The Houston Texans had a chance to change the trajectory of their franchise by hiring a new, dynamic head coach this offseason. Instead, they decided to promote defensive coordinator and head coaching retread Lovie Smith. It was yet another stupid move by a horrible organization.
By virtually all accounts, Smith is a great guy -- and has a tremendous beard -- he's proven himself to be, at best, an average NFL head coach. At worst, he's been a disaster. He coached the Chicago Bears for nine seasons (2004 to 2012), and reached the playoffs three times. The Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI in Smith's third season, but after that made the playoffs once in his final six years on the job.
He took over as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 and went 8-24 before being fired following the 2015 season. He took his talents to the University of Illinois in 2016 and in five seasons managed to set the school's football program back a decade. He went 17-39 overall and 10-33 in the Big Ten over that time. He was fired during the 2020 season after seven games.
The Texans named the 63-year-old Smith their associate head coach and defensive coordinator on March 10, 2021. Under Smith's direction, Houston's defense ranked next to last in yards allowed per game (384.4), and 27th in points allowed (26.6 per game). So yeah, his defense wasn't good. Somehow that performance convinced the Texans that he was their man.
Brian Flores was reportedly a finalist for the Texans job. They should have hired him. Yes, he's currently suing the NFL and several teams for their racial hiring practices, but he also did wonders with a bad Miami Dolphins teams over the last three seasons. Flores went 5-11 in his first season, then 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 this season despite an overall lack of elite talent and some serious front office missteps. The Dolphins were foolish to fire him.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio knows Flores well from their time together with the New England Patriots. He should have been the guy. But even if he wasn't, there were a number of directions Houston could have gone in. They could have been the team to finally give Eric Bieniemy his head coaching shot, or they could have snagged Byron Leftwich, who has tremendous upside. How about Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore? He's young, brilliant and ready to take the next step. Or maybe they could have taken a chance on San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who has become a hot commodity.
Any of those choices would have created buzz and given life to a listless organization. Instead the Texans decided on Smith, whose hiring has been met with a collective yawn around the league.
This is yet another example of how Nick Caserio, Jack Easterby and Cal McNair are leading their organization straight into a ditch.