While several teams such as the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears welcomed Black Monday with a ferocious amount of “excitement,” the Houston Texans continue to take their time while evaluating the fate and future of head coach David Culley. General manager Nick Caserio continues to analyze the situation with great detail, and reports on Tuesday afternoon indicated the process remains fluid, ongoing, and ever-changing with a resolution expected by the end of the week. Should Caserio and the Texans evaluate Culley solely based on his job performance throughout the 2021 season, then the decision should be rather straightforward. Culley absolutely deserves to retain his job. The 66-year-old Culley walked into a haphazard situation when he agreed on a five-year contract to become the fourth head coach in Texans history. Expectations were non-existent as many analysts forecasted a last-place finish for the Texans, with some going as far as predicting the league's first-ever 0-17 season. Culley blew those expectations and projections out of the water. While winning four games is hardly impressive on the surface, Culley's Texans routinely played hard for their leader. The 2021 Texans took on the scrappy, never-give-up personality and mentality of their coach and found themselves competing in more contests than most forecasted. No example is greater than what the Texans put on tape in their meaningless regular-season Week 18 finale against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans entered with plenty to play for as they were attempting to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Texans? They simply had to go through the motions like so many teams in similar positions have done in the past. The Titans jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime, but Culley's Texans never got discouraged. They mounted an impressive comeback that resulted in a respectable three-point loss. That type of fight against a much more talented opponent captures Culley's first season in a nutshell. The on and off-field situation surrounding franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson essentially set Culley up for failure right out of the gate. To make matters worse at the position, veteran starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a multi-week injury in Week 2, an unfortunate occurrence that thrust third-round rookie quarterback Davis Mills into the limelight much earlier than anyone in Houston expected or was prepared for. Culley responded by getting Mills prepared to be their starter. By the end of the season, Mills put together a rather impressive rookie campaign all things considered. Mills showcased a tremendous amount of growth under the watchful eye of Culley and underrated offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. Mills is now viewed as a legitimate candidate to serve as Houston's starter for the 2022 season. It's an unexpected development, but yet another metaphorical tip of the cap for the job done by Culley. Culley's debut season as a head coach wasn't perfect. The Texans were embarrassingly shut out in two especially lopsided contests (40-0 by the Bills and 31-0 by the Colts) and scored nine or fewer points in five additional matches. It was the representation of a 53-man roster that is largely devoid of talent and was smashed together by what felt like a record-breaking amount of one-year contracts for aging, past-their-prime veterans such as Rex Burkhead and Danny Amendola. Culley made several questionable in-game decisions as well, both from a play-calling and clock management perspective. But Culley undeniably surpassed any realistic expectations that were placed upon him in July and August. Life gave him rotten lemons and he made the tastiest lemonade imaginable. For that alone he deserves a second season.
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