Texans Fire Coach Lovie Smith After Win Costs Houston No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

The Texans won their final game of the regular season on Sunday against the Colts

Former Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith on the sidelines on Sunday.
Former Texans coach Lovie Smith lasted just one year in Houston.
Justin Casterline/Getty

Winners of just two games after tying the Colts in Week 1 of the regular season, the Houston Texans won their final game of the regular season on Sunday with a two-point conversion against Indianapolis to finish at 3-13-1 under first-year head coach Lovie Smith.

With the win, Houston lost out on the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears (3-14) and the Texans decided that Smith, who joined the Texans as the team’s defensive coordinator and associate head coach for the 2021 season, should lose his job.

What’s really unclear is what the Texans, who parted ways with ex-coach David Culley last January after he went 4-13 in his only season, wanted from Smith that he didn’t provide as three wins from a roster without any star players or a decent quarterback is about as much as Houston could realistically have hoped for. It’s possible the team expected Smith, who indicated after Sunday’s win that he expected to be back with the team, to lose to the Colts to lock up the No. 1 pick and let him go because he helped guide Houston to a win over Indianapolis. The team will never publicly admit that, but it’s hard to imagine why Smith, who has a 92-100-1 record in his 12-year career as a head coach, would have been let go for any other reason.

“I’m constantly evaluating our football operation and believe this is the best decision for us at this time,” general manager Nick Caserio said in a statement announcing the team firing Smith. “It is my responsibility to build a comprehensive and competitive program that can sustain success over a long period of time. We aren’t there right now, however, with the support of the (team owner) McNair family and the resources available to us, I’m confident in the direction of our football program moving forward.”

Caserio, who will now be hiring his third coach in three years since taking over in Houston, may also be on notice, as the Texans have won just 11 games combined over the past three seasons and do not have a franchise quarterback in place.

The same cannot be said for the Bears, who now own the top pick in the draft but also have their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields and also lead the league with over $100 million in cap space. With Fields already in the fold, the Bears are expected to entertain offers for the top pick. Here’s the order for the top half of April’s draft.

1. Bears
2. Texans
3. Cardinals
4. Colts
5. Seahawks (from Broncos)
6. Lions (from Rams)
7. Raiders
8. Falcons
9. Panthers
10. Eagles (from Saints)
11. Titans
12. Texans (from Browns)
13. Jets
14. Patriots
15. Packers

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