With the NFL regular season concluding this weekend, there will be multiple plot lines for fans to follow. For some, it is the playoffs and the chance for the ultimate glory that is the Super Bowl. For others, it is seeing what their teams will do to try to compete for the championship. A key part of that is “Black Monday”, the first day after the conclusion of the regular season when many franchises dismiss their head coaches.
Several franchises already fired the full-time head coach during the season (Carolina, Indianapolis, Denver), and others will make their move after the end of the season. One of those franchises is reportedly Houston. With the team in the driver’s seat to clinch the worst record in the league at 2-13-1, which is worse than the 4-13 debacle of last season, it is not surprising that several analysts speculated that Houston could move on from its current Head Coach, Lovie Smith, despite this being his first season at the helm. However, recent news reports indicate that perhaps a move is more imminent than previous suggested.
Multiple outlets report that Lovie Smith met with Texans’ CEO Cal McNair this week to lobby the organization for another year as the head man. Prior to the David Culley regime in 2021, every Texans’ head coach worked in that position for at least 4 seasons. However, the Texans are currently mired in the worst stretch of football in franchise history. Regardless of the result of the match-up with the Colts, the Texans will finish the worst 2 and 3-year stretches of football in franchise history by wins (currently at 6 and 10 respectively).
While Smith inherited a rebuilding team coming off a 4-13 season, and while some of the younger players on the roster, such as running back Dameon Pierce and rookie safety Jalen Pitre show promise of being future franchise cornerstones, the results of this season do not reflect well on Smith. While reports surfaced that he started the year off showing a slide proclaiming “Houston Texans 2022 World Champions”, the team has not played anywhere close to that.
Additionally, personnel within the organization are frustrated “over many aspects of Smith’s program, including overall operational struggles,” according to NFL Media. The drama over WR Brandin Cooks and the loss of his captaincy after the team failed to trade him in November did little to help the struggling franchise. The struggles of starter Davis Mills also did much to derail the Texans’ season. Smith, the 2005 NFL Coach of the Year, currently has a 91-100-1 career record and has been the head coach for Chicago and Tampa Bay before Houston. Noted for his defense acumen, Smith also serves as Defense Coordinator for the Texans, who rank among the lower tier of the NFL in most defense categories.
At present, the Houston Texans nor Lovie Smith provided any official confirmation of job status after the end of the regular season. That has not stopped speculation about who becomes the 6th full-time head coach in Texans history. San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator and former Texans Linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon (who interviewed for the Texans job last off-season) are two names seen as likely candidates for the job should it come open after “Black Monday.”