Expectations are demonstrably low for pro football in Houston
The hometown Texans are currently tied with the Detroit Lions for the worst Super Bowl odds in 2021, with Vegas offering +20,000 on Houston to somehow take home the Lombardi Trophy. Many power rankings have the Texans firmly in last place, 32nd overall, when discussing the hierarchy of the league.
In just 18 months the perception of the Texans franchise has warped into a total disaster. Franchise cornerstone J.J. Watt was granted a release and departed to play with former Texans’ star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona. Meanwhile, the situation around what many considered the present and future of the Texans, Deshaun Watson, could not be any messier.
The biggest loser in all this? The fans.
National media coverage is either extremely pessimistic, dismissive, or hawk-eyed on Watson. Speaking of, the once franchise quarterback has become indefensible off the field and everyday his silence on his situation with the front office becomes more and more frustrating. It sometimes appears as if the other 52 men on the roster don’t matter in what’s being written off as a ‘lost season.’
The roster has some excellent veterans returning such as Zach Cunningham, Brandin Cooks, and Justin Reid in addition to a some exciting new faces like Phillip Lindsay, Desmond King and rookie Nico Collins. However, only one thing appears to be shining through the black hole that has become the Texans’ 2021 offseason.
Enter coach David Culley, acomplete 180 from what we’ve seen from the Texans’ coaching brass in years past.
Where Bill O’Brien was cold, Culley feels warm. Where O’Brien offered curt responses, Culley is quick to jump into a story. For a hiring that many, including this author, have criticized as underwhelming, Culley represents a warm light in the Texans’ current turmoil.
Every press conference has been the equivalent of watching your grandfather at Thanksgiving. One just can’t help but smile. Whether it’s the energetic way he discusses players or stories that go far beyond on the scope of what the reporter was looking for, something is different this year at Texans camp.
When fans are at #Texans camp Head Coach David Culley takes a few minutes out of his busy schedule to speak with them: “We’re gonna get to the point where we’re gonna be the kind of team that u want us to be & need us to be&having u here today will allow us to be able to do that” pic.twitter.com/YKSPWMEDFS
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 2, 2021
It’s also not just hot cocoa and bedtime stories from the new head coach. During Saturday’s scrimmage Culley showed everyone a different side when he absolutely lit up Chris Conley and other offensive players for off-sides penalties. A culture of competition and accountability is being preached to both the locker room and the fans.
It’s been a tumultuous year on Kirby Drive and more than ever the Texans have simply needed a steady hand amongst the chaos. Culley has brought years of experience and the perfect personality to do that. People may have mocked that he’d been in the league since 1994 and failed so secure a head coaching gig in any of the previous quarter-decade.
It doesn’t matter.
Culley is making the Texans’ franchise one that is suddenly very, very easy to cheer for again. His intimate familiarity with coaching and experience from Kansas City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia is making an undeniable impact on the team. Who would want to see this guy fail?
Crazy story. As a player at Missouri Western St #Texans Jonathan Owens cleaned David Culley’s room at Chiefs training camp. Owens got to stay free in the dorms for the work. pic.twitter.com/liTheQIFEc
— Greg Bailey (@GregBailey13) August 5, 2021
Granted, as many opponents of the hiring would still argue, his dancing around the Watson spectacle has been interesting to say the least. However, that’s forgivable in the context of an impossible to navigate football & legal firestorm. Culley has been hired to coach the Texans, not just Watson, and he’s reminded the media time and time again.
#Texans head coach David Culley on progress from rookies Davis Mills and Nico Collins.
— SportsRadio 610 (@SportsRadio610) August 2, 2021
Give the man a break.
We’re yet to see how that will translate on the football field, the 2021 Texans haven’t so much as played a pre-season snap yet. However the early reports sound promising of a freshly invigorated defense and an improved, O’Brien-less, offensive scheme. This is what a regular off-season is supposed to be about: Hope, optimism, and excitement about a new year.
Culley’s personality is bringing that back to the Texans’. Whether it’s with or without No. 4 on the field, Houston will be cheering for their underdog coach in 2021.
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