4 best Houston Texans coaching candidates to replace Lovie Smith

Houston Texans coaching candidates

The Houston Texans have become all too familiar with head-coaching searches in recent years. Following a three-win season, the Texans have fired head coach Lovie Smith after just one year at the helm.

Houston put Smith in a no-win situation. The Texans’ coaching search seemed to settle on Josh McCown – who lacked any professional coaching experience – until the Brian Flores lawsuit dropped. Not long after, Smith was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach.

Related: NFL coaching candidates 2023

Coaching the worst roster in the NFL yielded the results everyone expected. Houston finished with the second-worst record in the league, with Sunday’s last-second win over the Indianapolis Colts preventing them from owning the No. 1 pick. While Smith’s team showed fight at the end, general manager Nick Caserio made the decision to cut ties with his head coach on Sunday night.

Let’s evaluate four Texans coaching candidates who would be a strong hire for the franchise. Additional names will be added at the conclusion of the 2022 season, but Houston might face limited options after missing out on the No. 1 pick then firing head coaches after one season in consecutive years.

Related: Houston Texans fire Lovie Smith

DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

DeMeco Ryans needs to be No. 1 on any potential Texans coaching candidates list. Drafted by Houston with the 33rd pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, he quickly became a fan favorite. The 6-foot-3 linebacker demonstrated his outstanding leadership and communication from 2006-’11 in a Texans’ uniform. He’s having an even bigger impact as a defensive coordinator.

Opp. PPGOpp. YPGPressure RateYards per PlayDVOA Rank
202121.5 (10th)310 (3rd)24.1% (20th)5.1 (4th)-7.4% (7th)
202215.2 (1st)286.8 (1st)23.1% (11th)4.8 (T-1st)-17% (2nd)
2022 defensive stats through Week 15 via Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference

San Francisco never took a step back when defensive play-caller Robert Saleh became the New York Jets head coach. Ryans took control of the system and he is orchestrating the No. 1 defense in the NFL. The 49ers have loved having Ryans’ defensive mind, voice and influence in their locker room for several years, but they know he is going to become an NFL head coach in 2023. Ryans is the perfect candidate for Houston for so many reasons and a reunion would be the best move made by this organization in years.

Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Houston’s biggest problem is its offense. Heading into Week 15, the Texans averaged just 16.2 points per game (30th in NFL) and averaged the fewest total yards per. game (283) in the NFL. Drafting quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 pick would be a step in the right direction. As every passing season proves, every quarterback needs a great coach in a supporting role.

“His track record speaks for itself. The type of man he is, the way he can control and be a leader of the locker room and the way that he coaches and schemes he brings to us. If he doesn’t, people are crazy.”

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes on offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy

Eric Bieniemy comes with glowing endorsements from both Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. While the 53-year-old isn’t the Chiefs’ primary play-caller, he holds massive responsibilities when it comes to designing the offense and working with Mahomes.

Keep in mind that Kansas City leads the NFL in points per play (0.45), yards per play (6.5), third-down conversion rate (51.3%) and is first in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings (23.6%)/ Bieniemy is exactly the offensive mind Houston should want to mentor Young and building an offense tailored to his strengths. Lastly, he interviewed twice with the Texans last year and emerged as a finalist to become the head coach. Finally set to have a franchise-caliber quarterback, now is the perfect time to hire Bieniemy.

Frank Reich, former Indianapolis Colts head coach

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

If Houston wants to hire an experienced head coach, it can target one of the most respected voices in the NFL. While things ended badly for Frank Reich with the Indianapolis Colts, there are few around the league who believe he was the problem.

Related: Houston Texans reportedly might fire Lovie Smith after Week 18

Look at how the Colts’ offense performed the last time Reich had a former No.1 pick at quarterback. With Andrew Luck under center, Reich’s system fired on all cylinders, averaging 25.9 points per game (8th in NFL) with the best third-down conversion rate (47.7%) in the league. Keep in mind, Luck played through injury during that 2018 season and the team still went 11-5.

Reich still managed to create an above-average offense with an aging Philip Rivers at quarterback followed by journeyman Jacoby Brissett. It wasn’t until 2021, more so 2022, when a poorly-constructed roster fell apart. Reich could provide the stability and quarterback whispering this franchise needs.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

Ejiro Evero, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA

The Denver Broncos didn’t make many good moves in the 2022 NFL offseason, but bringing in Ejir Evero as defensive coordinator worked out beautifully. Through injuries to impact defenders and trades that took away Evero’s best pass rusher, the 41-year-old is making the most out of what he has to work with in Colorado.

Statistically, Denver’s defense is impressive. It ranks as the fifth-best defense by Football Outsiders’ DVOA (-12.4%) and the analytics are backed up with a unit that allows just 4.9 yards per play (6th in NFL) with the third-lowest average QB rating (79.3) allowed to opponents this year. One thing that won’t be found in the box score is how Everyo keeps getting his players to buy in and compete in a lost season when the offense keeps turning the ball over and wasting drives.

He also comes with a resume that features some distinguished names. Evero learned from Vic Fangio, Mike McCarthy and Sean McVay, three coaches who NFL deals hold in very high regard. If the Houston Texans can’t land Ryans or Bieniemy, Evero should be near the top of their target list.

Related: 4 Houston Texans QB options in 2023

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