David Culley says “frustration” led to bad decision on declining penalty before punting

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns
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Early in the second quarter of Sunday’s game, Texans coach David Culley made a bizarre decision: He declined a penalty that the Browns committed on third down, then punted on fourth down.

The decision made absolutely no sense. The Texans gained 13 yards on third-and-15, and the Browns jumped offside on the play. That meant Culley had two reasonable choices: Either keep his offense on the field to try to pick up the first down on third-and-10, or go for it on fourth-and-2. Culley chose neither.

What Culley chose was fourth-and-2, and a punt. Why would any coach choose to punt instead of trying for a first down? The officials looked confused as they were talking to Culley, perhaps thinking they misunderstood him at first when he said he was declining the penalty. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was shown on the TV broadcast looking perplexed as well.

But Culley chose to punt on Sunday. On Monday, after some time to think it over, Culley admitted he made the wrong choice because he was frustrated with the way his team was playing.

“If I had it to do all over again I would have taken the penalty. It was more out of frustration than anything,” Culley said. “I was a little frustrated at that time because I was thinking field position, I did not want to do anything that hurt us. . . . That was just out of frustration on my part because of the series we were having at that time. But if I had it to do over again, I would have taken the penalty and given our offense a chance to get the first down, which is what I should have done.”

It’s good that Culley can admit his mistake, but it was a major mistake. And not the kind of mistake a team like the Texans can afford to make.

26 responses to “David Culley says “frustration” led to bad decision on declining penalty before punting

  1. This man is clearly not head coach material. A head coach is using a lot of bandwidth to manage the game, so he usually has assistants in his ear recommending the proper action. The fact that not one of the 20 or so assistants did not attempt to avert this error is troubling.

  2. The Texans aren’t very good on paper, and David Culley might occasionally let the pressure cause him to make a head-scratching decision. I have to admit I’ve never before seen one quite as bizarre as this one.
    To his credit, no one can claim he doesn’t have these guys playing hard for him. The rag-tag Texans were much more prepared than the Jags in their opener, and yesterday they hung around a lot longer than I and a lot of others thought they would against a far superior opponent.

  3. Agree with above post. He was assistant head coach and pass game coordinator for the Ravens. EVERYONE knows the Ravens have struggled with their passing game, soooooooo what qualifications did Culley have to get a head coaching shot ? He’s a good dude by all accounts but definitely “over his skis” as a head coach. Unfortunately for Texans fans you’re going to waste 2 or 3 years giving him the opportunity to prove it. Terrible hire.

  4. This is what happens when a team chaplain pulls all the strings behind the scenes. He must be making play calls in Culley’s head set now.

  5. It’s refreshing to see a coach admit his mistakes. Great character and leader. The Texans has shown up in both games this season and that’s on coaching. It needs another backup quarterback though.

  6. Apparently, it is critical to not frustrate this guy. Frustrate him enough and he might punt on first down.

  7. It’s not a crazy call and I actually wished he hadn’t second guessed it today. Field position is important. Had he taken the penalty and thrown an incomplete pass (very likely) he would have regretted that decision. The Browns turned the ball over on the next drive. Don’t sleep on punting as a weapon.

  8. Been a head coach is sometimes the hardest job on the field. You get to make a split decision, and then everyone gets to destroy you for the decision. There is nothing wrong with punting the ball. If you are already frustrated by the way your team is playing, then punting is the best option at times.

  9. I think the better prepared team lost.

    Hats off to the Texan players and coaches. I think if Tyrod was healthy the whole game that it could have been a different outcome for the Browns. Jeremy Tunsil manhandled Myles Garrett all game long.

  10. He was almost as clueless as the game announcers.
    The OC and DC are legit and should be making the play calls.

  11. Appreciate y’all Texans – Ravens got some draft picks for the minority hire. He’s your problem now! Cheers!

  12. Watch a lot of football both college and pro and it’s amazing the amount of bad decisions by HCs that are made weekly in both . From wasting timeouts to mismanaging the clock to screwing up challenges are the main culprits that show up regularly every football weekend .

  13. Did you see Stephanski on the other side shaking his head in disbelief? If you read his lips, he told the refs “that doesn’t make any sense but ok”

  14. As a Browns fan I have to commend the Texans for how well coached they are. Very impressive.

    This was a gift I will forever be grateful for however.

  15. He needs a guy upstairs to help him with some of these decisions, like Ernie Adams did for Bill Belichick until he just retired.

  16. coachmike327 says:
    September 20, 2021 at 12:31 pm
    It’s not a crazy call and I actually wished he hadn’t second guessed it today. Field position is important. Had he taken the penalty and thrown an incomplete pass (very likely) he would have regretted that decision. The Browns turned the ball over on the next drive. Don’t sleep on punting as a weapon.

    If he had taken the penalty, it would still have been third down, so he could have thrown and incomplete pass and still punted on fourth for field position. It was only fourth down because he declined the penalty.

    You’re a coach?

  17. The joys of having a new job and responsibilities with millions of people watching your every move. I hope he will be fine, he has the team playing hard for him. Motivation is a big part of the job. He’ll learn from it, clean the egg off his face and get after it again. Just don’t lose the locker room and he will be fine. I believe, hope incorrectly that the Texans will have a new GM, Head coach, and team chaplain in the not that distant future.

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