Is Lovie Smith the answer in Houston?

Is Smith the answer in Houston?

By: Jake Rajala

The Houston Texans brought in the defensive sage Lovie Smith to be the new head coach this off-season. Smith, who was once the youngest head coach in the league, is currently 64 and tasked with leading a young, flawed team in Houston. Smith may not have a sexy roster, but he is familiar with designing a successful team from scratch. Smith had a porous 5-11 record in 2004, but he really elevated the team to an NFC Championship appearance in 2006.

The bearded figure was with CHI from 2004 until 2012. He was questionably fired from the Bears after a 10-6 record in 2012. He had a very short stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 and 2015, but he wasn’t deemed the best fit for the team that wanted to draft a quarterback first overall in the 2015 draft.

He would transition to the college ranks, as he became the Illinois head coach from 2016 until 2020. He was hired as the defensive coordinator of the Texans in 2021 and then ultimately given the keys as the new ring leader in 2022. With that said, the question is: is Smith really the answer for the Texans long-term?

I firmly believe Smith will need to have success, lots of energy, and growth from Davis Mills if he aims on being the long-term answer in Houston. The Detroit Lions may have retained Dan Campbell after a 3-13-1 record, but the Texans were not satisfied with David Culley leading the Texans to a 4-13-1 record in 2021. It would seem like Nick Caserio and the Texans will expect Smith to have more wins than last season. With that said, It will still unequivocally be a serious challenge for the Texans to have 5+ wins in 2022. Pro Football Focus ranked the Texans as the worst roster entering the 2022 season.

I believe Smith will certainly need to have around five wins next season, but I expect the Texans to mainly gauge Smith’s value off of the growth of Mills and the improvement on defense. It would be hard to ignore the fit with Smith if Mills can develop nicely without a young, offensive-minded HC, while his defense that ranked 31st in yards allowed per game last season improves in 2022. Mills will be able to rely on Brandin Cooks to terrorize opposing defenses in premature years — as Cooks inked a two-year contract extension worth $40 million dollars.

The Texans defense doesn’t exactly have a ton of talent, but they do have a shiny rookie in Derek Stingley Jr. Smith will do everything in his power to ensure the former LSU DB is a DROY-candidate next season. The Texans will certainly have growing pains, but Smith will block out the noise and strive to beat each opponent by a thousand cuts. Smith might be in a tough situation on a short deal, but he can absolutely turn heads with his young QB, potentially score an upset against the Matt Ryan-led Indianapolis Colts, and turn around a struggling franchise for the second time in his career.

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