Josh McCown

Vikings Hire Josh McCown As QBs Coach

Known for making a few team jumps during his lengthy quarterback career, Josh McCown has landed a second gig as a quarterbacks coach in as many years.

The Vikings hired McCown as their quarterbacks coach, the team announced Tuesday. This comes months after the Panthers fired him in the wake of Frank Reich‘s early dismissal. Minnesota is among the cities McCown, 44, did not stop through as a player, but he will get to work under third-year HC Kevin O’Connell.

A candidate to become the Texans’ head coach in two offseasons, McCown did not land that job. Such an appointment would have come as controversial given his inexperience coaching. Following interviews for the Houston job in consecutive years, McCown landed in Carolina. That became a mistake.

In an attempt to assemble an all-star staff around Reich, David Tepper allowed a complex Bryce Young developmental effort to commence. This included marrying concepts from Reich and OC Thomas Brown, with McCown having an influence in the offense’s direction as well. The experiment faceplanted, and after Jim Caldwell and interim HC Chris Tabor orchestrated McCown’s firing, the Panthers have a new staff in place.

McCown played 18 NFL seasons, skipping the 2010 campaign while playing in the original United Football League, and bounced around the league. While the journeyman has no prior history in Minnesota, he did throw a rather important pass in Vikings annals. McCown’s final-seconds toss to Nate Poole produced a game-winning Cardinals touchdown that knocked the Vikings out of the 2003 playoffs. That was McCown’s second season; he will now aim to use the Vikings as a bounce-back opportunity in his second coaching season.

The Vikings are moving Chris O’Hara from QBs coach to pass-game specialist. O’Hara has been on O’Connell’s staff throughout the latter’s Twin Cities tenure. He came over from the Rams along with O’Connell and OC Wes Phillips.

Frank Reich Unlikely To Coach Again; Panthers Expected To Target Offensive HC For 2024

NOVEMBER 28: When speaking to the media in the wake of Reich’s dismissal, Tepper unsurprisingly pushed back on the notion that his impatience regarding coaches will make the Panthers opening an unattractive one. He also suggested, via Person, that an outside hiring firm will not be consulted for the latest search process (subscription required). Tepper has elected to keep his previous hiring decisions in-house, and it appears that will remain the case in 2023.

Confirming previous reports on the matter – as well as Reich’s public remarks – Tepper also said the Panthers’ decision to draft Young over C.J. Stroud was “unanimous.” Tepper is widely understood to have played a role in the selection (as well as other elements of the team’s football operations), but his assertion on the matter of the Young pick may help smooth over meddling-related concerns for prospective coaching candidates, especially if those with a background on offense are again prioritized.

NOVEMBER 27: Frank Reich now joins Nathaniel Hackett, Urban Meyer and Pete McCulley as the only post-merger head coaches to be fired before their first season ended. This resided as a McCulley-only list for more than 40 years, but owners have acted swiftly over the past three. David Tepper pulled the plug on a four-year contract Monday, and Reich’s firing edges out Hackett and Meyer, who were respectively fired 15 and 13 games into their Denver and Jacksonville HC tenures. Only McCulley was fired sooner since 1970; the 49ers canned him after nine games.

Offset language helped the Panthers avoid much of the remaining payments on the ill-fated seven-year Matt Rhule contract, with the longtime college HC signing on as Nebraska’s leader. But Reich may not give the Panthers the chance to recoup money. The veteran NFL HC and assistant and former quarterback said shortly after his firing this is probably it for him in the NFL, though he did not definitively announce a retirement.

This is probably the final chapter of my NFL journey,” Reich said, via the Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler. “… There’s a heart-pounding disappointment in not hitting the marks that we needed to hit to keep this going and try to get it turned around. It hurts me for the guys, the team, the coaches and the fans.

Reich has been an NFL assistant or head coach since 2006, moving into the profession on a full-time basis eight years after his playing career concluded. The Super Bowl-winning OC’s remark Monday differs from his plan upon being fired midway through last season. Following the Colts dismissal, Reich revealed intentions to coach again. He received another opportunity, beating out Steve Wilks for the Carolina job. But the Panthers regressed after making that change. Despite Reich being in his first season, Tepper, who was irate after a Week 12 loss dropped the Panthers to 1-10, canned the coach he hired in January.

Reich, 61, appeared to pull back the curtain on rumblings of Tepper overreach during the season, indicating the owner took a hands-on approach. While animosity would understandably exist after being fired 11 games into his tenure, the well-liked coach did not indicate any existed. Tepper has now fired three coaches in-season; he dismissed Ron Rivera 12 games into the 2019 campaign.

I want to convey that I have nothing but positive thoughts about Mr. Tepper. On a personal level, I saw a side of him that I deeply respect and care about,” Reich said, via Fowler. “But the NFL is a meritocracy. It’s not unconditional love. I understand from a professional standpoint Mr. Tepper is going to have certain standards that he expects to have met. I have no hard feelings, and my personal relationship with him was actually a real highlight of this short time.”

