The Houston Texans confirmed Thursday that they interviewed former journeyman QB Josh McCown for their recently vacated head coaching role, and the word around the NFL rumor mill is that they really want to hire him.
Now you might be thinking — that Josh McCown? Isn’t he still technically a free agent? Has he ever even coached above the high school level? The answers to those questions are, respectively, yes he is, and no he has not. He’s never even spent time as a low-level grad assistant, because he spent the past 18 years playing in the NFL — and he actually coached high school football while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019.
The Texans recently fired head coach David Culley after a single season, in which they finished 4-13. Culley, if you recall, inherited a Deshaun Watson-less team that also suddenly became one J.J. Watt short. With more big-name departures throughout his tenure, he was left with a skeletal roster for his single year in the league and never really had a chance — and yet still finished with a better record than the Trevor Lawrence-Urban Meyer duo in Jacksonville, as the Texans defeated several teams with winning records and even kept it close with the Titans late in the season.
Yes, Meyer was also fired (in the middle of his first season), but had he simply suffered from a bad record and not, you know, the incurable ailment of being a public asshole, one has to think that the ever-patient Shad Khan would have given Meyer several more years to make things work in Jacksonville. Culley did not have that luxury, and the reins may be getting handed over to a man who has never coached in an NFL or college game in any capacity.
This isn’t some Ted Lasso situation where McCown knows nothing about the sport he’s interviewing to coach. He’s been in the league for the better part of two decades and has served as a mentor to developing young quarterbacks, most notably Carson Wentz. If you’re now asking, “Wouldn’t a QB coach role be a better start for him than jumping straight to the head coaching job?” The answer is yes, it probably would be.
The Texans interviewed McCown for this role last year while he was still on their roster, before eventually hiring Culley. And at this point, Mike Florio is reporting that in order to legitimize hiring McCown (who, again, has no college or pro coaching experience), the powers that be want another team to interview him for a head coaching vacancy. If you need another team to legitimize your hire, maybe the hire isn’t legitimate. Just a thought.
This certainly isn’t to say that McCown isn’t a good leader or couldn’t be a great coach at some point. But when placed so starkly against the firing of Culley — one of the few Black coaches in the NFL, of which Mike Tomlin is the only one left employed — hiring a completely inexperienced guy as your next head coach reeks of disrespect. Why would McCown do a better job with the No. 3 draft pick and the current team than Culley would have? What changes does he legitimately bring to the table that would improve the team more than Culley could have given another year?
When we’re looking at experienced Black coaches and coordinators with years in the league (Byron Leftwich, Eric Bienemy, etc., etc.) who get passed over year after year, and the disproportionate rate at which Black coaches get fired after a single year, to express such interest in this hire at this time leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It’s made worse by the history of Houston’s owners, the McNair family. In 2017, then-owner Bob McNair said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison” in reference to Black players like Colin Kaepernick kneeling to protest police brutality. While he passed away in 2018, his son Cal McNair is now running the show and caught flak for referring to COVID as the “China Virus.”
And this isn’t to say that everyone must follow the exact same path to becoming a head coach, but it must feel like a slap in the face to Culley and other candidates who have paid their dues and spent years coaching in the league. To hire him as a first-time QBs coach or even offensive coordinator would be one thing, but a head coaching job is an enormous leap.