Texans Rumors

Texans Deny Tim Kelly Interview Requests

The Texans have denied interview requests from teams interested in offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tim Kelly (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). The Texans have yet to hire their next head coach, but they seem intent on keeping Kelly as a part of their staff.

Kelly, who will turn 35 this offseason, has spent the last two years as the Texans’ offensive coordinator. Bill O’Brien called the plays in Kelly’s first year with Houston. Last year, he ceded the headset to Kelly.

Deshaun Watson, who has lobbied for more control over the team’s hiring decisions, has been one of Kelly’s biggest advocates.

Tim over the past two years has really taken my game to a whole another level as far as just knowledge, reading defenses, understanding run points and run schemes, understanding the way of different concepts and different situations,” said Watson. “His knowledge of just the game of football is very, very bright and he really helped me take my game, especially this year, the best football I’ve played in my career.

With Kelly in command, Watson threw for a league-high 4,823 yards with 33 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. It sounds like Kelly will continue to serve as Watson’s guru in 2021.

Teams Inquiring On Deshaun Watson, Texans Not Budging Yet

As the Deshaun Watson drama with the Texans continues to unfold, the league’s other 31 teams are surely paying close attention. There have been increasing reports that the two sides could be headed for divorce, as we heard over the weekend that many in Houston’s building believe Watson has played his last snap for the team. 

We’re still in the very early stages, but it sounds like teams are beginning to circle in anticipation of a potential frenzy. Teams have already begun calling the Texans and inquiring about Watson, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (Twitter video link). As Rapoport cautions, the Texans still haven’t budged or shown a willingness to engage in talks yet, and he also notes that Watson still hasn’t formally requested a trade.

Interestingly, Rapoport says to “keep an eye on” the Panthers in the event that Watson becomes available. He highlights new owner David Tepper’s bold approach, as well as the failure of Teddy Bridgewater to establish himself as the franchise guy this season. That would be a huge splash from Matt Rhule, and Rapsheet says if it reaches the point where the Texans shop Watson then Carolina should not be discounted.

It’s not surprising that teams are already making exploratory calls, and if Houston really does decide to trade Watson it could take a while for things to get sorted out because of the size of the package that would need to be coming back.

If Watson were to be dealt, it would take multiple first-round picks and likely solid players as well, at a minimum. We’ll keep you posted as we hear more on this ever-evolving situation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Updated 2021 NFL Draft Order

With the Divisional Round in the books, the 2021 NFL Draft order is mostly complete. The Rams, Browns, Ravens, and Saints now have their draft spots locked in, though the Rams’ first-round pick belongs to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. The Rams traded those rights to Jacksonville as a part of the Jalen Ramsey blockbuster.

Here’s the updated draft order, through the top 28:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints

Texans Interviewing Eric Bieniemy

The Texans will conduct a virtual interview with Eric Bieniemy on Monday, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Ordinarily, assistants in the midst of the playoffs are not allowed to interview. However, Bieniemy has been given the green light by KC and the league office.

Deshaun Watson has been pushing the Texans to consider Bieniemy for the head coaching vacancy. However, the Texans didn’t reach out to the Chiefs offensive coordinator until just last week. At this point, it’s not clear if Bieniemy is a real candidate for the job, or if owner Cal McNair is just looking to mollify his star quarterback.

Watson wanted to be involved in the GM search, but he was kept out of the loop throughout the process. He learned about Nick Caserio‘s hiring at the same time as everyone else, and he wasn’t happy about it. On the plus side, Watson doesn’t have any problems with Caserio — his beef is with McNair & Co. and their lack of communication.

