The Houston Texans fired coach Lovie Smith Sunday night, hours after the team finished 3-13-1 in its first season.
“We are grateful to [Smith’s] leadership and character, and we wish him the best moving forward,” Chairman and CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. “While we understand that the results have not been what we hoped for, we are committed to building a program that produces long-term, lasting success. Our fans and our city deserve a team they can be proud of.”
The Texans have now fired back-to-back coaches after just one year, having ousted David Culley last January. Smith was the defensive coordinator and associate head coach on Culley’s 2021 staff, and was elevated to head coaching on Feb. 7.
“I am constantly evaluating our football operation and I believe this is the best decision for us at this time,” general manager Nick Caserio said in a statement. “It is my responsibility to build a comprehensive and competitive program that can sustain success over a long period of time. We are not there at this time, however, with the support of the McNair family and the resources available to us, I am confident in the direction of our football program moving forward.”
McNair said he would work with Caserio to “find the right leader for our football team.”
The Texans finished their season with a win, beating the Indianapolis Colts 32-31 earlier on Sunday, and had played competitively in four of their last five games. With the Chicago Bears’ win and loss to the Minnesota Vikings, they earned the second overall pick and the Bears clinched the first for the 2023 NFL Draft.
“We understand the whole season about what’s going on,” Smith said after the win over the Colts. “Do I expect to be back? Yes, I expect to be back.”
The Texans now begin their search for their fourth head coach in four seasons. Former coach and general manager Bill O’Brien was fired after starting 0-4 to start the 2020 season after completing six full seasons. Then the Texans hired Caserio as their new general manager in 2021, who hired Culley. Culley went 4-13 in 2021 and was fired after one season.
The last team to have four different head coaches in consecutive seasons was the San Francisco 49ers, who ousted Jim Harbaugh in 2014 and then hired Jim Tomsula in 2015, Chip Kelly in 2016 and Kyle Shanahan in 2017.
Culley and Smith were the only black coaches in franchise history, and now Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins), Robert Saleh (New York Jets) and Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders) remain the only colored head coaches.
The Texans’ season started with a 20-20 tie against the Colts in overtime after losing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, where Smith played to the overtime tie to avoid a loss.
The Texans were competitive in games the first half of the season, but fourth quarter struggles continued to be a theme. The Texans failed to score a run in four of the first six games of the fourth quarter.
And although Smith came on the defensive side of the ball, the Texans ranked last in yards allowed after being second-to-last in 2021. They were also 30th in yards allowed and gave up 24.7 points per game, 27th in the NFL. On the offensive side, they were second to last in points scored per game (16).