The Houston Texans already have Ken Whisenhunt squarely on the radar for their head coaching vacancy and are expected to interview the San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator at the soonest chance possible, league sources said.
Houston also has some level of interest in former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, Stanford head coach David Shaw and Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips, among others.
Texans general manager Rick Smith and Whisenhunt got to know each other well from the one year they spent together working on the NFL's competition committee. Smith and Whisenhunt formed a bond, shared a respect of each other's work, and stayed in touch, the sources said.
The Texans, who have the NFL's worst record at 2-11, fired coach Gary Kubiak on Friday after suffering their 11th straight loss, falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Texans owner Bob McNair made it clear Friday that he wants to hire someone with head coaching experience, which is one more area in which Whisenhunt would fit Houston's qualifications.
Whisenhunt was the Arizona Cardinals' coach from 2007-12 and joined the Chargers after being fired by Arizona following a 5-11 season in 2012. He was 45-51 overall with the Cardinals and led them to Super Bowl XLIII, where Arizona fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Chargers are ranked fourth in total offense this season under Whisenhunt's guidance, averaging 401.6 yards per game entering Sunday's action.