Why did the Texans hire Lovie Smith? Houston settles on continuity after strange coaching search

It was widely believed that the Texans would select one of three finalists — Brian Flores, Josh McCown or Jonathan Gannon — to be their next head coach. Instead, they tapped Lovie Smith as the successor to David Culley.

Smith served as the Texans’ defensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2021. While Houston had a bottom-six defense in both yards and points allowed, Smith helped them to finish with the 10th-most takeaways in the NFL. That was a big achievement considering the dearth of talent the team had on that side of the ball.

Now, Smith will get a third crack at being an NFL head coach. He previously coached the Bears for 11 years from 2004 through 2012 and spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons in charge of the Buccaneers.

But why did the Texans roll with Smith when it didn’t even seem like he was in the running for the job? Here’s an explanation for Houston’s decision.

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Why did the Texans hire Lovie Smith?

The Texans landed on Smith as their successor for Culley in a roundabout way.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Texans were consulting with Smith about potential head coaching candidates during their search. However, they eventually realized that he was the person they wanted to lead the Texans.

“At some point, the search went from, ‘OK, let’s have Lovie Smith talk about these candidates with us’ to ‘maybe Lovie Smith is the candidate,'” Rapoport said. “That is where they are right now.”

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As such, the Texans moved to finalize a deal with Smith. That will give the young team some continuity within the coaching staff.

Part of that will be on the defensive side of the ball with Smith. That said, the more important piece of that will be on offense.

The Texans are expected to keep quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton around and promote him to offensive coordinator. Hamilton did excellent work with Davis Mills in 2021 after helping Justin Herbert with Rookie of the Year in 2020, so his staying will be critical to Mills’ development.

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It’s also worth noting that Smith has had success as an NFL coach. He led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2006 NFL season and has a career record of 89-87. He had at least 10 wins in four seasons and had a 3-3 postseason record.

Smith also spent five years as a college coach at Illinois from 2016 through 2020. He logged just a 17-39 record with the Fighting Illini.

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