Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans Down To Three Finalists For New Head Coach

Brian Flores would be a very popular head coaching choice with Texans fans.
Brian Flores would be a very popular head coaching choice with Texans fans. Screen grab from YouTube
The Houston Texans' search for the fifth head coach in franchise history appears to be winding down, as the team announced on their Twitter feed yesterday that they had "completed discussions" with three of the candidates who had received first interviews:
All you need to do is follow national NFL reporters to know that "discussions" is code for "second interviews," so it's fair to assume that Flores, Gannon, and McCown probably comprise the totality of the finalists list. So let's level-set where we are, and handicap the favorite for what could be a monumental (and possibly controversial) hire for the Texans.

BRIAN FLORES

MOST RECENT EXPERIENCE: Miami Dolphins head coach (2019-2021, fired 1/10/22)

RESUME:

As a coach:
New England Patriots (2008–2009)
Special teams assistant

New England Patriots (2010)
Assistant offense & special teams coach

New England Patriots (2011)
Defensive assistant

New England Patriots (2012–2015)
Safeties coach

New England Patriots (2016–2018)
Linebackers coach

Miami Dolphins (2019–2021)
Head coach

As an executive:
New England Patriots (2004–2005)
Scouting assistant

New England Patriots (2006–2007)
Pro scout

POPULARITY WITH TEXAN FANS:
PROS:  Flores is the only candidate with head coaching experience, and it's actually respectable head coaching experience. While he didn't make the playoffs in Miami, he did overachieve each season there, as compared to preseason win total expectations. Also, he is EASILY the most popular of any of the candidates the team has interviewed, or could interview still. For a team with a season ticket wait list that vanished this past year, that should matter a little bit.

CONS: The team is believed to have veered to David Culley last season because his intense positivity was the polar opposite of the black cloud of anger that Bill O'Brien brought to the building every day, Flores seems to skew more toward the O'Brien demeanor area. He also changed out assistant coaches like most people change underwear, which could make assembling a staff difficult, if they let Flores choose his assistants.

ODDS: 15 percent


JONATHAN GANNON

MOST RECENT EXPERIENCE: Current defensive coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles

RESUME:

As a coach:
Louisville (2003–2005)
Student assistant

Louisville (2006)
Graduate assistant

Atlanta Falcons (2007)
Defensive quality control coach

Tennessee Titans (2012–2013)
Defensive quality control coach

Minnesota Vikings (2014–2017)
Assistant defensive backs coach

Indianapolis Colts (2018–2020)
Defensive backs coach

Philadelphia Eagles (2021–present)
Defensive coordinator

As an executive:
St. Louis Rams (2009)
College scout

St. Louis Rams (2010–2011)
Pro scout

POPULARITY WITH TEXAN FANS:

PROS:
Gannon's varied background in scouting and coaching make him someone who has seen the whole circus in the NFL, and he's managed to cram 16 years of NFL experience in before the age of 40. Reportedly, he has a magnetic personality, and he fits the profile of head coaches that have experienced success of late — very little coordinator experience, but displaying traits that entice teams

CONS: If coordinator experience is important to you, Gannon has very little of it, just one season in Philadelphia. While by some metrics his defense in Philly was adequate, Eagle fans seem ready to drive Gannon to the airport. Gannon is my preferred candidate, for what it's worth.

ODDS: 20 percent


JOSH McCOWN

MOST RECENT EXPERIENCE: As a coach? None

RESUME:


As a player:

Arizona Cardinals (2002–2005)
Detroit Lions (2006)
Oakland Raiders (2007)
Miami Dolphins (2008)*
Carolina Panthers (2008–2009)
Hartford Colonials (2010)
San Francisco 49ers (2011)*
Chicago Bears (2011–2013)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014)
Cleveland Browns (2015–2016)
New York Jets (2017–2018)
Philadelphia Eagles (2019–2020)
Houston Texans (2020)

POPULARITY WITH TEXAN FANS:



PROS:
Well, McCown seems to be very, VERY well liked around the league, and any teammate that's ever played with him seems to think he would make a great coach. Also, two decades as a backup quarterback, I suppose, is the closest you can get to coaching experience without actually having the word "coach" in your title.

CONS: If you haven't heard me say this or read me type this, I'll say/type it louder for those of you in the back — McCOWN HAS NEVER COACHED AT ANY LEVEL BEFORE. Not only that, but when he interviewed for the job in 2021, and felt he wasn't ready, McCown spent a year watching his kids play high school football. He didn' spend a season as an assistant coach in the NFL or college, he WATCHED HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL. I think McCown is the favorite to get the job, and this will either be a revolutionary hire, or it will be the most spectacular flameout in hiring history.

ODDS: 65 percent

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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