Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans Interview Multiple Head Coaching Candidates

NIck Caserio has embarked on his journey to  find the next Texans head coach.
NIck Caserio has embarked on his journey to find the next Texans head coach. Photo by Jack Gorman
This past weekend was an interesting one in the AFC South. For a while on Saturday night, it looked like the division's sole playoff representative, the Jacksonville Jaguars, were going to go whimpering into the night, trailing the Los Angeles chargers 27-0 in the second quarter of their super wild card round playoff game in Jacksonville.

However, in the end, the result was quite the opposite. Jags QB Trevor Lawrence recovered from a four interception first half to throw four touchdown passes in the second half, and if anything, the Jags served notice that they may be putting a stranglehold on the division for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the other three teams in the division — the Tennessee Titans, the Indianapolis Colts, and your Houston Texans — were busy revamping their coaching staffs, with Tennessee seeking permission to speak to offensive coordinator candidates, and the other two teams conducting Zoom interviews with possible head coaching candidates in an attempt to start over altogether.

Indeed, the Texans have been quite busy, requesting permission over the last week to speak to eight different candidates (with more likely to be added), and conducting actual Zoom interviews with three of them on Friday and Saturday — Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
Johnson took over the play calling reins of the Lions' offense midway through the 2021 season, and since then, they've been one of the best and most FUN offenses to watch in all of football. A former walk-on QB at North Carolina, Johnson's offense finished 5th in DVOA (a stat that measures overall efficiency) in the entire league. He would be ideal to pair with a young quarterback.
Steichen has directed the Eagles' offense to 3rd overall in DVOA, a big reason they finished with the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. More importantly, Steichen (and QB coach Brian Johnson) have overseen the evolution of second round QB Jalen Hurts from a largely run-first QB into a strong league MVP candidate. Again, like Johnson, this would be a great pairing with a young QB.
Gannon was a finalist for the Texans head coaching job last season, before it eventually went to Lovie Smith under some strange circumstances. Gannon's defense in Philly this season finished 6th in defensive DVOA, and it's possible that Gannon would bring along Eagles QB coach Brian Johnson as his OC. Johnson is from the Houston area, having played QB at Baytown Lee in high school.

The remaining candidates with whom the Texans have requested interviews are 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Rams assistant head coach Thomas Brown, and former Saints head coach Sean Payton.

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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