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Lovie Smith Fired After 1 Season as Texans HC; Houston Finished 3-13-1

The Houston Texans sacked head coach Lovie Smith after just one season, just hours after the team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 32-31 on Sunday. The news was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. Rapoport and Tom Pelissero both mentioned Jonathan Gannon of the Philadelphia Eagles and DeMeco Ryans of the San Francisco 49ers as potential replacements for Smith.

Houston concluded with a 3-13-1 record, extending a run of ineptitude. The Texans have won 11 games since making the playoffs in 2019. Though they started Week 18 with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Texans’ victory on Sunday moved them down one slot in the draught order, with the Chicago Bears (3-14) eventually taking the top spot.

Their coaching turnover reflects dysfunction and a lack of long-term direction. With Smith gone, team owner Cal McNair will hire his third coach in three years. That’s not to claim Smith’s dismissal was unexpected. Rapoport and Pelissero stated on Saturday that his status was unknown and that the team’s performance had fallen short of what were already low expectations.

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Furthermore, there were troubling indicators lurking behind the scenes: “According to sources, anger with several parts of Smith’s program, including overall operational issues, has grown in the locker room and elsewhere in the building.

It has spilled over to their finest players, including receiver Brandin Cooks, who was stripped of his captaincy after attempting and failing to sell himself before the November deadline.” Smith appeared to be a stopgap from the minute he was introduced.

The 64-year-old was coming off a forgettable five-year tenure at Illinois when the Fighting Illini went 17-39 and reached one bowl game. The Texans as a team were also in limbo as they acclimated to life without Deshaun Watson.

Due to a weak quarterback class in the 2022 draught, Houston needed to keep its powder dry before identifying a true replacement for Watson after he was traded to the Cleveland Browns. The uncertainty surrounding the three-time Pro Bowler, which dates back to 2021, also made the franchise appear unappealing to prospective coaching prospects.

The question today is how much the Texans’ image has improved given that the stage has been prepared for a serious reconstruction and Jack Easterby has been fired since late October. Easterby, the former executive vice president of football operations, was largely seen as being in over his head and a key source of the organization’s turmoil.

Houston may be an appealing opportunity for the right coach, considering the Texans are essentially a blank slate. With a slew of draught picks and $47.7 million in anticipated salary-cap space, they might drastically change the squad this offseason, according to Spotrac.

Most notably, Houston has finally figured out how to play quarterback. With the No. 2 overall pick, general manager Nick Caserio and his new coach may select either Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or Alabama’s Bryce Young, the consensus top two quarterbacks on the board.

Alternatively, they might select the best available player and later target Kentucky’s Will Levis, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, or another signal-caller. The Miami Dolphins are a perfect illustration of how rebuilding in the NFL does not have to take nearly as long as it does in other sports.

In 2019, Miami stripped its roster down to the studs. It spent extensively in free agency the next offseason and drafted Tua Tagovailoa in the first round. Even the Dolphins, who saw their 2020 win total quadruple from five to ten and nearly make the playoffs, aren’t quite where they anticipated to be at this stage. The Texans have been a laughingstock of late, but that might change if they can find the proper coach and create a solid foundation this spring.

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