Firing coaches during the season in back-to-back years brings the latest round of turmoil for the Tepper-era Panthers, whose first-round pick — stationed atop the 2024 draft board with six weeks left — goes to the Bears via the Bryce Young trade. It will be interesting to see the run of candidates interested in the job, but despite Reich’s struggles, The Athletic’s Joe Person indicates the sixth-year owner is likely to again target an offense-minded HC (subscription required).

As should be expected, veteran special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is unlikely to receive much consideration for the long-term job,’s David Newton and Jeremy Fowler note. Although Tabor has been an NFL special teams coach since 2008, the path for ST staffers to rise to the top sideline job — John Harbaugh‘s Baltimore success notwithstanding — remains narrow.

Wilks drew support to become the first interim HC since Doug Marrone (Jaguars, 2017) to see his interim tag removed, but Person adds Tepper had zeroed in on an offense-geared coach. Ben Johnson had emerged as Tepper’s top target, but the young Lions OC removed his name from consideration a week before the Panthers hired Reich. Wilks interviewed twice along with Reich, instead ending up as the 49ers’ DC. It is not surprising to see an owner prefer an offensively oriented HC, given recent NFL trends. The Panthers will aim for a leader who can get more out of Young, presumably with a better cast of weaponry in place for 2024.

The Panthers fired Young’s position coach and their running backs coach after canning Reich, and’s Ian Rapoport indicates the ousters of Josh McCown and Duce Staley came from Tabor and Jim Caldwell. Staley had worked with Reich in Philadelphia as well, while McCown interviewed twice for Houston’s HC job.

A Reich hire, Caldwell has received more power following Monday morning’s change. Thomas Brown is back in place as the play-caller, however. Reich had taken back play-calling duties after handing them off to Brown for a three-game stretch. The Panthers, who had attempted to blend Reich concepts with those Brown learned from Sean McVay with the Rams, rank 30th in total offense and 29th in points scored.

Former Panthers tight end-turned-FOX analyst Greg Olsen would be interested in the position, per Person, should Tepper contact him regarding what would be an outside-the-box hire. Olsen is best remembered for his Panthers years and is early in his broadcasting career. FOX, however, is still planning to effectively demote him for Tom Brady in 2024.

Prior to the Panthers’ Week 12 loss to the Titans,’s Mike Garafolo had not gotten the sense Reich being a one-and-done was a certainty (video link). Though, Reich and GM Scott Fitterer were reported to be on the hot seat several days ago. Tepper had naturally planned to evaluate Reich’s work at season’s end. It turned out the owner no longer wanted the former Carolina QB mentoring Young, whom the owner was believed to have made a strong push for ahead of the draft. Hired to work with Rhule in 2021, Fitterer should certainly be considered on a hot seat going into the season’s home stretch.

Many Panthers Staffers Back Bryce Young

The last time the Panthers held the No. 1 overall pick, little doubt existed about the franchise’s direction. The consensus top quarterback in the 2011 draft, Cam Newton served as Carolina’s quarterback for nearly a decade. Three weeks ahead of this year’s draft, the team — despite trading up eight spots for the top pick — may not have a decision yet.

Although the Panthers’ pendulum is swinging toward C.J. Stroud, Peter King of NBC Sports reports Bryce Young has several key supporters in the building. New QBs coach Josh McCown looks to be one of them. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay each mock the Ohio State passer to Carolina at 1, but ESPN and rank the former Alabama superstar as the draft’s best prospect. Stroud sits second on’s big board and seventh on Daniel Jeremiah’s.

Frank Reich and GM Scott Fitterer have included many staffers in this process, bringing more than 10 to prospects’ pro days. Reich has wanted the staff to draw their own conclusions before the franchise decides how to proceed. While Reich said Young’s height will not be a key factor, King adds it likely is an issue for Carolina’s first-year HC. A longtime friend of Reich’s informed King he would be surprised if the Panthers took the 5-foot-10 Young. Stroud brings a prototypical QB frame to the equation, standing 6-3 and weighing 214 pounds. Young’s weight has generated scrutiny as well. After bulking up to 204 pounds at the Combine, Young did not weigh in at his pro day.

Reich will be unlikely to throw his weight around and overrule a consensus, per King, should he not agree with the prevailing staff opinion. This could lead to a scenario in which the new coach is outvoted. But the veteran leader does hold Young in high regard, opening the door to the coach being OK with either QB. When revisiting Reich’s Colts tenure, it would be strange to see him stand down if enough Panthers staffers back the QB he ranks second. Reich’s Indianapolis setup looked like a premier foundation in 2019, but Andrew Luck‘s retirement led to it unraveling. The Colts’ inability to find a Luck replacement led to Reich’s midseason firing last year. And the Panthers obviously sent the Bears plenty to pry away the No. 1 pick.

It might end up that the HC views Stroud as a safer bet compared to a 5-10 QB that did not rush for 200 yards in a college season. But Young’s production-athleticism combination still intrigues. He will attempt to follow the likes of Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray to the Pro Bowl level despite pre-draft height concerns.