Here’s the rundown of the Texans’ HC search, via PFR’s tracker:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Deshaun Watson, Texans

Things could be coming to a head with Deshaun Watson and the Texans. After a couple of weeks of drama, there is now “a growing sense from people in and around the Texans’ organization” that Watson “has played his last snap for the team,” Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

It felt impossible to believe when trade chatter about Watson first started, but it now seems like there’s a real chance Watson is dealt before the 2021 season. In case there was any doubt about the dysfunction within the building, Schefter said in a separate tweet that a source told him “it’s gone from the least desirable head coaching job (opening) to the most undesirable head coaching job in the NFL. That’s a fact. That’s how that job is now looked at by everybody.”

It’s a pretty grim state of affairs in Houston right now. It looks like Houston’s management, led by owner Cal McNair and recently hired GM Nick Caserio, could opt for a full-blown rebuild, trading Watson for a bounty of draft picks to restock the cupboard that was left bare by former coach/GM Bill O’Brien.

All of that being said, it’s still far from guaranteed that the team has given up on mending the relationship. One source of tension between the two sides was the team leaving Watson out of the search process for coach and GM after previously promising him input. There had been reports that Watson favored Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, but the team only opted to put in an interview request for Bieniemy recently, leading many to decry it as too little too late and merely an attempt to pacify Watson.

But Caserio has apparently done “thorough homework” on Bieniemy, sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who adds that it’s “not an empty interview request by any stretch.” Fowler also calls Bieniemy “firmly in the mix” for the job, so it sounds like he’s got a legit shot. By the sound of Schefter’s tweet, if the Texans and Watson are headed for divorce, it might be hard for them to convince any top candidate to leave their respective coordinator post.

If Watson really does become available, there will be no shortage of suitors. It’d likely take a king’s ransom to pry him loose, so teams like the Jets and Dolphins with an abundance of draft capital would immediately become favorites. We’ll surely hear a lot more about this situation in the coming days and weeks, and we’ll keep you posted every step of the way.

Texans Interview Matt Eberflus For HC

Colts DC Matt Eberflus has reversed course. After he initially turned down the Texans’ request for a head coaching interview, Eberflus did indeed meet with Houston brass, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). That interview took place yesterday.

Typically, a team with a quarterback like Deshaun Watson is an ideal landing spot for a new head coach. But reports of Watson’s disenchantment with the Texans have been a major part of the NFL news cycle in recent weeks, and questions about the competence of team ownership have also been raised. Combined with the fact that Houston is currently without a first- or second-round selection in this year’s draft, those troubles indicate that the Texans’ HC post is not particularly desirable.

On the other hand, Houston also appears to be Eberflus’ last chance to get a head coaching job this cycle. He took interviews with the Chargers and Jets, but Los Angeles appears to be favoring Bills OC Brian Daboll, and New York has already hired 49ers DC Robert Saleh. And given that a top HC candidate one year might be completely off the radar the next, Eberflus could be trying to strike while the iron is hot.

The Colts’ defense has become one of the league’s top units under Eberflus’ watch, and since Houston’s incumbent offensive coordinator, Tim Kelly, is a favorite of Watson’s, adding a defensive-minded HC who is willing to keep Kelly aboard might make the most sense. Bills DC Leslie Frazier and Rams DC Brandon Staley are also on the Texans’ radar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Leslie Frazier Texans Hire Gaining Steam?

Although the Texans changed course and submitted a request to speak with Bieniemy, as they deal with a disgruntled Deshaun WatsonCBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora notes that interview is doubtful to commence. With the Chiefs’ bye week over, any team wishing to meet with Bieniemy going forward must wait until Kansas City’s season ends. If the No. 1-seeded Chiefs make it back to the Super Bowl, the remaining jobs may be filled by then. Three teams have filled their positions; the Lions are soon expected to hire Saints assistant Dan Campbell; the Chargers may be zeroing in on Bills third-year OC Brian Daboll. This would leave only the Houston and Philadelphia jobs available. Though Bieniemy not being his team’s primary play-caller makes him an atypical HC candidate from the offensive side of the ball, it would certainly be strange if he exited another offseason without landing a coaching gig.

