Sean Pendergast

Where Does the Houston Texans' Head Coach Opening Stack Up Against the Others?

The McNairs feel like the Texans job has a lot to offer a prospective head coach.
The McNairs feel like the Texans job has a lot to offer a prospective head coach. Photo by Eric Sauseda
The Houston Texans' search for the sixth full time head coach in franchise history is underway. Candidates have been added to the list every day this week, ranging from huge names (Sean Payton) to obscure assistant coaches (Thomas Brown of the Rams).

Unlike the last two coaching searches the Texans conducted in 2021 and 2022, the franchise is in a much better spot this time around, in so many ways. CEO Cal McNair highlighted this in his introduction of Nick Caserio at the team's postseason press conference on Monday:

"We feel there's a strong list of potential head coach candidates, and we're excited to work with them. We're going to pick the best coach to take this team into our future with significant draft capital, salary cap space and talented young roster. Like I said, I'm excited and optimistic about what's possible moving forward on the field. I know our team has a bright future ahead."
This has been a relatively slow coaching cycle for firings and resignations. Last offseason, ten teams were saerching for new head coaches. As of Thursday afternoon, the 2023 cycle only has half that number of teams with an opening. So now that the team has draft picks, young players, and cap space, where does the Texans' opening stack up against the other four?

Let's examine. Here are my rankings of the job quality of the five openings around the league:

5. DENVER BRONCOS
GOOD: Some good pieces, mountain air, legal weed (I guess?)
BAD: Russell Wilson’s contract, traded away top pick, dealing with Mahomes

Man, this head coaching job got bad in a hurry. A year ago, they looked like the favorite to land Aaron Rodgers, which was a big reason they hired one-and-done head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Now they're a team with an aging, ineffective, annoying, and way overpaid quarterback in Russell Wilson. Whatever head coach takes this job will be tasked with fixing Wilson, and trying to deal with Patrick Mahomes for the foreseeable future. Not fun.

4. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
GOOD: Roster (when healthy) is pretty good, 4th pick in the draft, bad division
BAD: Owner is a nut job
The Colts have a decent enough roster overall, but quarterback has been the issue ever since Andrew Luck retired. The Colts have the fourth pick in the draft, so they are in position to land one of the best signal callers in this draft class. The big problem in Indy is that owner Jim Irsay has gotten quite meddlesome, and he is making erratic decisions like hiring a broadcaster to coach the team after firing Frank Reich.

3. ARIZONA CARDINALS
GOOD: 3rd pick in the draft, maybe Kyler Murray?
BAD: Complete rebuild, Kyler Murray's contract
The Cardinals have the third pick in the draft, and don't need a quarterback, so they will get an impactful player. After that, though, it's an uphill climb, with a good chance DeAndre Hopkins is traded, and Kyler Murray entering the front end of a massive contract extension that is nearly as cumbersome as Wilson's in Denver. Oh, and Murray is coming off an ACL tear.

2. CAROLINA PANTHERS
GOOD: Lots of defensive pieces, bad division
BAD: Avenue to a QB?
Carolina showed they have some good pieces in place, and guys who are willing to fight hard, as they went 6-6 after Matt Rhule was fired. They still need a quarterback, and may be picking out of range to get one of the good ones in this draft. It helps that the NFC South should be the worst division in football next season, if Tom Brady leaves the Bucs in free agency.

1. HOUSTON TEXANS
GOOD: Top pick, LOTS of picks, cap space, some young talent, Easterby is gone, bad division
BAD: Fan base is DAMAGED, still a couple years away (at least)

Yes, on paper, the Texans have the best head coach opening this go round. They have four first round picks in the next two drafts, and they have a dozen picks overall in this upcoming draft, including five of the top 75 picks. For the first time since he arrived, Nick Caserio will have plenty of salary cap room to spend in free agency. Also, Jack Easterby is out of the building, taking much of the weirdness of the last three years with him, and the Texans are in a division where the winner went 9-8 this past season. The future is bright, I swear!

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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 the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast