The Houston Texans have interviewed former longtime NFL wide receiver Hines Ward for their head coaching vacancy, the team announced Saturday.
After his playing career, Ward coached two years for the New York Jets as an offensive assistant in 2019 and wide receivers coach in 2020. This past season he served as a special assistant to the head coach for Florida Atlantic.
Ward, 45, was a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion in his 14-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. All three marks are franchise records.
But given his general inexperience in the coaching ranks, his interview was seen as something of a surprise:
The Texans have also interviewed former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Mike Lombardi for their head coaching vacancy.
Houston made the surprising decision to fire David Culley after just one season. Despite going just 4-13, Culley managed to squeeze four wins out of a depleted, talent-deficient roster.
That included being without star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who demanded a trade in the offseason and is currently the subject of 22 lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct and 10 criminal complaints. The NFL's investigation is ongoing.
So rookie Davis Mills, the team's 2021 third-round pick, emerged as the starter and played surprisingly well, throwing for 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 13 appearances (11 starts) while completing 66.8 percent of his passes.
Given his lack of weapons to work with—Rex Burkhead led the team in rushing (427 yards, three touchdowns), while Brandin Cooks (90 catches for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns) was the only receiver to exceed 500 receiving yards—it was a strong start to his NFL career.
But it wasn't enough to save Culley's job, and now the Texans are casting a very wide net in their search for a new head coach.