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Lovie Smith
Houston Texans

Who Are Most Likely Texans Head Coach Candidates?

  • Justin Melo
  • January 14, 2022
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After days of deliberation, the Houston Texans decided to relieve head coach David Culley of his duties. Culley received the one-and-done treatment, as the Smyrna, Tennessee native took control of the Texans prior to the 2021 campaign. Culley was dealt a difficult hand in overseeing a Texans roster that was largely devoid of playmakers and was dealing with both on and off-field issues with their star quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Texans now join a plethora of franchises that are searching for a new head coach this cycle. General manager Nick Caserio now prepares to enter a crucial offseason in which he'll hire his second head coach in as many years. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills handled himself admirably in his debut campaign and potentially gives the Texans something to build around offensively. The Texans own the third overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, which qualifies as a premium selection. The Watson situation looms large, but an offseason trade would see Houston acquire an abundance of future draft selections. Houston must first hire a head coach. BetOnline recently updated their odds while ranking the candidates. They are as follows:
  • Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebackers coach (+450)
  • Lovie Smith, Texans defensive coordinator (+500)
  • Brian Flores, former Dolphins head coach (+550)
  • Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator (+600)
  • Leslie Frazier, Bills defensive coordinator (+600)
  • Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator (+750)
  • Pep Hamilton, Texans quarterbacks coach (+750)
  • Brian Daboll, Bills defensive coordinator (+800)
  • Kevin O’Connell, Rams offensive coordinator (+850)
  • Nathaniel Hackett, Packers offensive coordinator (+900)
  • David Shaw, Stanford Cardinal head coach (12/1)
Pep Hamilton is already strongly linked to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator, according to multiple reports. We can safely exclude him from our personal contention list. The rest of the list contains several intriguing candidates. These three stick out in particular.

THE FAVORITE: JEROD MAYO

An eight-year inside linebacker who spent his entire playing career with the New England Patriots, Jerod Mayo now qualifies as an ascending coach. Mayo became Bill Belichick's inside linebackers coach in 2019 and has quickly risen through the ranks of would-be head coaching candidates. Mayo is a raw coach with just three years of experience under his belt, none of which are of the coordinating or play-calling variety. He would represent a bold and risky hire for a Texans franchise that must face several difficult offseason decisions head-on in a few months' time. Mayo's ties to the job opening are rather straightforward. Current Texans general manager Caserio was promoted to New England's Director of Player Personnel role in 2008, the same year in which Mayo was selected with the 10th overall pick out of Tennessee by the Patriots in the draft. Mayo's entire playing career was spent under Caserio's watchful eye, and the two men are rather fond of one another. It's just a matter of time before the 35-year-old Mayo becomes an NFL head coach, whether in Houston or elsewhere. Caserio may have found the candidate he trusts to usher his Texans forward as they prepare to navigate through some offseason adversity.

THE NO. 1 CONTENDER: LOVIE SMITH

It's rather shocking to see Lovie Smith ranked so highly, but the oddsmakers are always in the know. Smith coached as Houston's associate head coach and defensive coordinator throughout the 2021 campaign. Smith was brought onto the Texans staff by the now-fired Culley, so we expected to see Smith relieved of his duties following Culley's departure. Not so fast, apparently. The 2021 season was Smith's first in the NFL since he served as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach in 2015. It's somewhat easy to understand why Caserio may be fond of Smith and is providing him with an opportunity to interview for the job. Smith possesses a decorated coaching resume that includes the NFL's Coach of the Year honor in 2005, and he guided the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI despite having the rather pedestrian Rex Grossman as his quarterback. Caserio and the Texans may be searching for a coaching veteran that can provide a steadying hand as the franchise continues to deal with the Watson debacle. Smith is a bonafide leader of men and makes for an excellent overall candidate.

MY PICK: BRIAN FLORES

Brian Flores still qualifies as an ascending candidate after his surprise firing from the Miami Dolphins. Flores was in charge of the Dolphins for three seasons and improved a franchise that was in disarray prior to his arrival. Flores is a prime candidate to receive another head coaching job this cycle, and his ties to this opening are obviously startling. Several of the potential candidates presented by the oddsmakers have current or former ties to the Patriots franchise, and it seems likely that Caserio will hire one of those candidates. Flores first worked for the Patriots as a scouting assistant in 2004, the same year in which Caserio was promoted to Director of Pro Personnel. Flores then transitioned from the scouting department to New England's coaching staff in 2008, which lines up with Caserio's meteoric rise to Director of Player Personnel. All in all, Caserio and Flores spent 15 years together developing their individual crafts in Foxboro.  The 40-year-old Flores deserves another head coaching gig and the Texans job stands out. Caserio and Flores share team-building philosophies as the two men could construct the Texans franchise with a shared vision going forward. Flores struggled with hiring and maintaining quality offensive coordinators in Miami, but the expected presence of Hamilton would alleviate that potential concern. Flores is equipped to lead the Texans to the promised land.

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Justin Melo