Sean Pendergast

Texans HC David Culley at Bottom Rung of NFL Coach of the Year Candidate Ladder

Not too surprising, but David Culley is forecasted to have a rough 2021 by the oddsmakers.
Not too surprising, but David Culley is forecasted to have a rough 2021 by the oddsmakers. Screen Grab from YouTube
There were seven NFL teams that anointed new head coaches during this past offseason. There was no bigger "upset special" as a head coaching hire than David Culley's getting hired by the Houston Texans to be the franchise's fourth full time head coach in the team's history. Prior to getting the Texans' head coaching gig, Culley's highest ascension in the NFL coaching universe was as a position coach for a handful of teams.

This doesn't mean Culley CAN'T be a decent head coach, but it does call into question the odds of it happening. When, at age 65, someone's prior career peak was "passing game coordinator" for Baltimore's below average passing game, it feels a little peculiar.

Vegas is not high on the Houston Texans. We've established this already several times throughout the offseason. every power ranking has them rated 32nd. Every mock draft has them picking first in the 2022 NFL Draft. So when it comes to forecasts about Culley individually, they are understandably pessimistic. The odds tell the story. Here are the Vegas odds on the first NFL head coach to be fired in 2021:

1st Coach to be Fired
Mike McCarthy 15/2
Vic Fangio 8/1
Matt Nagy 17/2
Jon Gruden 10/1
Mike Zimmer 11/1
Kliff Kingsbury 12/1
Zac Taylor 12/1
David Culley 16/1
Matt Rhule 16/1
Mike Vrabel 16/1
Matt LaFleur 20/1
Brian Flores 25/1
Frank Reich 25/1
John Harbaugh 25/1
Kyle Shanahan 25/1
Pete Carroll 25/1
Sean McVay 25/1
Sean Payton 25/1
Ron Rivera 28/1
Dan Campbell 33/1
Joe Judge 40/1
Arthur Smith 50/1
Brandon Staley 50/1
Mike Tomlin 50/1
Nick Sirianni 50/1
Robert Saleh 50/1
Urban Meyer 50/1
Kevin Stefanski 100/1
Sean McDermott 100/1
Bill Belichick 250/1
Bruce Arians 250/1
Andy Reid 500/1
Keep in mind, this was an "honor" Bill O'Brien took home in 2020, getting fired after an 0-4 start to the 2020 NFL season. For Culley, it's highly unlikely that Cal McNair and Nick Caserio would fire him, even if he were winless deep into the 2021 NFL season. They know the deal. The Houston Texans are going to be SO bad that it's actually beneficial for them to be winless this coming season, a state of affairs that would secure the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

From first to be fired to the other end of the NFL head coaching spectrum. Here are the Vegas odds on the NFL Coach of the Year Award for the upcoming season:

2021-2022 Coach of the Year
Brandon Staley 10/1
Kevin Stefanski 12/1
Sean McVay 14/1
Andy Reid 16/1
Bruce Arians 16/1
Sean McDermott 16/1
Bill Belichick 18/1
Brian Flores 18/1
John Harbaugh 18/1
Kyle Shanahan 18/1
Frank Reich 20/1
Joe Judge 20/1
Mike McCarthy 22/1
Robert Saleh 22/1
Ron Rivera 22/1
Sean Payton 22/1
Arthur Smith 25/1
Matt LaFleur 25/1
Matt Rhule 25/1
Mike Tomlin 25/1
Mike Vrabel 25/1
Pete Carroll 25/1
Kliff Kingsbury 28/1
Jon Gruden 33/1
Matt Nagy 33/1
Mike Zimmer 33/1
Nick Sirianni 33/1
Urban Meyer 33/1
Vic Fangio 33/1
Zac Taylor 33/1
Dan Campbell 50/1
David Culley 50/1 
It's completely understandable that Culley would be at the bottom of the list to win NFL Coach of the Year. There is a very good chance that he is starting a third round rookie pic at quarterback by Week 11 of the season (the week after the Texans' bye week), if not earlier. So it begs the question, given the curve that Culley should be graded on in 2021, what would he have to do to be considered for NFL Coach of the Year?

Most seasons, it is a prerequisite to win at least ten games to even be considered for the award, let alone win it. I would submit that Culley's battle is SO uphill in 2021, with no Deshaun Watson and with a roster built amidst the constraints left behind by Bill O'Brien's abysmal roster management, that if he goes 9-8 in the new 17-game season, no only should Culley win NFL Coach of the Year, but the Texans should build a statue for him in front of NRG Stadium.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast