Ravens assistant David Culley to become Houston head coach

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Ravens assistant head coach David Culley is reportedly set to become Houston’s new head coach, a move that will bring draft compensation to Baltimore in return.

Having also served as the pass coordinator and wide receivers coach over the last two seasons, the 65-year-old Culley will receive his first head coaching opportunity after serving as an NFL assistant since 1994. Culley spent most of his coaching career working for Andy Reid in both Philadelphia and Kansas City from 1999-2016 and reportedly beat out Buffalo defensive coordinator and former Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier for the Texans’ head job.

Regarded favorably around the league despite having never served as an NFL offensive coordinator, Culley is the first Black head coach and second minority head coach to be hired in the current cycle. Head coach John Harbaugh worked with Culley in Philadelphia for nine years and had periodically advocated for the veteran assistant coach over the last two seasons. Culley was the quarterbacks coach in Buffalo for two seasons before joining the Ravens in 2019.

“David Culley would be an excellent candidate as a head coaching candidate,” Harbaugh said in early January. “Coach Culley is a leader, he’s energetic, [and] he’s a high motivator. He’s been with winning programs consistently his whole career. There’s a reason for that, and he’d be a great candidate.”

While Culley becomes the fourth known Ravens assistant to accept a promotion elsewhere, his departure is expected to net two third-round compensatory picks as part of the new NFL rule encouraging the development and hiring of minorities for head coach and general manager positions. Baltimore is set to receive an extra third-rounder in each of the next two drafts.

Culley’s departure may also open the door for Harbaugh to revisit his offensive coaching staff after the Baltimore passing attack struggled in 2020, falling to 18th in yards per attempt, 17th in efficiency, and 32nd in yards per game after a very efficient 2019 campaign.

Ravens assistants have been a popular hiring target this month with former defensive line coach Joe Cullen becoming the Jacksonville defensive coordinator, former linebackers coach Mike Macdonald becoming the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan, and former defensive backs coach Jesse Minter joining Vanderbilt University as the defensive coordinator. Baltimore hired former Texans assistants Anthony Weaver (defensive line coach and run game coordinator) and D’Anton Lynn (defensive backs coach) as well as former NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (inside linebackers coach) as their replacements.

Meanwhile, Culley will be tasked with trying to mend what appears to be a broken relationship between the Texans and three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, who reportedly wants to be traded. The two had the opportunity to work together during last year’s Pro Bowl.