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Texans dismiss DC Smith, two others


(From left) Defensive coordinator Richard Smith, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin were dismissed by the Texans on Tuesday.

The Texans have dismissed defensive coordinator Richard Smith, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin. Texans coach Gary Kubiak announced the decision on Tuesday after conferring with Texans owner Bob McNair, vice chairman Cal McNair and general manager Rick Smith since Monday evening.

The Texans' defense ranked 22nd in the league in yards allowed (336.6), 27th in points (24.7) and 29th in the red zone in 2008, Richard Smith's third season with the team. It ranked 24th in yards in his first two seasons.

Kubiak credited Smith for helping the Texans transition from the 3-4 scheme used before his arrival to a 4-3 and called Smith "a great coach, a great person." But the defense's growth under Smith paled in comparison to that of the Texans' offense, which improved from the league's 28th-ranked unit in 2006 to its third-best this season.

"My decision is strictly based on (this): I go over the three-year period and I look at how we progressed," Kubiak said. "I do not feel good about the progress we've made on that side of the ball, and I think for us to take the next step, we have to make a big-time improvement there.

"It's something that's taken place over a long period of time. This is not an overnight decision. It's something that I've had a very difficult time with as we've worked toward it, but it's a tough decision I had to make as part of my job."

Kubiak will now put together a list of candidates to replace Smith and plans to begin the interview process in two weeks. Senior defensive assistant Frank Bush will be among those to interview for the vacancy.

{QUOTE}"I think a great deal of Frank and his knowledge and his passion for this game," Kubiak said. "He's going to be a part of our staff."

Because of the work the Texans have put in as a 4-3 defense since 2006, Kubiak would prefer to stay in that system under Smith's replacement. He said that he will not require that the replacement be someone with experience as a play-calling coordinator.

"That doesn't concern me," Kubiak said. "I'm sure that I will end up talking to guys that have been coordinators in this league for a great length of time. I'm sure I will interview some guys who have not been coordinators that I think have a chance to be excellent coordinators.

"I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about finding the best fit for our football team and the guys that we have here."

Hoke was an original member of the Texans' coaching staff, recently finishing his seventh season as the Texans' defensive backs coach. Before coming to Houston in 2002, he spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

The Texans' passing defense improved from 25th in 2007 to 17th in 2008, but only six teams had fewer than the Texans' 12 interceptions this season. Houston's 11 interceptions in 2007 tied for the fewest in the league.

"He's been here ever since the organization got started, worked his tail off, stayed here with me when I came," Kubiak said of Hoke. "(He's) done a heck of a job for us. I'm very proud of him."

Franklin closed out his second season as the Texans' defensive line coach this year. He was instrumental in the development of players such as Mario Williams and DelJuan Robinson, but the Texans had only 25 sacks in 2008. That was the sixth-lowest total in the league. Houston also ranked 23rd against the run, allowing 122.6 yards per game.

"They're all fine coaches," Kubiak said. "They're even better people. (This is) a very difficult day for them and their families. Difficult on this guy, too. But the bottom line is I've made a decision to move in a new direction and want to give them the opportunity to do the same thing as quickly as possible."

Assistant defensive backs coach Ray Rhodes and linebackers coach Johnny Holland will remain with the team. Rhodes may fill Hoke's position or assist the team in another capacity, depending on the decision regarding the new defensive coordinator.

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