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Houston Texans hire Lovie Smith as head coach

The Houston Texans have hired Lovie Smith as their next head coach, the team announced Monday.

Smith was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Texans last season.

“[Smith] is one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and an established leader,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said in a statement released by the team. We’ve had many discussions with countless coaches, executives and players, and what has come to light is that Lovie has both the leadership and the people skills to take us forward. We both understand the amount of work ahead of us, but we take responsibility. responsibility and we look forward to continuing to build a program that can have lasting success.”

Smith replaces David Culley, who was fired by the Texans in mid-January, less than a year after being hired. Under Smith, Houston’s defense ranked 23rd in Football Outsiders defense-adjusted value over average, but recorded 25 takeaways in 2021.

“I am honored to be the next head coach of the Houston Texans and incredibly excited to continue working with Nick,” Smith said in a statement. “I have so many friends, family, teammates and coaches to thank for supporting me and helping me to continue doing what I love which is teaching and developing players. I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and this city to develop a championship. I am ready to put in the work and build it together.”

Smith was previously an NFL head coach with the Chicago Bears (2004 to 2012) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014 to 2015). He joined Culley’s team 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 Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins, Robert Saleh of the New York Jets, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders as the league’s only minority head coaches.

The Texans’ selection of Smith and the Dolphins’ hiring of McDaniel came after former Miami head coach Brian Flores filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL, Dolphins, New York and the Denver Broncos last week during interview processes in New York and Denver. and his removal from Miami.

Seven of the nine head coaching positions this hiring cycle have been or are expected to be filled by white candidates.

Attorneys for Flores, who interviewed twice and were finalists for the Texans job, released a statement after Smith’s hiring announcement.

“Mr. Flores is pleased to hear that the Texans have hired a black head coach, Lovie Smith, because Mr. Flores’ goal in presenting his case is to provide real opportunities for black and minority applicants to be considered. for coaching and management positions in the NFL,” said Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis. “However, we would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the job. head coach of the Texans and, after a great interview and mutual interest, it’s obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores wasn’t selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality in the NFL. “

The Texans will not receive draft pick compensation by hiring Smith. Under the Rooney Rule, teams receive two third-round league picks for the development of a minority assistant who is hired for a job in head coaching. However, because Smith is not leaving for another team and has not been on Houston staff for two years, the Texans will not receive compensation.

Houston also announced that it has promoted Pep Hamilton from quarterbacks coach and passing play coordinator to offensive coordinator, and retained Frank Ross as special teams coordinator.

“The last two seasons have been disappointing, but I believe in Nick Caserio’s vision for the future of our football team and I see the pieces falling into place,” said Texans president and general manager Cal. McNair, in a statement. “Our goal here is to create an environment that is conducive to day-to-day winning and competing for championships. I have had extreme respect for Lovie for years now and that has only grown with the work that he did last season and throughout that process.

Caserio decided to leave Culley after the Texans won four games — the same number the team won in 2020 under interim coach Romeo Crennel — and did so without quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson was on the Texans’ active roster, but he was ruled out healthy for all 17 games. Watson, who filed for a trade in January 2021, faces 22 lawsuits for sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

Even without trading Watson, the Texans have their highest draft pick since drafting Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick in 2014. Houston’s 4-13 record in 2021 earned the team the pick. No. 3, his first first-round pick since 2019.

Houston interviewed seven candidates for its head coaching opening: Smith, Flores, 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 and former Steelers wide. Hines Ward, receiver and current Florida Atlantic receivers coach.