(SportsRadio 610) The Texans' head coaching search took a surprising turn Sunday night as defensive coordinator Lovie Smith emerged as the front runner, according to reports.
Smith hadn't previously been named as a candidate in the Texans' search as the team announced the individuals it was interviewing throughout the process over the last month.
As of last week, the Texans' finalists were retired NFL quarterback Josh McCown, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who's suing the NFL, alleging racist hiring practices.
As of Saturday, Gannon had been informed he wouldn't be getting the job, leaving the finalists down to McCown and Flores. McCown, reportedly "all-in" this time as opposed to his interview last year, was believed to be the favorite to land the job
On Sunday, the Texans had no further communication with Flores. It was also reported that McCown was no longer in consideration for the job as the Texans' search pivoted to in-house candidate Smith.
Hiring Smith would add instant credibility to the position, which it arguably lacked under first-year head coach David Culley in 2021 and which would certainly be questioned if the Texans hired McCown, who has never coached beyond high school.
Smith, whose record as head coach for the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers was 89-87, led Chicago to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season and was named Coach of the Year for the 2005 season.
Under Smith's leadership as defensive coordinator in 2021, the Texans improved in takeaways from a league-low nine in 2020 to tied for seventh with 25.
Yet it does appear to be a pivot by Texans leadership. For whatever reasons, they're no longer considering Flores or McCown. They might also have taken a month to promote someone they've had a year to evaluate as their own employee and who at least joined the organization with enough of a track record to know what to expect.
This could ultimately be good for the Texans -- moving on from an inexperienced head coach in Culley, avoiding the hire of a complete unknown in McCown and landing on a solid, reliable Smith. But there are inevitable questions to be answered about the process, how the Texans arrived at Smith -- if that's in fact the case -- and how the staff moves forward.
Will they promote Miles Smith, the linebackers coach and Lovie's son, to defensive coordinator? Quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton has turned down interviews elsewhere and could be in line to replace Tim Kelly, who was dismissed with Culley in January, as offensive coordinator.
Brandon Scott is the senior digital content coordinator for SportsRadio610.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandonkscott.