Houston Texans fire head coach Lovie Smith after just one season

By Grant Gordon, Digital Content Editor

The Houston Texans fired head coach Lovie Smith following Sunday’s regular-season finale after only one year with him at the helm, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported.

Smith’s dismissal marks the second straight year in which the Texans have fired their head coach after one season after David Culley was let go following the 2021 campaign.

Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair later announced Sunday night that the organization was “moving in a different direction.”

“I appreciate Coach Smith and his entire family for their contributions over the last two seasons,” McNair said. “We are grateful for his leadership and character, and we wish him the best moving forward. While we understand the results have not been what we had hoped for, we are committed to building a program that produces long-term, sustainable success. Our fans and city deserve a team that they can be proud of. I will work alongside Nick Caserio throughout this process and I’m confident we will find the right leader for our football team.”

The Texans promoted Smith to the main job ahead of the 2022 season after David Culley was fired after one year as well, in an effort to turn things around with a young, rebuilding squad. But Smith, who spent 2021 as Houston’s associate HC and defensive coordinator, was not able to improve upon the team’s record from the previous year, and Houston ended the season 3-13-1, which was the second-worst record in the league.

Smith, however, will leave Houston a winner after the Texans rallied to beat the Colts on Sunday — a win that cost the organization the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Smith’s future with the franchise was very much up in the air ahead of the team’s season finale, Rapoport and NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Saturday.

Smith was one of six minority head coaches in the NFL during the 2022 season (not including interim coaches).

Following a nine-season tenure with the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012 that included a Super Bowl appearance, and a two-season stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014-2015, Smith went to the college ranks and coached at Illinois for five seasons. He returned to the NFL as an assistant coach for Houston in 2021 before taking over for Culley in 2022.

As the Texans continue a franchise reconstruction, they will begin a search for a fourth full-time head coach in as many years. Bill O’Brien was fired amid the 2020 season (and replaced by interim head coach Romeo Crennel), opening the door for Culley, who went 4-13, and then Smith.

Whomever the next head coach is, he will likely be tasked with finding the next franchise quarterback. It’s likely the club will not settle with Davis Mills, who was drafted in 2021, and in a tumultuous 2022 campaign failed to seize an opportunity left in the wake of the franchise trading quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns.

There is promising young talent on the roster from a nine-selection 2022 NFL Draft class, led by second-round safety Jalen Pitre and fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce. Pierce, however, ended his season on injured reserve and first-round picks cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (No. 3 overall) and offensive lineman Kenyon Green (No. 15) have likewise had injury troubles and at times underwhelming play.

The selection of Stingley is also clouded by the Texans making him the first cornerback taken ahead of the New York Jets picking Sauce Gardner, who’s a frontrunner for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The team was also dealt a blow prior to the season starting with second-round wide receiver John Metchie‘s diagnosis of a treatable form of leukemia.

As losses mounted this season, wide receiver Brandin Cooks — likely the team’s best veteran talent — was on the trade block but stayed put and was ultimately stripped of his team captaincy.

Smith lasted just one season with the Texans, but it was certainly an eventful one – largely for unfortunate reasons.

Now Caserio, who has multiple first-round picks again in 2023, and the club will start anew once again with a fresh face at head coach set for next season.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major