HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has already stated his qualifications for the next head coach which includes NFL head coaching experience. However, while the search is underway, McNair also stated that the Texans will not talk with NFL coaches currently under contract.
So, that leaves plenty of time and opportunity to talk with unemployed former NFL coaches and maybe a handful of really high profile college coaches.
One very obvious candidate has surfaced as a possibility and that is former Chicago Bears Head Coach, Lovie Smith. Great candidate with coaching experience and it doesn’t hurt that he’s from Big Sandy.
Other coaches rumored are current Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan, San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt who was also a head coach in Arizona. Seattle Seahawks Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell is also a name that has surfaced.
There have been a couple of college coaches mentioned in Bill O’Brien of Penn State and Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin who just signed a new six-year extension. There are plenty of reasons to like these gentlemen.
BRILES FITS THE BILL
The one name that has not been mentioned is that of Baylor Head Football Coach Art Briles. McNair stated that he wants his new head coach to have NFL head coaching experience or some type of head coaching experience. If college coaches weren’t going to be part of the selection process, Kevin Sumlin’s name wouldn’t be mentioned. Neither does Sumlin have NFL experience.
So, why not add Briles to that list. Besides, rumor has it that Art Briles could be a possible candidate for the Washington Redskins job should Mike Shanahan get fired. Briles has said in response that he has had “zero” contact with the Redskins. Regardless, when looking at McNair’s list of qualifications, Briles certainly fit the bill.
“We’re looking for a coach that is bright, ethical, whose culture fits into the culture of our organization,” said McNair. (A coach) “Who’s innovative, who’s able to make adjustments, who works with energy and enthusiasm, and positive in his approach.”
Those qualifications fit lots of coaches in the business. However, being innovative is what Art Briles does! Add to that, he’s a quarterback’s dream! He recruited and coached Texans’ quarterback Case Keenum while at the University of Houston. Let’s add Heisman Trophy winner and current Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to his resume and all of a sudden Briles looks like a candidate who should be highly considered.
KELLY HAS SET THE PRECEDENT
Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly is setting the precedent and his team is finally getting the system. Eagles management wasn’t afraid to take a chance and they didn’t have nearly as many talented and existing pieces in place as do the Texans. McNair says the team is not rebuilding. So, it’s safe to assume that he believes Briles will have the talent to win. More on that later.
But for now, would Briles be willing to take a leap of faith and leave the college ranks as did Kelly? Might the Texans be willing to take a chance and do something ‘cutting edge’? Quite frankly, the Redskins’ situation would be more certain for Briles since Griffin is the Redskins quarterback of the future. However, he must get healthy. Shanahan decided on Wednesday to bench Griffin in favor of backup Kirk Cousins. The time off should give Griffin a chance to fully heal.
Conversely, the Texans and Owner Bob McNair want to see whether or not Case Keenum can be the future quarterback of this team. That’s good business sense with the likelihood of the Texans finishing with the worst record in the NFL and landing the first pick in the draft. Could be the difference in taking a quarterback with the first pick or trading down for more picks which is what the Texans need.
Briles is, or should be among the candidates. At minimum, the Texans should have a conversation with him. Briles dropped by Texans practice on Wednesday reportedly to check in on Case Keenum. The 2013 AP Big 12 Coach of the Year is from Texas, understands Texas, and coached in the City of Houston at the University of Houston. He is about as Texas as it gets.
Speaking of Texas, if you’re thinking Briles to the Texas Longhorns after the reported future departure of Mack Brown this Friday, you might want to rethink that. Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban is more than likely the top choice for that job if the rumors about Brown are even true.
Briles fits the Texans much better and with the right staff, he stands to have success. Could Wade Phillips handle that hire? That’s a wait-and-see proposition.
Former hard-hitting Houston Oiler safety Bubba McDowell worked as a defensive assistant under Briles while at the University of Houston. He thinks Briles would be a good fit.
“Why not bring him here and interview him? If you’re going to go that college route to the college coach, I think he would be good. He’s got two kids that he has coached at the NFL level who are playing, both starters. He’s been successful.” Those quarterbacks are Griffin and Keenum.
Briles has also delivered other players to the league as well, one such being Tennessee Titans wide receiver, Kendall Wright.
It might be a good idea to add the name of Art Briles to the list of candidates to be considered.