After a long and often unpredictable search for a new head coach, the Texans have found their man, announcing a deal with former Bears and Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith on Monday, after CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones and CBS Sports HQ's Josina Anderson reported the sides were finalizing a contract. The 63-year-old Smith, who spent 2021 as Houston's associate head coach and defensive coordinator, only recently emerged as a candidate for the Texans' vacancy but outlasted reported finalists Josh McCown and ex-Dolphins coach Brian Flores for the job.
Smith was one of the most experienced hires of previous head coach David Culley, who was dismissed after just one season on the job. He oversaw one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2021, with Houston ranking 31st in yards allowed per game, but offers plenty of head coaching experience, having previously led the Bears (2004-2012), Buccaneers (2014-2015) and University of Illinois (2016-2020). That means he'll be starting his fourth tenure as a pro or college head coach in 2022.
Smith is best known for his nine-year run in Chicago, when he took over a Bears team that had posted back-to-back losing seasons and advanced to the playoffs in just his second season. He peaked during his third year with the organization, leading the Bears to a 13-3 finish and Super Bowl appearance, during which Chicago fell to Peyton Manning and the Colts. Smith's Bears missed the postseason in five of his final six years on the job, while he later went just 8-24 in two years with the Buccaneers. As the coach of Illinois from 2016-2020, Smith posted a combined record of 17-39, with only one bowl-game appearance.
The other reported finalists for the Texans' job included McCown, a former journeyman quarterback with zero NFL coaching experience; Flores, who has an active class-action lawsuit against NFL owners alleging racial discrimination in their hiring process; and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who just finished his first season as a coordinator.