It’s our responsibility to bring back the fans back and get them excited about the product we are going to put on the football field and I guarantee you we can do that. Head Coach Lovie Smith
The Lovie Smith era officially began on Tuesday as he addressed the media for the first time as Houston Texans head coach on Tuesday. Smith previously served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the team in 2021. Both he and General Manager Nick Caserio answered questions at Smith's introductory press conference which was held Tuesday in the West Club of NRG Stadium.
Here are some of the top notes and quotes from Tuesday's presser:
Smith thanked several people beginning with the McNair family and General Manager Nick Caserio for the opportunity to the lead the Texans.
"This moment is pretty special," Smith said. "It's not often you get a chance to lead three professional football teams. I don't know if there's a guy that looks like me that's had an opportunity to do that so that's pretty special."
Smith is now one of just two Black head coaches in the NFL, joining Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. With now over 20 years of NFL experience, Smith says he got his first opportunity on an NFL staff from Tony Dungy where he coached linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2000.
"I think it's important to give as many black coaches as possible an opportunity to work up through the ranks," Smith said.
Cal and Hannah McNair, newly-promoted Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton and returning Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross and their families were among the attendees. Texans Legends Andre Johnson, Johnathan Joseph, Travis Scott and Cecil Shorts III also were in the audience.
On the Interview Process:
Caserio said the process of interviewing head coaching candidates, which began on Jan. 14, was "fluid" and involved conversations with more than just the six candidates announced officially. Smith had a season to showcase his way of coaching and his defense.
"Sometimes when you're just doing your job, most of us when we're doing our job, we're being interviewed for a job, you could say," Smith said. "So, I don't know exactly when I became a candidate. I just know that like all of you, I know Nick interviewed and McNair family interviewed a lot of different people and, for me, I was in the background giving advice. After they looked at those people, they got to see me in just about every situation. I've done it before. That's all I know. When I got the call, I was excited and knew that I could lead our program to that next level."
Both Smith and Caserio didn't always agree, but they did enjoy working together. Smith was open-minded, Caserio noted.
"Love and I didn't really like know each other last year going into the season," Caserio said. "I would say systematically, defensively, it was certainly an adjustment something that was different relative to what I was accustomed to being around in New England just from a front structure, a number of different things. It's interesting, Lovie and I laugh about it now. We certainly had a lot of good discussions, a lot of good dialogue and conversations and sometimes some friendly disagreements."
Caserio and Smith both are excited to enter in a new head coaching phase in Year 2 of their system, not quite starting from the bottom but with a good understanding of what needs to improve.
"Year 2 of a system, you can make a few more tweaks and some more modifications and adjustments," Caserio said. "So I think as we kind of build on what we did in Year 1, putting the foundation in place, look at what some of those things are going to look like in the second year."
Smith reunited in Houston last season with Hamilton. The two worked together in Chicago where Hamilton served as the quarterbacks coach when Smith was the Bears head coach (2007-09).
"He's a fundamental coach that has a defensive mentality on toughness with the running game and all the those things," Smith said. "I'm excited about him being on the staff."
Smith said he watched Hamilton work his way up through the ranks, in the quarterback room to a coordinator. After seeing his work with quarterbacks and watching his career, Smith said he knew he wanted Hamilton to run the offense in order to preserve continuity with QB Davis Mills.
"It was a must as I see it," Smith said.
Smith brought the 4-3 defensive scheme back to Houston in 2021 and called plays. As head coach, he plans to continue calling plays on defense.
"I loved calling plays last year," Smith said. "I will be calling the defenses this year. Just look around right now. Most of the offensive head coaches that are offensive guys, they all call plays. For some reason, a lot of the defensive guys don't. I think I can help our program the most right now with me in that same role so I will be doing that."
On Next Steps:
Smith has begun the process of reaching out to players personally with phone calls. He joked that defensive players picked up his call immediately since they had his number stored. Offensive players didn't recognize his number (yet).
"I wanted the guys to know how excited I am," Smith said.
The next step will be to build out the remaining coaching staff. Several assistant coaches left for other jobs and Smith says he has an idea of what he wants his staff to look like.
"As it pertains to staffing, Lovie and I will have discussions on that," Caserio said. "Lovie will have a lot of input. There will be a number of other coaches that will have input so the next step for us after today is really to continue to build out the staff and I'd say we're making some progress on that. What that final constitution looks like at the end, I'm sure there will be some moving parts there as we go."
Take a look at Head Coach Lovie Smith's first day on the job!