As the Texans fill up their third annual coaching-search dance card, one name has not yet landed on the list. But it seems inevitable that, for the third straight year, former NFL quarterback Josh McCown will become a candidate for the job.
This year, will Texans owner Cal McNair finally make the leap?
In 2021, the Texans stunned the NFL world by giving McCown an interview. After the Texans hired David Culley, some believed Culley was a bridge to McCown.
Then, after the team fired Culley after only one year, citing “philosophical differences” that didn’t have nearly enough time to germinate, McCown re-entered the mix. Eventually, the team had three finalists: McCown, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
The Texans really wanted to hire McCown. They wanted to hire him so badly that they were trying to get other teams with vacancies to interview him, in order to legitimize him as a candidate. (The Jaguars eventually talked to McCown, without interviewing him.)
That’s when it got weird, or perhaps weirder. Out of nowhere, the Texans went off the board and promoted Lovie Smith, a holdover from Culley’s staff, into the position.
Why Lovie and not McCown? With Flores filing a landmark racial discrimination against the NFL, it would have looked horrible if the Texans had rejected Flores for a white candidate with no college or pro coaching experience. So Smith became Plan B and, necessarily, another bridge to some future hiring cycle in which the Texans eventually offer the job to the person they truly believe to be the multi-year leader of the team.
So now the question is whether it will be McCown. He still has no college or pro experience. Hiring him would become an issue in the Flores litigation, especially since Flores has since sued the Texans for not hiring him because of his lawsuit against the Dolphins, the NFL, and other teams.
Gannon already is back in the mix. If they don’t interview Flores, they’d better have an explanation more objectively credible than “he sued us.” Especially if McCown gets interviewed again.
Some think McCown’s candidacy ended the moment Jack Easterby’s spell over McNair was broken. Others think McCown was and continues to be McNair’s preferred candidate.
They wouldn’t do it in 2021. They couldn’t do it in 2022. Will they do it now, especially with former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans regarded as one of the top candidates for a head-coaching job?
Ultimately, it’s McNair’s call. While he’d have to deal with potential fan and media scrutiny, along with potential legal complications, McNair owns the team. He runs the show. And if Colts owner Jim Irsay can install Jeff Saturday for eight games (and maybe more), why can’t the team that originally considered the way-outside-the-box possibility of hiring a completely inexperienced coach do the same?
So the question is whether McNair, after two prior seasons of climbing to the top of the high dive but not jumping, will finally attempt a Triple Lindy in the form of rolling the dice on Josh McCown.