Lovie Smith Named Texans Head Coach to Replace David Culley

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 7, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 07: Defensive coordinator Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans looks on during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on November 07, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Houston Texans hired Lovie Smith as head coach on Monday, with Pep Hamilton also being promoted to offensive coordinator.

Houston general manager Nick Caserio discussed the hiring in a statement:

"I am excited to introduce Lovie Smith as our next head coach. He is one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and an established leader. A proven winner, Lovie has shown the ability to develop players both on and off the field for years. We had numerous discussions with countless coaches, executives, and players, and what revealed itself is that Lovie has both the leadership and people skills it takes to lead us forward. We both understand how much work is in front of us, but we embrace the responsibility and look forward to continuing to build a program that can have sustained success."

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Field Yates first reported the news of Smith's hiring.

The Houston position was open after the Texans fired David Culley on Jan. 13 following just one season. While the 66-year-old went only 4-13 in 2021, he was working in a difficult situation that would have been challenging for any coach.

Houston hired Culley after a 4-12 mark in 2020 that saw Romeo Crennel take over as the interim head coach when Bill O'Brien was fired four games into the season.

Culley's job was made more complicated when Deshaun Watson requested a trade during the offseason.

In addition, 22 women filed lawsuits accusing the 26-year-old of sexual assault or misconduct, and the team made him inactive throughout the 2021 campaign because of his legal situation.

Replacement signal-caller Tyrod Taylor appeared in just six games because of injury, which forced rookie Davis Mills into action.

While the 23-year-old showed flashes of his potential at times during his first season, Houston likely didn't envision him having such a major role right away when it selected him with a third-round pick.

The result was a 4-13 record, the second straight season the Texans finished with four wins.

It was a far cry from the back-to-back playoff appearances of 2018 and 2019, and the Smith comes into a situation with plenty of uncertainty and an overall talent level that falls short of several other AFC contenders.

Whether he can turn things around, and how quickly he can do so, will determine whether his tenure is seen as a success or failure for a franchise that has never advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs.

Smith will surely be motivated to succeed in his return to a head coaching job for the first time since the 2015 campaign.

He is best known for his tenure with the Chicago Bears, which lasted from 2004 through 2012 and included one trip to the Super Bowl and three playoff appearances. Smith posted an 81-63 record during his nine years with the Bears while leading teams that were best known for their defensive prowess.

Smith's time as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not go as well, as evidenced by his 8-24 record in 2014 and 2015.

The veteran coach is familiar with the Texans from his time as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator in 2021 and will look to build a winner like he did in Chicago and put his struggles with Tampa Bay into the rearview mirror.

Other finalists for the job appeared to be former quarterback Josh McCown and former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who each interviewed with the team twice. Flores is currently suing the NFL and its teams for discriminatory hiring practices.