Politics

Very Well, I Shall Coach the Houston Texans – Texas Monthly

No organization in professional sports has been more baffling or dysfunctional over the past two years than the NFL’s Houston Texans. After spending most of the 2010s as a perennial playoff contender, with six postseason appearances in ten years, things got weird. They started losing, for one, and then fired former head coach Bill O’Brien four weeks into the 2020 season. The team’s brightest star, quarterback Deshaun Watson, refused to play—and then, after becoming the subject of more than twenty sexual assault and harassment allegations, he became untradable. Longtime face of the franchise J. J. Watt was cut—not an unusual move for an aging star on a struggling team, but a bummer for fans seeking any reason to continue cheering. And the organization’s power structure grew increasingly bizarre, with sports chaplain Jack Easterby ascending to the top of the org chart in a move that was easier to compare to Game of Thrones than to any other situation in contemporary American sports. (Easterby is Littlefinger, according to Sports Illustrated.) 

This combination of circumstances made the Texans job one of the least desirable for NFL coaches following the 2020 season; in the end, then 65-year-old first-time head coach David Culley, who’d never even served as an NFL offensive or defensive coordinator, wound up with the job. And now, after a single season—one during which the Texans won four games, matching their 2020 total, and this time without Watson—Culley has been fired.

Why? Who can say! He certainly did not underperform, considering that the Texans’ expectations were as low as possible. Winning four games with a depleted roster, dysfunctional management, and the quarterback combination of journeyman Tyrod Taylor and rookie third-round pick Davis Mills is pretty impressive! And yet: Culley is gone, and the Texans need a head coach. Given that Tom Landry himself would have been fortunate to do better than Culley with this team, the firing makes the Texans an even less desirable destination on the coaching market than they were last year. 

Who wants to pour their heart and soul into making Davis friggin’ Mills into a capable NFL starter, win two of the last four games, be as successful as can realistically be expected, and still end up out of work after just one year?

Me! I’ll do it. 

Someone will have to coach the Houston Texans, and elsewhere in the league, there are opportunities to lead the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and—potentially—the Las Vegas Raiders. Will the hottest names in the coaching business choose Houston over any of those jobs? Not likely. Would I? You betcha! Sure, I have no experience as a coordinator on either side of the ball, but neither did Houston’s last head coach, and I think I would have fun in a leadership role at a major pro sports franchise! 

Here’s my case: I watch a lot of football. Sometimes, I figure out whatever minute strategic adjustment Tony Romo is going to explain on CBS before he even does it. I’ve taken a Madden NFL franchise to twenty seasons (I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a pandemic) and won several Super Bowls that way. As I reconsider my life’s priorities, I’ve decided that I am open to becoming a smiling yes-man for the right opportunity, which I believe would come in handy if I were coach of the Texans. Like Easterby, I have literally no football background, but I can only see that as an asset: the team’s executive vice president of football operations should have no reason to see me as a threat. This franchise just needs someone willing to take on arguably the worst job in sports, and at this moment in my life, I’m ready to accept that burden. 

Why do I want the job? A few reasons: First, I love sports, but I can’t imagine putting in the unbelievably long hours that the most successful coaches put in year after year—with the Texans, I’ll be a very short-term hire, doomed to failure, just a sacrificial lamb who can make the 2023 coaching search easier by allowing my prospective replacements a chance to burnish their resumes by rebuilding the Texans after the disastrous Solomon era! After I’m fired, I’ll be able to enjoy a more leisurely pace of life. Second, it has been a very weird past couple of years, and coaching the Texans would at least be exciting. Finally, I would very much like to earn an NFL head coach’s salary. 

The Texans aren’t the first Houston sports franchise to end up stuck in the mud in recent years. The Astros, just two short years ago, were an enormous question mark who only managed to pull themselves out of their mess by hiring one of the most respected old-timers in sports and transforming the culture of the organization. I’m not saying I can be a Dusty Baker–like figure for the Texans—surely I cannot! But, if I may be so bold, I believe I could be precisely the kind of worst-case scenario that eventually forces whoever actually runs the Texans—whether it’s Easterby, owner Cal McNair, general manager Nick Caserio, or the organization’s analogue to Jon Snow—to do whatever it takes to find the right head coach. In this way, I volunteer to save the Texans franchise and lead the organization to redemption. 

Houston, you’re welcome.

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