HOUSTON – Lovie Smith was fired as coach of the Houston Texans on Sunday night after just one season in which the team went 3-13-1.
This is the second season in a row that the Texans have fired a coach after only a year. They parted ways with David Calley last January after he went 4-13 in his only season.
“I’m constantly evaluating our football performance and I believe this is the best decision for us at the moment,” general manager Nick Caserio said in a statement announcing the team’s parting ways with Smith. “I am responsible for creating a comprehensive and competitive program that can sustain success over a long period of time. However, we are not there now, with the support of the family (team owner) McNair and the resources available to us. I am confident that our football program will move forward.”
Smith was asked about his future after Sunday’s Indianapolis game and seemed confident he would be back next season.
“We understand the whole season,” he said. Do I expect to return? Yes, I will definitely be back.”
A few hours later he was out of work.
The Texans had the worst record in the league for most of the season, but won two of their last three games, culminating in Sunday’s victory over the Colts that cost the team the first overall pick in the following year’s draft. A 32–31 win over Indianapolis gave Chicago the top pick and Houston was second in the April draft.
Davis Mills connected with Jordan Akins for a 28-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left on Sunday against the Colts. Mills then found Akins again for a two-point conversion that put the Texans in first place forever.
Smith, 64, was one of the few black coaches in the NFL along with Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles and Miami’s Biracial Mike McDaniel. The league requires teams to interview at least one minority head coach candidate, but it has long since missed its goal of having more black coaches in a league where the majority of players are black.
Callie, who is also black, spent over 40 years as a college and NFL assistant before being hired to coach the Texans.
This is the third time since the merger that a team has fired its head coach after just one season in a row. The 49ers fired Monte Clark, Ken Meyer and Pete McCully in consecutive seasons from 1976 to 1978 before the team fired Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly in 2015 and 2016.
Smith was named head coach after serving as the team’s defensive coordinator for one season. The 2022 season was his 12th as a head coach, and he has a 92-100-1 career record that includes nine seasons with the Bears and two with Tampa Bay.
Texans owner Cal McNair said in a statement that he and Caserio briefed Smith on the move Sunday night and thanked him for his “contribution over the past two seasons.”
“We are grateful for his leadership and character and wish him all the best for the future,” McNair said. “While we understand that the results have not been what we hoped for, we are committed to creating a program that will ensure long-term and sustainable success. Our fans and the city deserve a team they can be proud of. I will work with Nick. Caserio throughout this process and I am confident that we will find the right leader for our football team.”
His dismissal would give the Texans their fourth head coach in as many years. Callie was hired after coach Bill O’Brien was fired after losing the first four games of 2020 in his seventh season in Houston.
This is the second time the Texans have fired a coach in just a year. Dom Capers was the team’s first coach and spent four seasons at the helm before he was fired. Gary Kubiak took over and he was fired in his eighth season.
This season marked Houston’s third with a losing record after the team went 4–12 in 2020. This season comes after they won the AFC South in the previous two seasons.
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