New England Patriots inside linebacker coach Jerod Mayo watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
- The Texans are searching for a coach after firing David Culley
- Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is the favorite to replace Culley
- A look at the candidates’ odds can be found below with analysis
The Houston Texans didn’t give David Culley much of a chance to turn their franchise around, firing the coach after only one season.
Jerod Mayo is the frontrunner to replace Culley, who received first opportunity to be a head coach after serving as assistant in the NFL since 1994. The Texans went 4-13 under Culley but did show late-season improvement by splitting that their last four games despite having one of the least-talented rosters in the league.
The Texans have a combined 8-25 record over the last two seasons following back-to-back AFC South titles in 2018 and 2019. Quarterback Deshaun Watson’s situation is also still to be resolved after his was inactive all year because of legal troubles and a trade demand.
Next Texans Coach Odds
Odds Favor Mayo
Mayo, the Patriots’ linebackers coach, is strong possibility to be Culley’s successor.
Before joining Bill Belichick’s coaching staff, Mayo spent his entire eight-year career as a linebacker with the Patriots from 2008-15. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro pick in 2010.
Jerod Mayo talks about the help and advice Bill Belichick has provided in his goal to become a head coach pic.twitter.com/kfxRo3RzgN
— NBC Sports Boston’s Patriots Coverage (@NBCSPatriots) January 11, 2022
It is not surprising Mayo would get serious consideration in Houston. Texans general manager Nick Caserio and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby both came to Houston from the Patriots.
Easterby has been a lighting rod within the organization, alienating certain members of both the front office and field staff. However, Mayo might be able to coexist with Easterby because of their time in New England.
Mayo has never been a head coach at any level and is just 35 years old. However, Belichick entrusts Mayo enough to give limited play-calling duties.
Mayo also gets high marks as a communicator and motivator.
There is a great video (linked below) from the Patriots that dives into Jerod Mayo’s story. In it, his wife, Chaneltel Mayo, says that her husband takes pride “in having high energy.” Love the intensity! https://t.co/HkNKHBygFW pic.twitter.com/j6qjRP2xSf
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) January 10, 2022
If he gets the job, Mayo would be one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history. The Texans would likely surround him a veteran coaching staff.
Smith, Flores Next Choices
Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is the oddsmakers’ second choice. It is instructive to note Smith was not fired Thursday along with Culley, though offensive coordinator Tim Kelly did get the axe.
Smith has plenty of head coaching experience, including stints with the Chicago Bears (2004-12) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014-15). Though he took the Bears to the Super Bowl following the 2006 season – they lost to the Indianapolis Colts – Smith’s career record was barely over .500 at 89-87.
, | 😒
Lovie Smith coaches his last game with #DaBears , leading them to a 10-6 season.
The Bears haven’t won a playoff game since.pic.twitter.com/x5JLIHQEYh
— This Day in Chicago Sports (@ChiSportsDay) December 30, 2021
The Texans defense did not perform well this season, Smith’s first in Houston after a five-year run as a college head coach at Illinois where he was 17-39. Houston was 31st in the NFL in total defense and 27th in scoring defense.
Brian Flores is No. 3 on the list after being fired Monday by the Miami Dolphins following three years as head coach.
The move came as a surprise on the surface as Flores compiled a 24-25 record. The Dolphins also had winning records in 2020 and 2021, though without a playoff berth either season.
However, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross cited Flores’ communication difficulties within the organization as one of the main reasons for making a change. Subsequent reports say Flores also clashed with assistant coaches and had almost no relationship with quarterback Tua Tangovailoa.
I get why people like Brian Flores but it’s plays like these that make his firing more than understandable https://t.co/bhmuPyYrCn
— Not Adam (@alfonsohoops) January 14, 2022
Considering Flores spent his entire pro career with the Patriots before leaving for the Dolphins, he might have a better chance of staying connected with Caserio and Easterby.
Who Will Replace Culley?
While Mayo is the favorite, Flores seems like the most logical candidate for this job. He has head coaching experience and is proven to be a strong Xs and Os guy and motivator.
Flores’ familiarity with the Texans’ front office is a plus. And, at 40, Flores is young enough to learn from his missteps in Miami.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.