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Here's why the Texans place in the AFC South moving forward is so uncertain

This division is winnable, but the Texans are playing the long game. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Texans head coach David Culley is coming back next season. Although he signed a five-year deal, this season could've been his first and last as Texans' coach. Going into the final game of the season at 4-12 against the AFC South division leader and number one seed in the conference, isn't an ideal landing spot for a new coach. Sure, this roster was in desperate need of an overhaul. But you can't hold a coach solely responsible for the bleep show the previous regime left.

General manager Nick Caserio is a smart enough guy to know what he's up against. He knows the first hurdle has been cleared, but there's so many more to clear before becoming relevant again. The decision to bring Culley back for next season should've been inevitable. There was no way this team was in position to bring in another coach. The roster is still in flux. This team is still a year or three away from truly competing. What coach would come in and right this ship right now?

When looking around the AFC South, are there any teams that have the sort of chokehold that makes it impossible for a team to get itself together and take over the top spot? The Colts used to be scary, but they don't have a franchise quarterback either...unless you think Carson Wentz is the answer. The Titans have Derrick Henry, aka King Henry...but he's going to wear down eventually given their reliance on him for the bulk of their offense. The Jags have a potential franchise quarterback...but they just fired their head coach and have Bill O'Brien of all people on their list of candidates.

This division is winnable, but the Texans are playing the long game. Right now, they know they don't have things in place to take over the AFC South just yet. If they get a franchise quarterback in place and build around him, they'll get right back on top. Easier said than done. Keeping Culley around gives Caserio the control he needs to reshape this roster and culture into something resembling what he can hang his hat on in his first GM job. There's a reason he got a six-year deal as a first time GM, but Culley only got a five-year deal as a first-time head coach. Caserio is seen as the guy who'll be responsible for the future of this franchise. Culley is a temporary incubator of what Caserio is trying to cultivate. This team will soon be in the hands of the guy Caserio sees as the long-term solution along the sidelines.

The Titans are holding it down now with the Colts trying to maintain relevance and knock them off. The Jags are the caboose with the Texans just ahead of them. Nobody has turned themselves into the Patriots of the last couple decades in the AFC East...yet. It's definitely possible, but it hasn't been executed. Can the Texans beat the Titans and the Colts to the punch? Will the Jags ever get themselves together long enough to be a factor? Only time will tell. Culley will be on the sidelines and in pressers next season. Some in the media will have a field day with his quirks for another season. Meanwhile, Caserio will be plotting on the long-term future of this franchise. He'll be looking at potential coaching candidates, scouting college for draft picks, and examining other NFL rosters for free agent/trade possibilities. Let the games begin. May the odds forever be in Texans' fans favor.

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Composite image by Jack Brame

What will the Houston Texans do in the NFL Draft? What are the options for the Houston Texans with the 3rd overall pick? Sports Illustrated Texans Reporter and NFL Draft Analyst Cole Thompson joined ESPN Houston's Jake Asman, Cody Stoots, and Brad Kellner to discuss on The Wheelhouse.

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