While the Texans strongly considered former quarterback Josh McCown for the job, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports the franchise ultimately decided not to go in that direction. McCown does not have any coaching experience. Ex-Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores was also a candidate for the job, according to multiple reports.
Smith just wrapped up his first season with Houston, and while he's long been considered an option by the Texans, talks with him recently picked up as the franchise nears the end of its process, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The 2005 NFL Coach of the Year, Smith is widely known for his nine-year stint with the Chicago Bears where he won the NFC North three times and took the Bears to Super Bowl XLI. While Chicago fell to the Indianapolis Colts, that Super Bowl was the first to feature two Black head coaches.
Smith had just three losing seasons during his tenure with the Bears and was fired after going 10-6 in 2012, compiling an 81-63 record with the franchise. After taking a year off, he was hired to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was fired after going 8-24 in two seasons.
Wanting to remain a head coach, Smith returned to the college ranks in 2016 when he took over at Illinois. He led the Illini for four seasons, going 17-39 overall during his tenure. He was fired after a 2-5 start in 2020, which led to his return to the NFL to lead the Texans' defense under last year's coach, David Culley.
The 63-year-old defensive mind has the experience and leadership necessary to help orchestrate a turnaround in Houston, though it will be a challenging task. He would become the the second minority coach hired this cycle as the Dolphins landed San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel on Sunday.
The anticipated hire of Smith means that New Orleans is the only team remaining in the coaching market. The Saints have reportedly interviewed six candidates with one -- Doug Pederson -- already being named head coach in Jacksonville. The NFL pushed back the league calendar to accommodate the addition of Week 18, and that has had a direct impact on the hiring process. A year ago, the first head coaching hire was made Jan. 14 and the final hire was made Jan. 29.