The book on Lovie Smith is probably written: Nice man. Bad head coach. And after a sixth-straight loss, it’s looking more and more like another one-and-done hire for the Houston Texans (1-9-1). We explain why in our look at NFL coaches on the hot seat following the Week 12 action.
Is Lovie Smith Among NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat?
Smith was always a flawed choice to replace David Culley, who had the top job in Houston for just one season.
The organization conducted an unorthodox search last winter, talking to out-of-the-box candidates such as Josh McCown and Hines Ward. They ultimately decided to promote Smith a month into the process, which always felt like settling.
The Texans (1-9-1) knew they’d be talent deficient in 2022, particularly after deciding to wait another year to find their franchise quarterback. But few imagined they would be this bad. They’re worse than they were in 2021 under Culley and no longer even competitive.
The Dolphins led 30-0 at the half Sunday before taking their foot off the gas. Still, the 15-point loss was Houston’s fourth by multiple scores during their six-game skid.
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Kyle Allen (26 of 39, 215 yards, two interceptions) was no better than a benched Davis Mills. And five of the six Dolphins’ first-half drives ended in points.
The Texans are the worst team in the NFL, and it’s probably not close. If objective No. 1 this season was to secure the No. 1 overall pick, Smith has been a success. But it doesn’t take a good coach to stink. And going forward, the Texans will have far higher standards.
Smith has shown no ability throughout his career to identify and develop QBs.
Mills had a promising rookie season but regressed horribly in Year 2. That’s a reflection of coaching. Assuming money isn’t the determining factor, why wouldn’t the Texans move on this offseason and hire a bright offensive mind?
Ultimately, Smith has an audience of one: Cal McNair, the Texans’ CEO and heir to the franchise. McNair is firmly in evaluation mode, and it wasn’t a coincidence that he sat in on Smith’s postgame news conference Sunday.
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“I think it’s a little bit early,” Smith said when a reported Sunday asked him to evaluate his leadership and fitness to continue as coach. “I could talk to you about this game, how about that? This game, we didn’t start well, as I said, but I liked the way we finished.
“Most of the times when you come into a new game there’s a reason why there’s a coaching change. And most times you don’t come in when you’re ready to win right away. You start building. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re building, and eventually we’re going to get it done.
“Right now it’s kind of easy to take shots at us because we’re not quite there. So we’ll take that, but eventually we’ll get over the hump.”
Maybe so. But it will likely be another coach who gets them there.
More NFL Hot Seat Updates
Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints (4-8)
It’s been one step forward and two steps back for the Saints all year. Sunday was another backtrack with a 13-0 blanking at the hands of the 49ers. Allen’s decision to stick with Andy Dalton looks worse by the week.
Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions (4-7)
The Lions did everything but finish in their three-point Thanksgiving loss to Buffalo. Campbell’s game management has never been a strength. And in Week 12, it cost Detroit a very winnable game.
Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos (3-8)
Sunday’s 13-point loss to Carolina was probably Hackett’s point of no return. The defense’s frustration with the offense boiled over when Mike Purcell and Russell Wilson got into it on the sidelines late in regulation.
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals (4-8)
Not only did the Cardinals lose a de facto elimination game against the Chargers Sunday, but they also did so in devastating fashion, blowing a seven-point lead in the final seconds. Will Kliff even survive the bye week?
Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers (4-8)
With Aaron Rodgers hurt and the playoffs a pipe dream, it’s time to assess blame in Green Bay. Green Bay’s run defense, which allowed an insane 363 yards against the Eagles, sits atop the list.
Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders (4-7)
Since getting the dreaded vote of confidence from owner Mark Davis, McDaniels has put together back-to-back wins, and Vegas could claw back into the playoff conversation with a Week 13 win over the Chargers.
Doug Pederson, Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
The odds that Pederson gets fired after one year are basically zero. The Jags just stunned the Ravens, Trevor Lawrence is coming into his own, and safety Andrew Wingard says he “would die” for Pederson. Yeah, he’s safe.
Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)
The blowback on Staley would have been massive had his decision to go for two — and the win — with 15 seconds left against the Cardinals failed. But it succeeded, and the Chargers are firmly in the mix for the playoffs.
Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns (4-7)
Stefanski’s true evaluation begins now. The Browns more or less won as many games as we expected during Deshaun Watson’s suspension. Now we get to see if Cleveland’s risky trade was the right one.