Where's the Love? Photo by Getty Images.
When the Texans got rid of David Culley after one season, eyes immediately fixated on general manager Nick Caserio. Caserio made the bizarre Culley hire last offseason and had moved on from him with the prospect of hiring their new, presumably long term, head coach.
Rumors and speculation were running rampant on who’d get the job. People were choosing sides and collectively losing their minds. It really got tense when Josh McCown was assumed to be the next hire. It was a bad enough Culley was seen as a placeholder because he didn’t have any previous head coaching experience. Hell, he hasn’t even been a coordinator before! McCown was seen as a similar hire with buddy ties to Jack Easterby. Anyone associated with Easterby is pariah adjacent.
The shock when Lovie Smith was not only retained, but promoted to the head coaching gig was awesome! People were caught off guard because they got sucked into the rumor vortex and believed McCown, Brian Flores, or Jonathan Gannon were the finalists. (Mostly because that's what the Texans posted on their own social media platforms). When reports started circulating about Smith, lines were drawn and people took sides.
Some thought it was a great hire because of the yeoman’s work he did with the defense. Others were upset because the guy they wanted wasn’t hired. The subsets within are even crazier. Personally, I’m happy Smith was given the opportunity and believe he can lead this team through the rebuild and beyond.
When rebuilding a team, it’s void of talent. The best way to rebuild is through the draft so you have tons of young cheap talent and don’t over spend on vets. You want a mix of vets to help the youngsters along, but the right kind of vets who understand the goal. Lovie is the guy for this type of rebuild.
He’s been a head coach previously. He may only be slightly above .500 for his career, but he’s also brought a team to a Super Bowl and coached six playoff games (3-3). He’s been a coach and coordinator on the NFL and college levels. At 63 years old, he’s been around the game long enough to understand it, but has achieved players' coach status. That was evident when current Texans spoke highly of him after his hire.
If Caserio did his due diligence and settled on Smith, it was by design. He’s a smart enough guy to know the impact this hire would have and made his choice. He’s coming into his second year of a six-year deal. Getting this hire wrong could cut short his first GM gig and may even preclude him from getting another one. Why would he hire another placeholder as coach? That doesn’t make sense.
If Caserio believes in him, so does ownership. When the players expressed they believed in him and nobody had a bad word to say about him, that tells me he’s a man of integrity. An underrated part of this hire was keeping Pep Hamilton. He will man the offense while Smith handles the defense. It’ll be Caserio’s job to give them the ingredients to cook the right meal. I can see the three of them working well together.
I love Lovie and I love this hire. I truly believe he will lead this team to its next playoff appearance, provided Caserio does a good enough job of acquiring talent. If he can do what he did this past season with a defense void of much talent, imagine what he can do with a few more weapons? Let’s see how it goes this season and next. While I’m not expecting an 8-10 win season next year, I do expect an improvement. If they find a franchise quarterback and build around him, I can see playoffs within two to three years. I love Lovie! How about you?