Houston Texans Head Coach David Culley still remembers the best coaching advice he ever received. To this day, he can hear the words that his head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Bill Oliver once told him.
"When I coached there, he says, 'David, coaching is simply this: getting guys to do what you want them to do. What they do and what you see on video and on film is a reflection of you,'" Culley said.
As a coach for 43 years, Culley learned that mistakes made by players are a reflection of the coaching they receive. Mistakes need to be corrected by teaching and communication, the two fundamentals of coaching according to the Texans newest Head Coach.
Culley's methods of teaching and his enthusiasm for his players is evident to anyone who has seen him coach. Even though Culley served as assistant head coach/ pass coordinator/ wide receivers coach for just two years in Baltimore, one particular memory from training camp stands out to The Athletic senior reporter Jeff Zrebiec.
"The Ravens usually practice pretty early and it was almost without fail, Culley was the first voice you heard," Zrebiec said. "You know, it was always coach and always having fun talking to guys and just being really demonstrative in a positive manner. And that's what that's one of the things that kind of struck me, just the energy level and the positivity. That stands out."
Culley then tells a story of his former player Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown. While the rest of the league refers to the second-year receiver by his nickname "Hollywood," he was simply Marquise to his wide receivers coach. In last year's Week 14 game at Cleveland, Brown was off to a rough start, Culley recalls.
"He had dropped three balls in that ball game, two for first downs, critical," Culley said. "He comes to the sideline; it's one of those games where we had a 14-point lead then we're tied. Then we got another 14-point lead, then we're tied. And then all of a sudden we get up again seven and then all of a sudden it's tied again. So now during that ballgame it became one of those games where probably whoever had the ball was going to have a chance to win the game. And he (Brown) had struggled and, in his mind, all he was thinking about was what had happened before he had those dropped balls."
Brown did overcome the drops, scoring on a 44-yard touchdown catch from Lamar Jackson late in the fourth quarter. Brown's big reception gave the Ravens a 42-35 lead with 1:51 remaining in the game.
"That kid would have never been able to make that play if we hadn't got him to understand that we'll talk tomorrow about those drop balls you had, today is not over," Culley said. "You got to understand that we still got a chance to win this game and the point was this it wasn't about him at that time. He was making it about him. It wasn't about him and that's our philosophy that we have here. It's about us."
Culley says he is a firm believer in helping players realize that they are always in a position to make a big play to win the game. The Ravens did win, in overtime, beating the Browns 47-42.
The Texans hired Culley to be their fourth head coach in franchise history. Culley (65) brings 27 years of NFL coaching experience and is the second minority head coach and first Black Head Coach to be hired of the seven NFL head coach job openings in this cycle.