leaves the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as the NFL’s only current Black head coach.
Before being hired in Houston, Culley spent two seasons as the Baltimore Ravens’ assistant head coach, passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. Culley spent 43 years as an assistant in college football and the NFL.
In Culley’s first season as a head coach, the Texans won the same number of games as they did the previous season under interim coach Romeo Crennel. Culley did it with a depleted roster and team that has had just one first-round pick in the last four years.
Houston was without quarterback Deshaun Watson, who requested a trade in January after the McNair family hired Caserio. Less than two months later, the first of 23 lawsuits were filed against Watson alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. Watson, who still faces 22 active lawsuits, reported to training camp and was on the active roster all season. The quarterback was a healthy scratch for each game.
The 2021 Texans were also without defensive end J.J. Watt, who requested to be released after the 2020 season and now plays for the Arizona Cardinals.
This season, the Texans dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season opener before losing veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor in Week 2 with a left hamstring injury. He was replaced by 2021 third-round pick Davis Mills, who went 0-6 in his six starts while Taylor was on injured reserve.
After Taylor struggled in his return from injured reserve, he was benched for Mills, who beat the Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers in consecutive weeks.
Houston’s offense ranked 31st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA under Culley and Kelly. The Texans were outscored by 172 points, the largest points differential in franchise history, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information.
The Texans’ 13 losses were the franchise’s most in a single season since 2013.