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.