The final open head coaching position in the NFL was filled on Wednesday, and it had to be conflicting for Andy Reid.
Taking the Houston Texans job was David Culley, the associate head coach, passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Culley’s career as an NFL assistant goes back nearly three decades, the majority of which were spent working under Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
Not taking the Texans job, or any other job, was Eric Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. Bieniemy has worked under Reid for the last eight seasons, with three seasons as the coordinator of the NFL’s most feared offense.
Culley and Bieniemy didn’t exactly go head-to-head for the Texans job. Bieniemy wasn’t among the three coaches to get a second interview in Houston, and he seemed to only get his first interview after Deshaun Watson aired his grievances about the team’s hiring practices. Culley’s hire did, however, ensure that Bieniemy will not be an NFL head coach next season barring a shocking development elsewhere.
When asked about that development, Reid was openly disappointed as his Chiefs team prepared for Super Bowl LV:
"I'm glad I have him [for at least another season], but I'm not so glad I have him,'' Reid said Thursday after the Chiefs began practice for Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "I was really hoping he would have an opportunity to take one of these jobs. You guys know what I think of him. I think he's great. I think he would be great for any number of teams that opened up and help them win football games and also develop men into men. I just think he's a great person."
In the same news conference, Reid also spoke highly of Culley and their time together:
"David will do a good job,'' Reid said. "He's a people person. He'll bring energy to the building. One of the most loyal guys I've ever been around. He's a great person. We were together 18 years. We had a few cheeseburgers together.''
Reid’s praise for Culley echoes what nearly everyone near the longtime assistant has said about him, but it seems unlikely his endorsement will alter the perception that the Texans don’t know what they’re doing.
Did the Texans hire the wrong Andy Reid disciple?
If you only evaluate coaching candidates on paper, it’s not hard to understand why some are perplexed that Culley is the Andy Reid assistant getting a head coaching job this offseason.
Bieniemy’s experience coordinating the strongest unit of a potential two-time Super Bowl champion makes him football’s obvious head-coaching candidate. There is no type of assistant more alluring for teams than an up-and-coming offensive coordinator.
Meanwhile, Culley’s resume almost seems destined to become a copypasta for Texans haters. The passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach for the team with the least productive passing game and wide receivers in the NFL. Josh Allen’s quarterbacks coach when Josh Allen was still a punchline for some. The Chiefs’ wide receivers coach when Chiefs wide receivers went an entire season without a touchdown. 65 years old, the oldest first-time head coach in NFL history.
Of course, there is so much more to being a successful head coach than coordinator experience and unit production. Early reviews for Culley indicate those facets are where he shines, but they’re also hard to use when defending a Texans brass that has thoroughly bungled their decision-making recently.
The Texans are only one of several teams that have passed over Bieniemy over the last two years, but being the last team to do it and bringing in an out-there candidate like Culley was always going to invite scrutiny. Time will tell if hiring Culley was a shrewd move — it didn’t do much to convince Watson to stay — but we’re unfortunately going to have to wait even longer to see how Bieniemy does as a head coach.
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