The third time might be the charm for Lovie Smith.
Hired by the Texans on Monday to be the franchise's head coach, it's the third such gig for Smith. He spent 2004 through 2012 as Chicago's head coach and was the Buccaneers head coach in 2014 and 2015.
In 2021, he was Houston's associate head coach and defensive coordinator.
The combination of coaching here last season and getting to know the personnel, along with previous experience as an NFL head coach, should serve him and the team well.
"I think it's a big advantage," Smith said. "When you become a head football coach for the first time, you don't realize that. You prepare and you have a plan for everything, but experience teaches you so much."
General Manager Nick Caserio agreed.
"It's helpful on a lot of levels," Caserio said. "Programmatically, how to run a program. Systematically, what he wants to do. He has a familiarity with a lot of people in the building. Players. Other coaches. Interactions with different staff. The indoctrination process maybe isn't as steep."
Smith took over a Bears squad that had won a combined 11 games in 2002 and 2003. His inaugural season was tough, as Chicago finished 5-11, but by Year 2, he and the Bears flipped those won-loss numbers around and were 11-5. The next year, they went 13-3 and won the NFC.
"Matthew my son and I were talking about 2004 when we did it for the first time," Smith said. "No idea what you should do. Had a plan. I learned something from every experience I've gone through. So it's a big advantage of just knowing what to do."
Johnathan Joseph was at NRG Stadium for Smith's introductory press conference on Tuesday. Nine of Joseph's 15 NFL seasons were spent here in Houston and he's the franchise's all-time interceptions leader. He went through a coaching change in 2014, as the Texans segued from Gary Kubiak to first-time NFL head coach Bill O'Brien.
Joseph explained a benefit of Smith's experience and experience in the building.
"I think it makes the game plan a lot easier," Joseph said. "When you have questions or things you can ask, you don't have to go to two or three different people. You know exactly who you can go to and it stops right there. It's all the same philosophy. It's going to be taught this way. It's going to be on the same page. You don't have to go to this coach or that coach and they're telling you different things."
Since the start of the 1997 NFL regular season, there have been 24 Super Bowl Champions. 18 of those winners were guided by a man who had once been head coach of a different franchise. Before Smith and the Texans can join that group, though, there's a lot of work to do. The Texans head coach explained how he'll start.
"Coming in, I have a plan for what we're going to do," Smith said. "What's the most important thing becoming a head football coach? First thing: the staff."
Smith and Caserio are adding assistant coaches to the mix and will soon have the staff completed.