Richard Justice: No team can offer head coaching candidates as many positives as the Texans, and who says there’s no good news in the world?

Dec 2, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans chairman and chief operating officer D. Cal McNair looks on before a game against the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Justice: No team can offer head coaching candidates as many positives as the Texans, and who says there’s no good news in the world?

   Of the five NFL teams seeking a head coach, the Texans have the most to offer. There’s today’s dose of good news, Texans fans.

   This assessment is based on an analysis by The Athletic’s Mike Sando that looked at a bunch of factors, including ownership, available draft choices, salary cap issues, and roster age.

   The Texans scored well across the board thanks in large part to the work general manager Nick Caserio has done in his two years on the job.

   This means the Texans have a chance to land a great head coach. It also means that, unlike some recent hires, they must not settle for anyone they’re not completely sold on.

   Whether they end up with a proven coach like Sean Payton or one of the NFL’s top assistants, it’s on chairman Cal McNair to get it right this time.

   This offseason could be the most important in Texans history. How many times does a team have the opportunity to land both a great head coach and a franchise quarterback?

   These two decisions could set the Texans up for the next decade. They’ve been off the grid for so long that it’s easy to forget that this could be one of the NFL’s model franchises with one of its most passionate fan bases.

   The Cincinnati Bengals are a good model. They hired Zac Taylor as head coach in 2019 and stuck with him through two seasons in which the Bengals were 6-25.

   Owner Mike Brown seemingly never waved in his belief that he had the right guy. Taylor caught a break in his first offseason when the Bengals had an opportunity to draft one of the best quarterback prospects in recent history.

   Burrow missed six games when he was injured his rookie season, extending the Bengals’ string of losing seasons to five. Since then, they’re 22-11 in the regular season and 5-1 in the playoffs as they head to a second straight AFC Championship Game.

   Burrow is that rare guy who has been every bit as good as advertised and has a quiet swagger that seemingly impacts everyone in the organization.

   When someone asked him recently how long the Bengals championship window might remain open, he said: “The window is my whole career.”

   That’s what the Texans will be looking for after they hire a head coach and begin debating the three top quarterbacks in this draft: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Will Levis.

    Here are the factors that make the Texans opening so attractive:

   Ownership: One of the things that Cal McNair is criticized for around here is what makes the Texans appealing. That is, he hires executives and coaches, gives them the resources to do their jobs, and stays out of their way.

   Quarterback: If the Chicago Bears use the No. 1 pick on a defensive player, the Texans will have their choice of quarterbacks, including Alabama’s Bryce Young, who probably would be the top choice. Even if Young is gone, the chance to pick between Stroud and Levis is an opportunity that will make the job appealing to candidates.

    Draft choices: Caserio has done a great job accumulating draft picks, especially in the Deshaun Watson trade. As a result, the Texans have five of the first 73 picks in the 2023 draft, including the overall second and 12th choices. The Texans also have two first-round picks in 2024 and two fourth-rounders.

   Young talent: Caserio also had a solid 2022 draft. Safety Jalen Pitre, running back Dameon Pierce, and cornerback Derek Stingley look like impact players. Wide receiver John Metchie III appears to be on the road to a full recovery from leukemia, and based on his play at Alabama, could be a significant offensive weapon for the new quarterback.

   Salary cap: The Texans have twice as much cap room —$40 million — as any of the other four teams. Here’s how they line up: Colts ($20 million), Cardinals ($16 million), Broncos ($12 million), and Panthers ($5 million over the cap).

   Roster age: This isn’t a great area for the Texans, although there’s likely to be more churning of the roster over the next few weeks. At the moment, the Texans’ offensive starters are the league’s 18th oldest, the defensive starters 13th. 

   If the Bengals are the best working example for the Texans, it’s also important to note that it didn’t happen overnight. Plenty of Bengals fans were ready to send Taylor packing after two difficult seasons.

   If there’s one thing Texans fans have learned, it’s patience. At this point, they’d settle for a glimmer of hope, and that’s what the Texans could give them.

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