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Texans fire head coach Lovie Smith after just one season

The Houston Texans fired head coach Lovie Smith following Sunday's regular-season finale after only one year with him at the helm, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported.

Smith's dismissal marks the second straight year in which the Texans have fired their head coach after one season on the job. David Culley was let go following the 2021 campaign.

Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair announced later on Sunday night that the organization was "moving in a different direction."

"I appreciate Coach Smith and his entire family for their contributions over the last two seasons," McNair said. "We are grateful for his leadership and character, and we wish him the best moving forward. While we understand the results have not been what we had hoped for, we are committed to building a program that produces long-term, sustainable success. Our fans and city deserve a team that they can be proud of. I will work alongside Nick Caserio throughout this process and I'm confident we will find the right leader for our football team."

Speaking to reporters Monday evening, McNair said he would take on a more active role in the hiring process while underscoring he had "full confidence" in Caserio.

On multiple instances Monday, Caserio said he would take into consideration potentially stepping away should a new coach be uncomfortable with him remaining as GM.

"I'm grateful to be afforded the opportunity here," he said, "and again, like I said a little bit earlier, if whomever we hire or whomever we decide upon doesn't feel that my role or the position I'm in is appropriate for what we want to do moving forward, I understand that and I can except that."

When asked if he was fearful for his job, Caserio said "it's about accountability. Nobody is happy where we are."

The Texans promoted Smith to head coach ahead of the 2022 season in an effort to turn things around with a young, rebuilding squad. But Smith, who spent 2021 as Houston's associate HC and defensive coordinator, was not able to improve upon the team's record from the previous year, and Houston ended the season 3-13-1, which was the second-worst record in the league.

Smith, however, will leave Houston a winner after the Texans rallied to beat the Colts on Sunday -- a win that moved the Texans from No. 1 to No. 2 in the 2023 NFL Draft order.

Smith's future with the franchise was very much up in the air ahead of the team's season finale, Rapoport and NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Saturday.

Smith was one of six minority head coaches in the NFL during the 2022 season (not including interim coaches).

Following a nine-season tenure with the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012 that included a Super Bowl appearance, and a two-season stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014-2015, Smith went to the college ranks and coached at Illinois for five seasons. He returned to the NFL as an assistant coach for Houston in 2021 before taking over for Culley in 2022.

As the Texans continue a franchise reconstruction, they will begin a search for a fourth permanent head coach in as many seasons. Bill O'Brien was fired during the 2020 season (and replaced by interim head coach Romeo Crennel), opening the door for Culley, who went 4-13, and then Smith.

Whomever the Texans hire as head coach, he will likely be tasked with finding the next franchise quarterback. Davis Mills, a third-round pick in 2021, struggled during a tumultuous 2022 campaign, failing to seize an opportunity left in the wake of the franchise trading quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns.

There is promising young talent on the roster from a nine-selection 2022 NFL Draft class, led by second-round safety Jalen Pitre and fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce. Pierce, however, ended his season on injured reserve. First-round picks cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (No. 3 overall) and offensive lineman Kenyon Green (No. 15) have had their own injury troubles and underwhelmed on the field at times. The Texans selected Stingley one pick ahead of New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, who's a front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Houston was dealt a blow prior to the season starting, with second-round wide receiver John Metchie's diagnosis of a treatable form of leukemia. Metchie did not play this season.

As losses mounted for the Texans, wide receiver Brandin Cooks -- one of the team's top players -- was on the trade block, but stayed put and was later stripped of his team captaincy after criticizing the team publicly and privately.

Caserio said the coaching search this time around would be a bit different from the one in the years past.

"I think including maybe more voices, more people," he said of the differences. "Utilizing the resources that we have in the building. Utilizing our resources throughout the league. Using some of the data and information that might be more available. And I would just say candidly, me allowing other people to be apart of that process because we trust the people that are in the building. I think that's my responsibility to everybody that's here. So, again, we have an opportunity to get it right and that's what we're fixated on doing, is trying to get it right and the only way to improve is to find ways to improve."

Now the Texans, who hold two first-round picks in 2023, will start anew at head coach once again.

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