  • Staying with the Texans, they will interview another Bills coordinator this weekend. They will speak with Buffalo DC Leslie Frazier on Sunday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Frazier, who has been Buffalo’s defensive play-caller, has re-emerged on the HC radar after four seasons as Buffalo’s DC under Sean McDermott. Support is building for Frazier with the Texans, La Canfora notes. Since the Vikings ended Frazier’s three-plus-year run as their head coach after the 2013 season, he has been a coordinator for two teams (the Bucs and Bills) and coached the Ravens secondary in between.

Cal McNair On Watson, Caserio, HC Search

The Texans have faced scrutiny from several angles over the past two years. While Bill O’Brien bore the brunt of the criticism, the organization has continued to encounter issues since O’Brien’s dismissal.

CEO Cal McNair made another attempt to address concerns Friday. McNair said he has texted with Deshaun Watson since it became public the quarterback was unhappy. Watson expressed disappointment the Texans did not keep him fully in the loop regarding their decision to hire Nick Caserio as general manager, and McNair confirmed the franchise QB will have input regarding the next Texans head coach.

That’s the intent. We want him in the loop and part of the process,” McNair said, via Fox 26’s Mark Berman. “Deshaun and I connected over texts since he’s returned from vacation, and I believe in dealing with the personnel issues directly with the players — but in conjunction with our general manager. Deshaun, it’s no secret that he’s disappointed in the communication during the [GM] hiring process.

Following Caserio’s lead, McNair said he has no desire to trade Watson. The four-year veteran has been connected to a potential trade request, despite signing a $39MM-per-year extension last summer, shortly after the reports of his dissatisfaction surfaced. Watson is believed to be far more upset about recent Texans events than he was when the team traded DeAndre Hopkins without informing him of the decision.

He’s our quarterback,” McNair said. “I’ve liked Deshaun and watched him since he played at Clemson. I’ve believed in him and his leadership in (winning a) championship in college, and I think he can lead our team to championships here. 

We went to the second round of the playoffs and he was a good leader. This year, the flip side of the coin, our record wasn’t nearly as good, but he was still the same great leader. We believe in him. My mom loves him. He’s a great person. He’s a Texan.”

Watson has made it known he was a fan of Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who was initially left out of Houston’s HC interview requests. But the Texans have since requested a meeting with the third-year OC. McNair said this delay was related to Caserio taking over the search process. The Texans have been connected to several names, but hiring the longtime Patriots exec caused an understandable delay in their search process. Due to the Texans waiting until after the Chiefs’ bye week to submit a Bieniemy interview request, they will be unable to meet with him until after Kansas City’s season concludes.

We were waiting on Nick’s list of coaching candidates,” McNair said. “Nick added him to the list. Other candidates had been recommended. Like all the candidates, they are Nick’s and my choices.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (4:30pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Texans Request Brandon Staley Interview

The Texans are hoping to speak with Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. Now led by GM Nick Caserio, the team sent the first-year DC an interview request, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Staley has met with the Chargers and Jets about their HC position. He is not permitted to meet with teams in person until the Rams’ season concludes. The Rams face the Packers on Saturday afternoon.

Rising from Broncos outside linebackers coach to a head coaching role in a two-year span would represent a remarkable rise from Staley, 38, but Wade Phillips‘ successor has helped the Rams reassemble a dominant defense. The versatile Aaron Donald– and Jalen Ramsey-powered unit ranks first in weighted DVOA, after the group slowed Russell Wilson considerably in a one-sided divisional-round win.

The Texans have not hired a defensively oriented head coach since the first HC in franchise history, Dom Capers, who held the job from 2002-05. Thanks in part to previous HC Bill O’Brien‘s GM work, the Texans have a host of needs on defense after the unit ranked 31st in DVOA this season. Staley and Leslie Frazier represent the team’s defensive candidates to this point. Colts DC Matt Eberflus turned down a Houston interview.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.