Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has been impressing ownership with his stellar work with quarterback Deshaun Watson since the firing of overbearing head coach Bill O'Brien, sources said, and making a strong case to retained as part of the new staff Cal McNair is assembling.
McNair is overseeing a search for a new coach and general manager, and sweeping changes are coming to the organization. But it is not out of the question that the incoming head coach is urged -- or more -- to keep certain assistants on the staff, as Jerry Jones did with young coordinator Kellen Moore continuing to work with Dak Prescott as new coach Mike McCarthy put together the rest of the staff.
Watson, the single greatest asset in the Texans organization, is having a career year, which would be worthy of MVP consideration if the team were in contention. Especially since O'Brien was fired -- he usurped play-calling duties from Kelly as a last-ditch attempt to keep his job -- Kelly and Watson have flourished, with the quarterback protecting the football, avoiding sacks and continuing to make big plays downfield despite the trade of future Hall of Fame receiver De'Andre Hopkins in the offseason.
Kelly is earning raves internally, sources said, and Watson has also advocated for him. That resonates with ownership. Watson is sixth in the NFL in completion percentage and leads the NFL with a gaudy 8.83 yards per attempt. He is ninth in the NFL in touchdown passes and eighth in interception percentage while ranking third in QB rating (110.0).
Kelly, 34, has been with the Texans since 2014, coming over from Penn State with O'Brien when he left Happy Valley to jump to the NFL. Kelly coached offensive line and tight ends before rising to the offensive coordinator position in 2019 and eventually assuming play-calling duties. Given how many teams will be seeking a new offensive coordinator in 2021, Kelly is well-positioned either way, but it would not be surprising at all at this point if he was still in Houston next season and beyond.