In 2019, the Houston Texans defeated the Buffalo Bills to advance to a Divisional Round game against the Kansas City Chiefs for the opportunity to play in the AFC Championship Game. Head coach Bill O’Brien signed an extension in 2018 and took over personnel prior to the 2019 season, which appeared to be working. They possessed a 24-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback, an All-Pro receiver in peak form, and possibly the best defensive player in football (when healthy).

Between that postseason loss to the Chiefs in January 2020 and this playoff run in January 2024, Houston has endured a nightmare of their own creation, turning over the whole team in an attempt to overcome every blunder.

After signing quarterback DeShaun Watson to a hefty four-year contract just before the opening, the Texans struggled in 2020, losing four straight games and firing O’Brien in the middle of the season. They were 1-6 at the bye, and insiders speculated that they could move J.J. Watt, who was in the final year of his contract. The team finished 4-12 following two straight AFC South victories the previous two seasons, and they traded receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts

With reports circling about the distaste of Texans executive vice president Jack Easterby, who took over handling the team’s personnel when O’Brien was fired, the Texans were able to acquire well-known Patriots personnel man Nick Caserio as general manager in January 2021. Houston had a difficult time filling their head coaching opening, eventually deciding on David Culley, who had never worked as a coordinator in the NFL.

A few months later, Watson was accused of sexual assault by a Houston massage therapist, setting the stage for dozens more allegations. Because no criminal charges were filed against Watson, the NFL did not suspend him for the 2021 season; yet, the Texans did not play him. They maintained him on the 53-man roster but did not dress him for a game.

Without Hopkins, Watson, and Watt, the team finished 4-13, with stopgaps in many spots. They were 30th in both points scored and points against. They sacked Culley, who was widely deemed ineffective in almost every way a head coach could be judged.

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