Latest Houston Texans News and Rumors on Their Head Coach Search

Latest Houston Texans News and Rumors on Their Head Coach Search

The Houston Texans are dipping their toes back into the pool of head coaching candidates for the third consecutive offseason. On the heels of firing 66-year-old David Culley and 64-year-old Lovie Smith after one-year stints, the Texans appear primed to move into a younger direction. Texans general manager Nick Caserio was clear in his postseason press conference the franchise needed to do things differently.

Let’s go through the latest buzz as the Texans continue to schedule interviews with top candidates. We’ll continue to update our 2023 Texans head coach tracker as we learn more information.

Latest on the Houston Texans’ Head Coach Search

The Texans are retaining Caserio to oversee their search, at least for now. The door might be open for the right candidate to sway Texans’ ownership to move away from Caserio as the general manager, but Texans CEO Cal McNair opted to show support for Caserio in their press conference. Here’s who Caserio has requested interviews with thus far.

Ejiro Evero, Broncos Defensive Coordinator

Vic Fangio is one of the most respected defensive minds in recent NFL history. First-year Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero walked into the roster Fangio built and got more out of the unit. That’s not a knock on Fangio, who was a head coach that assembled a talented group that had to overcome an awful offense, but praise for Evero. He also battled a brutally inept offense and was still top-12 in passing and rushing defense.

The 42-year-old spent time under Jim Harbaugh, Dom Capers, Wade Phillips, Brandon Staley, and Raheem Morris before earning his promotion. His track record is phenomenal, even if it’s limited as a play-caller and coordinator. Houston has to see if he’s ready for another step up.

For more, check out our Ejiro Evero NFL Head Coach Profile.

Jonathan Gannon, Eagles Defensive Coordinator

There was almost an expectation that Gannon was going to land the Texans’ head coaching job last year as he was a finalist for the position alongside seemingly two unserious candidates, Josh McCown and Smith. Instead, the Texans suddenly pivoted to Smith, and Gannon returned to the Eagles for a second season. This time, Gannon has to be considered a massive favorite to earn the promotion.

He’s led one of the most talented units in the NFL to a top-eight finish in scoring and No. 2 in yards allowed. The Eagles have a good mixture of veterans and young players, and Gannon has unlocked the very best of the unit. They became the first defense in NFL history to have four defenders with 10 or more sacks.

The Texans have a long way to go before they have anywhere near the defensive talent the Eagles have. They should consider this before hiring Gannon since it takes years to accumulate depth and top-tier talent. However, if he can form a solid offensive staff, Gannon has promise.

For more, check out our Jonathan Gannon NFL Head Coach Profile.

Ben Johnson, Lions Offensive Coordinator

It’s a testament to how well Johnson performed in his first year as the Lions’ offensive coordinator that he’s earning so many interviews for head coach openings. An offensive assistant with the Dolphins for seven years, Johnson was in Detroit for two seasons before Dan Campbell took over in 2021. Johnson was the tight ends coach in Detroit before being promoted in 2022.

He helped develop an offensive scheme that had few competitors in terms of quality designs, timely play calls, and maximizing the skill sets along the unit. The Lions produced the fifth-most offensive points and fourth-most yards in his first season despite dealing with a myriad of injuries. It’s possible Johnson also saved quarterback Jared Goff’s career in Detroit by creating an environment where he could thrive.

I’d argue Johnson has the highest ceiling of any coordinator the Texans are interviewing based on what we saw from his unit on the field. However, a lot more goes into it than just scheming, and Johnson’s ability to build a staff and handle another big promotion so soon is a concern.

Update: Johnson has decided to return to the Lions for 2023 instead of considering any head coaching jobs.

Mike Kafka, Giants Offensive Coordinator

In terms of doing more with less, no one in this list compares to Kafka. The first-year offensive coordinator maximized the talent available to him while under Brian Daboll’s tutelage. I also love that Kafka spent five years under Chiefs head coach Andy Reid previously.

The 35-year-old seems to have a special gift of problem-solving, finding late-season contributors in Isaiah Hodgins and Richie James and maximizing the talent of quarterback Daniel Jones. The Texans have a similarly limited group to build around right now, but that can quickly change. Kafka should get serious consideration.

For more, check out our Mike Kafka NFL Head Coach Profile.

Sean Payton, Former Saints Head Coach

The most shocking announcement regarding the Texans’ head coaching search is they’ve requested to speak with Payton. Payton, who is one of three premier veteran coaches considered to be on the market, would likely want significant power within any organization he’s a part of. Houston would likely need to reorganize their front office in addition to giving up significant draft capital to the Saints in order to acquire Payton’s rights.

Talking to Payton certainly can’t hurt, and McNair would be smart to at least see if Payton is interested. I struggle to see this being a strong fit for both the franchise and coach, considering Payton is 59 and walked away from a rebuilding Saints team that was ahead of where the Texans currently are.

Shane Steichen, Eagles Offensive Coordinator

Houston’s keeping it in the Eagles’ building by also hosting Steichen for an interview. The second-year play-caller interviewed for three openings last year but seems destined to find a landing spot after a tremendous 2022. Philadelphia’s offense showed solid improvement after committing to Myles Sanders as their main back and incorporating A.J. Brown.

MORE: NFL HC/GM Interview Tracker

Ranking third in yards and points, Steichen was able to build a more complex RPO-based offense than what we’ve seen in recent years from less talented offensive staffs. He’s helped Jalen Hurts become an MVP candidate. At 37, Steichen will be a hot name as both the Colts and Panthers have requested an interview.

For more, check out our Shane Steichen NFL Head Coach Profile.

DeMeco Ryans, 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Could Ryans come back to the team he established himself as a standout linebacker? Ryans played in Houston from 2006-2011, earning two Pro Bowl nods and second-team All-Pro honors. He was a tackling machine, finishing with 636 combined tackles over six seasons with the franchise before playing in Philadelphia for four seasons.

Ryans has led a phenomenal 49ers defense over the past two seasons and was an assistant for four years before promoting. He’s working with a talented unit but there’s no question he’s schemed them to be even better, compensating for a relatively average secondary. He’s on the fast track to earning a head coaching job sooner than later.

Thomas Brown, Rams Tight Ends Coach

Houston is apparently leaving no stone unturned as they’re giving the 36-year-old Rams assistant head coach the shot to make his case for a big promotion. Brown spent eight seasons in college football before joining the Rams as a running backs coach for two years. He earned the assistant head coach moniker in 2021 and switched to coaching tight ends in 2022.