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The Texans got a jump on the rest of the league in their pursuit of a new head coach for 2021 by firing coach and general manager Bill O'Brien last week, with ownership contracting a search firm and also reaching out to key individuals for input on the process.

Specifically, owner Cal McNair has already talked to starting quarterback Deshaun Watson about the direction of the team going forward and solicited his opinion, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. While Watson will not be a formal part of the team that chooses the next coach -- and McNair intends to hire the GM first -- the owner does value very much the feedback of his highest-paid player, and sources said Watson has already advocated for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

Watson shares a strong bond with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and the two already faced off again in Week 1 after meeting in the playoffs a year ago. Mahomes is a big proponent of the work Bieniemy has done on Andy Reid's staff as he has quickly blossomed into arguably the premier player in the game. Bieniemy has been a top coaching candidate in recent years, and his inability to land a job despite Reid's unwavering support for him and despite his work calling plays for what looks like a historic NFL offense has been a heavy topic of discussion in league circles.

Finding someone to guide Watson through his prime years is imperative for this franchise, as is finally finding a coupling of coach and GM who can work well together. Bieniemy played a key role in Kansas City winning the Super Bowl last year, and his team enters play Sunday undefeated. Bieniemy will be atop many head coaching lists, but few jobs if any will provide the opportunity to work with a quarterback as talented as Watson, and the young quarterback's voice with the owner should not be discounted.

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will also be strongly linked to the job, with McNair seeking a quarterback guru.