Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported over the weekend that Watson wants out, regardless of who the team hires to become the head coach. However, until Watson formally requests a trade, there’s a chance (slim as it may be) that Watson will change his mind.
As noted by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Culley and Watson “built a really good connection” at the Pro Bowl last year, with Watson on the AFC team and the Ravens coaching the squad. The connection will be tested immediately, as Culley (presumably) tries to get Watson to answer his phone and/or to respond to a text message.
Watson presumably will at least hear Culley out. And that will be Culley’s chance to turn things around.
Don’t bet the farm against it. Culley, as a longtime receivers coach, has managed for decades some of the most difficult personalities in an NFL locker room. He coached the Eagles receivers during the Terrell Owens era. More recently, he has spent two years getting Ravens receivers to buy in to a passing game that doesn’t get used as much as other teams’ passing games are used.
Although Culley never has been a coordinator nor a candidate for an NFL head-coaching job, he has worked in the league since 1994. He has experience working at the right hand of men like Andy Reid and John Harbaugh. Quite possibly, Culley’s star didn’t rise earlier because he didn’t “play the game,” spending time politicking and positioning himself for bigger jobs and thus losing out to those candidates who did.
Thus, while the Texans may have landed on Culley for unconventional reasons (including, for example, that his gratitude for getting a chance to become a head coach at the age of 65 will prevent him from trying to usurp any of the power and influence accumulated by Jack Easterby and Nick Caserio), Culley has a chance to be exactly the guy the Texans need at this strange and challenging moment in the franchise’s history.
And if he can get Watson to decide to remain with the Texans, Culley’s record should be 1-0.