INDIANAPOLIS — Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith expects to return in 2023 after finishing 3-13-1 in his first season.
The Texans finished their season with a win after beating the Indianapolis Colts 32-31 in Week 18 and played competitively in four of their last five games.
“We understand the totality of the season on what’s going on,” Smith said postgame. “Do I expect to be back? Yes, I expect to be back.”
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Smith “could be on shaky ground” back on Dec. 14 when the Texans were 1-11-1. Multiple league sources told ESPN they expected the Houston Texans job to be open.
“First of all there are reports. I don’t know what those reports are,” Smith said. “Yeah I met with Cal [McNair] every Monday. I met with him this past Monday. So, we talk about what happened in the last game.”
The Texans have played well down the stretch of the season, as they battled the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 to the last play before losing 27-23. The following week, they took the Kansas City Chiefs to overtime before losing 30-24.
The Texans carried the momentum of those moral victories and defeated their divisional rival in the Tennessee Titans in Week 16 and closed the season out with a win against the Colts.
With the Texans’ win along with the Chicago Bears’ 29-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Texans earned the No. 2 overall pick and the Bears clinched the No. 1 overall pick for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Smith said there was zero consideration of trying not to win in an attempt to secure the No. 1 overall pick.
“This is an option that I had. So you say, ‘Hey guys … all that you’ve been working for your life, you play to win, forget that. Lose the game on purpose.'” Smith said. “That will be a hard one to get by. They won’t expect me to say that. I didn’t. What we work on each week, our game plan, has been to win the game. It’s kind of simple as that . That’s what we follow through on the day …
“It’s pretty simple. We play to win the game. It’s kind of simple as that.”
If the Texans were to fire Smith, they would head into next year with a new head coach for the fourth consecutive season.
Former coach and GM Bill O’Brien was fired after starting 0-4 to begin the 2020 season after completing six full seasons. Romeo Crennel took over and went 4-8 for the rest of the year. Then the Texans hired Nick Caserio as their new GM in 2021, who hired David 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 had Jim Harbaugh in 2014, Jim Tomsula in 2015, Chip Kelly in 2016 and Kyle Shanahan in 2017.