The Texans have followed through with a move which was expected leading up to the conclusion of the 2022 season.
Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network report that head coach Lovie Smith has been fired (Twitter link). A team announcement has confirmed it.
The decision to part ways makes Smith the second consecutive one-and-done bench boss in Houston.
The 64-year-old was tapped as David Culley‘s replacement last year, after he led the team to a 4-13 record. Things were not expected to be much better for the franchise in 2022, and they certainly were not.
Smith represented a highly experienced option compared to Culley in particular, given the former’s two previous HC gigs in the NFL.
The first of those, a nine-year stint with the Bears, was highlighted by a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. Overall, he amassed a record of 81-63 in the Windy City, leading him to a brief stay in Tampa Bay. That, however, did not go according to plan as the Buccaneers went 8-24 under Smith.
The veteran coach received a third opportunity to lead a team last season with his promotion from DC of the Texans, a role he held for one season prior. His ascension to the top spot on the sidelines came during a time in which the organization was under fire for their handling of the search for Culley’s replacement.
Houston had reportedly narrowed their search to Eagles DC Jonathon Gannon, former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and recently-retired quarterback Josh McCown. The latter’s distinct lack of experience was a main talking point in the wake of Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit.
The Texans pivoted late in the process to Smith, who was unable to turn (generally) consistent effort from one of the league’s least-talented rosters into much in the win-loss column.
Houston finished this season with a 3-13-1 record, including a last-minute win earlier today to drop them from first to second overall in the draft order. The AFC South outfit ranked last in the league in total offense, and 30th in total defense.
With the team in need of a long-term answer at quarterback after Davis Mills failed to take a step forward in Year 2 relative to an encouraging rookie season, Houston does have some otherwise attractive qualities.
Those include the No. 2 pick which will likely be used to address the QB position, another first-rounder owing to the Deshaun Watson trade, and a favorable cap situation.
The recent turnover on the sidelines the franchise has experienced will, on the other hand, likely scare off at least some potential candidates.
One of those could be former Texans linebacker and current 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans, who was named recently as a logical replacement in the event Smith were to be fired.
The latter had publicly spoken out earlier Sunday against the notion he would be dismissed, but those comments have proven to be fruitless.
Attention will now turn to the job security of GM Nick Caserio, something which has become a matter of debate recently.
In a statement, the latter said in part, “On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Lovie Smith for everything he has contributed to our team over the last two seasons as a coach and a leader. I’m constantly evaluating our football operation and believe this is the best decision for us at this time… With the support of the McNair family and the resources available to us, I’m confident in the direction of our program moving forward.”
Caserio appears to be safe for the time being, but the Texans remain in a state of flux heading into the 2023 coaching cycle.
Given his age and lack of success in Houston, it remains to be seen if Smith will pursue other coaching opportunities down the road, either in the NFL or college ranks.
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