Houston Texans expected to hire Lovie Smith as head coach, sources say

The Houston Texans are expected to hire Lovie Smith as their next head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates on Monday.

Smith was the Texans’ associate head coach and defensive coordinator this past season.

Smith replaces David Culley, who was fired by the Texans in mid-January, less than one year after he was hired. Under Smith, Houston’s defense ranked 23rd in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average but had 25 takeaways in 2021.

Smith was previously an NFL head coach with the Chicago Bears (2004-12) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014-15). He joined Culley’s staff after being fired after five seasons as head coach at the University of Illinois.

Smith has an 89-87 record as an NFL head coach and was the 2005 AP Coach of the Year.

Smith, who is Black, joins the Miami Dolphins‘ Mike McDaniel, New York Jets‘ Robert Saleh, Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Mike Tomlin and Washington Commanders‘ Ron Rivera as the league’s only minority head coaches.

After Culley was fired on Jan. 13, Texans general manager Nick Caserio did not commit to Smith returning as defensive coordinator, but said he had “a lot of respect and appreciation for what Lovie did this season.”

“I think Lovie’s a good coach and I think he’s done a lot for our program and our system and our players have a lot of belief in him,” Caserio said.

Caserio decided to move on from Culley after the Texans won four games — the same number the team did in 2020 under interim coach Romeo Crennel — and did it without quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson was on the Texans’ active roster but was a healthy scratch for all 17 games. Watson, who requested a trade last January, faces 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

Even without trading Watson, the Texans have their highest draft pick since they drafted Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick in 2014. Houston’s 4-13 record in 2021 netted them the No. 3 pick, just their first pick in the first round since 2019.

Houston interviewed seven candidates for the opening: Smith, former NFL quarterback Josh McCown, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, and former Steelers wide receiver and current Florida Atlantic receivers coach Hines Ward.

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