How much credit should Lovie Smith get for the current state of the Houston Texans?

The Houston Texans fell to second in the 2023 NFL Draft because Lovie Smith was coaching to win.

Texans head football coach Lovie Smith stands on the field before the Texas Tech-Ole Miss Texas Bowl
Texans head football coach Lovie Smith stands on the field before the Texas Tech-Ole Miss Texas Bowl / Annie Rice/Avalanche-Journal / USA TODAY
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The Houston Texans have been through five head coaches in four seasons, in a collection of moves that were mostly seen as a mess. After the team opted to fire Bill O'Brien in 2020, he was replaced with Romeo Crennel. Crennel who was in his early 70s then, was not considered a long-term option as head coach, and the team wanted to go younger. This prompted the franchise to hire David Culley, who was 66. Younger, but not exactly what the franchise wanted.

Culley's hiring came at a time when the Texans needed help with their image, and many panned the move for being for every possible reason other than the one you'd want; that he was the right guy for the job. Some have speculated he was the only guy for the job, a head coach position no real candidate wanted.

Maybe that was true but Culley wouldn't be able to prove doubters wrong as he was fired after just one season. Then the team went slightly younger still with then-64-year-old Lovie Smith. Smith, the former Chicago Bears head coach, was brought in after Culley for practically the same reasons.

Another coach taking a job no one else really wanted. Yet, Smith is remembered more fondly than Culley, Crennel, and O'Brien, but why, since he was a one-year hire as well? Well, as one Twitter user put it, he "got" the Texans C.J. Stroud.

Smith is seen as getting the Texans Stroud, the Offensive Rookie of the Year for 2023, and the Texans' new starting quarterback. How did this happen, however? Well, the Texans were the worst team in the NFL in 2022 and were on their way to securing the first overall draft pick for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Then came the final game of the year, where all the Texans had to do was lay down and they'd get the win. That's not what happened, however, as Smith, with the last head coaching game of his career, guided the Texans to an upset win over the Indianapolis Colts, 32-31, allowing the Chicago Bears to take the top slot.

The Bears would trade their number one overall pick to the Panthers for a haul and the Panthers would then take Bryce Young first overall. Young was the player that the Texans reportedly wanted, so it's painted as a situation where the Texans "settled" for Stroud.

That's not necessarily the case, however, as pre-draft rumors are often misinformation spread by teams for leverage purposes. It's very likely that Stroud was always the guy and the Texans just lied, hoping to get some more draft capital by switching spots had they landed first overall.

Smith gets too much credit for a decision that wasn't made until months after he was out the door. More to that, there's no promise that Stroud will develop the way he did in Chicago or Carolina. He may have had a bad season, similar to that of Young. On the other hand, had Young landed in Houston, he may have been the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Which is a long way to say that Smith shouldn't get credit for the team lucking into Stroud.

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