The Houston Texans fired head coach Lovie Smith on Sunday night, hours after the team finished 3-13-1 in its first season.
“We are grateful for that [Smith’s] “Drive and character, and we wish him every success moving forward,” Chairman and CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. Although we understand that the results were not what we had hoped, we are committed to building a program that results in long-term, sustainable success. Our fans and our city deserve a team they can be proud of.”
The Texans have now released back-to-back coaches after just one year, having ousted David Cooley the previous January. Smith was defensive coordinator and assistant coach for Colley in 2021, and was promoted to head coach on February 7.
“I constantly evaluate our football operations and believe this is the best decision we have made at this time,” General Manager Nick Caserio said in a statement. “It is my responsibility to build a comprehensive, competitive program that can sustain success over a long period of time. We are not there now, however, with the support of the McNair family and the resources at our disposal, I am confident in the direction of our football program going forward.”
McNair said he would work with Caserio to “find the right captain for our football team”.
The Texans finished their season with a win, beating the Indianapolis Colts 32-31 earlier Sunday, and have played competitively in four of their last five games. With the win combined with the Chicago Bears’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings, they secured second place overall and the Bears finished first in the 2023 NFL Draft.
“We understand the entire season based on what’s going on,” Smith said after the win over the Colts. “Do I expect to be back? Yes, I expect to be back.”
The Texans now begin their search for their fourth head coach in four seasons. Former head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien was fired after going 0-4 to begin the 2020 season after completing six full seasons. The Texans then hired Caserio as their new general manager in 2021, who hired Culley. Culley went 4-13 in 2021 and was fired after one season.
The last team to have four different head coaches in consecutive seasons was the San Francisco 49ers, who unseated Jim Harbaugh in 2014, then hired Jim Tomsola in 2015, Chip Kelly in 2016, and Kyle Shanahan in 2017.
Cooley and Smith were the only black coaches in franchise history, and now Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins), Robert Saleh (New York Jets), and Ron Rivera (Washington Leaders) remain the only head coaches of color.
The Texans’ season opened with a 20-20 tie against the Colts in overtime after they blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, with Smith playing to tie the game in overtime to avoid the loss.
The Texans were competitive in games in the first half of the season, but fourth quarter struggles continued to be a theme. The Texans failed to score a point in four of their six games in the fourth quarter.
And despite Smith coming from the defensive side of the ball, the Texans ranked last in peak yards allowed after finishing second in 2021. They also ranked 30th in yards surrendered at 24.7 points per game, 27th in the NFL. On the offensive side, they are second to last in points scored per game (16).
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