Noted for his ability to develop creative schemes that improve players’ weaknesses and complement their strengths, Culley cultivated a reputation as an excellent teacher and communicator across his 27 seasons as an N.F.L. coach, most of which have been spent assisting Andy Reid, first in Philadelphia and then in Kansas City.
“David will do a good job,” Reid said after practice Thursday. “He’s a people person. He’ll bring energy to the building.”
Ravens Coach John Harbaugh overlapped nine seasons with Culley as assistants in Philadelphia and has said that he tried multiple times to hire him in Baltimore. When Harbaugh finally succeeded in 2019, luring Culley from Buffalo, where he coached the Bills’ quarterbacks, he called it a “coup.”
Culley was an athlete growing up in Sparta, Tenn., about 90 miles east of Nashville, where he played football, baseball and basketball at White County High School. He was a quarterback at Vanderbilt and went on to coach at several colleges before entering the N.F.L. in 1994 as the receivers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It came as no surprise to Harbaugh that Culley would be picked up this year — by the Texans.
“I do believe that David Culley would be a tremendous hire for any team; maybe, especially, the Texans with Deshaun Watson,” Harbaugh said on Jan. 11.
But the opportunity to coach Watson may not come, as the quarterback reportedly requested a trade after a series of disagreements with the Texans’ upper management. He reportedly became disgruntled when the team hired a new general manager, Nick Caserio, without his consultation this year and felt the team had been inattentive to social justice causes, including diversifying their hiring practices.
Watson had signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension in September 2020 that included about $75 million guaranteed, a $27 million signing bonus and a no-trade clause, meaning that he will have a say in where he ends up next, if the Texans pursue a deal. Culley’s hiring will not have an effect on Watson’s decision, according to ESPN.