The Houston Texans nearly pulled off a 21-point comeback against AFC No. 1 seed Tennessee in Sunday's season finale, but the Titans held on to win, 28-25.
That result dropped Houston to 4-13 to conclude David Culley's first year as coach, and it's not completely certain whether he will get a second.
Culley was not among the heads to roll on so-called "Black Monday" in the NFL, when the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins became the latest teams to cut ties with their head coaches. That does not mean Culley is assured of a return to the gig in Houston, and he did not say Monday that he'd been given any word from above about his future.
"As far as I know, I'm the head coach of the Texans right now, and am moving forward with that," Culley said.
Asked if he'd spoken with general manager Nick Caserio or CEO Cal McNair about his status, Culley added, "Not at all, and I will not speak to them, they'll speak to me."
Culley took the job in Houston in January 2021 after quarterback Deshaun Watson reportedly had requested the franchise trade him. Watson did not soften that stance after meeting with the coach, and after numerous sexual assault and misconduct lawsuits were filed against Watson in civil court, Culley had the unenviable task of leading the Texans without their Pro Bowl quarterback playing a snap all season.
Culley, 66, received vocal support from some of his players who spoke to the media on exit interview day.
"I thought Coach Culley did a great job his first year as a head coach," offensive lineman Justin Britt said. "Kind of the situation we had here in Houston wouldn't have been easy for anybody. I feel like his leadership was consistent and who he was was consistent, and that's what we needed here as a leader, someone to run this team. I hope he gets another shot."
Running back Rex Burkhead said it was "definitely a joy" to play for Culley.
"He's an unbelievable coach. He's a great leader of this team," Burkhead said. "People may not see the growth in the win category, but from a player's perspective seeing it out on the practice field, seeing the guys in the locker room, especially some young guys, taking some steps further has been super impressive."
Culley came to Houston last year after serving as the Baltimore Ravens' assistant head coach and wide receivers coach.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (fired Urban Meyer), Las Vegas Raiders (Jon Gruden) and Denver Broncos (Vic Fangio) will also be searching for a new coach this offseason.
--Field Level Media