Head Coach Lovie Smith hasn't needed an alarm clock in the mornings lately. Smith has been eagerly waiting to kick off his 21st NFL season with his debut as Houston Texans head coach.
"Growing up, with Santa Claus, the excitement for Christmas was there," Smith said. "This does not change, no matter how many times you do it. I'm not waking up with an alarm. It's been a period of time, wide awake, ready to go. Just the blessing to be in this position, and the excitement to see our team play. You ask about Derek (Stingley Jr.) and some of our rookies, to see them for the first time, it doesn't change. A lot of excitement."
Smith and the Texans will open the 2022 regular season at home against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Last year, the Colts outscored Houston by a combined score of 62-3 with RB Jonathan Taylor rushing for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Smith, who served as defensive coordinator in 2021, believes the Texans have come a long way this offseason, working on execution and adding new players through free agency and the draft.
"Any of us that were here last year remember what happened and we feel like as coaches we've addressed all those issues that we had," Smith said. "Now it's about doing it. If a player is still here right now, we feel like they buy in to what we needed to do to catch the people that went ahead of us. I think it's as simple as that. From what I've seen in practice, saw in the preseason games, I think we have improved. I'm anxious to see it this Sunday also."
Smith will be reunited with a former division rival in QB Matt Ryan, traded to the Colts this offseason. During his tenure as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith faced the Ryan twice a year with the Atlanta Falcons.
"He can make all of the throws," Smith said. "He's smart. That's who he is. Going to the Colts, adding him, a quarterback that can make all the throws like that with the great running back causes problems. They have a good offensive line too. That's why the challenge is here for us. To meet their force, we know they're going to come in here ready to play and we'll be ready to go too."