The Panthers going with Stroud would put the Texans to a decision. Long mocked to take Young at 2, Houston will need to decide if he is worth the investment. The Texans going with a safer pick, in ex-Young Crimson Tide teammate Will Anderson Jr., and tabling their QB choice should not be ruled out. Young making it to No. 3 on the board would create a fascinating draft sequence, with teams previously linked to higher-variance options like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis potentially prepared to send the Cardinals big offers to move up for Young. The Colts (No. 4) are working out Young this week; the Raiders (No. 7) are hosting the 2021 Heisman winner today. The Titans have also been linked to moving up to No. 3 for a passer.

Panthers Add Josh McCown, Dom Capers To Staff

Frank Reich‘s Panthers staff continues to take shape, and more familiar names are headed to Charlotte. Per a team announcement, Carolina has hired Josh McCown as quarterbacks coach and Dom Capers as a senior defensive assistant.

McCown, 43, spent two seasons (2008 and 2009) with the Panthers during his journeyman playing days. That stretch saw him attempt just six passes, but he is nevertheless a hire who, like Reich, has experience inside the organization. This position will be his first coaching opportunity at the NFL level, but certainly not the first which he was connected to.

Following the end of his playing career in Houston in 2020, McCown was named as candidate for the Texans’ head coaching vacancy. The same was true in the 2022 coaching cycle, and he was reportedly a finalist for the position before the team’s eleventh-hour decision to pivot to Lovie Smith. McCown said this past September that he would be open to taking on a non-HC role despite the repeated interest showed in him by the Texans.

In Carolina, McCown will join a highly-regarded bench boss in Reich, who figures to be heavily involved in the development of Carolina’s signal-callers (the identities of whom will, in all likelihood, be noticeably different by the start of the 2023 season than they are now). Interestingly, McCown’s hire has come before that of an offensive coordinator.

As for Capers, this news comes as little surprise. The 72-year-old will hold the same title in Carolina that he did in 2022 with the Broncos. That, of course, allowed him to work alongside defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. The pair helped guide Denver’s defense to a strong showing in the latter’s debut season at the coordinator level. Evero was hired by the Panthers to helm their defense this past weekend, and he will continue to have an experienced voice in Capers as a resource during the next chapter of his coaching career.

Capers was the head coach of the first team in Panthers history, one which was quarterbacked by Reich. He also worked with Evero during their time together with the Packers in 2016, and has given him high praise for his work as both an assistant and coordinator. Expectations will be raised for the Panthers in 2023, given their relatively strong finish to this past season, along with the acclaim and familiarity found on Reich’s staff.

Latest On Josh McCown’s Coaching Future

Former NFL quarterback Josh McCown has twice interviewed for the Texans head coaching gig, but that’s not the only interest he’s generated around the NFL. In a profile of the 43-year-old, Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes that the Colts, Eagles, and Vikings have reached out to McCown about joining their coaching staffs, with the writer suggesting there have probably been other suitors for the retired player’s services.

McCown got into 102 games after entering the NFL in 2002. He saw time in three games for the Eagles in 2019 (plus a playoff loss where he attempted 24 passes), and after briefly joining Houston’s practice squad, he was asked to interview for their head coaching job after the 2020 campaign. That gig ultimately went to David Culley, but McCown was asked to join the staff as associate head coach.

Instead, McCown joined the staff at Rusk High School in Texas, where he’s coached his sons over the past two years. He was brought in this past offseason to once again interview for Houston’s head coaching gig, with some reports suggesting he was the favorite for the position. The Texans ended up promoting defensive coordinator Lovie Smith to head coach, but McCown clearly made a good impression during his time with the Texans.

After spending time with 12 different organizations during his playing career, McCown has many connections throughout the league. As a result, Pompei writes that “there is a chance” the former QB could be hired somewhere as a head coach, a feat that would make him the first individual to go directly from the NFL to a HC gig since Norm Van Brocklin in 1961.

“Life takes you a bunch of places, and those experiences develop skill sets that you can sit on, or you can pass on and maybe try to bring more good into the world that way,” he says. “Coaching in the game of football is a way for me to do that, to pass that forward and have an influence the way some of these good men have had in my life.”

While it’d certainly be strange for McCown to jump right into a head coaching job, he has earned endorsements from a number of former coaches and executives, including Bill Parcells. While he rejected previous overtures to join coaching staffs, he made it clear that he wouldn’t solely look for a head coaching job next offseason and would consider a variety of roles.

AFC Staff Notes: McCown, Kelly, Broncos

The Texans‘ coaching search meandered from Brian Flores and Josh McCown to the latter’s former head coach. Lovie Smith coached McCown in Chicago and then brought him to Tampa in 2014. McCown interviewed for Houston’s HC job three times over the past year and change but still does not have any NFL coaching experience. While it is clear the Texans’ front office would be on board with having McCown on staff, Smith might not be. At least, not in 2022. The new Texans HC praised McCown as a future coach and added (via Fox 26’s Mark Berman, video link) he would want him on his staff “eventually someday.” Smith already promoted quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton to offensive coordinator. McCown could conceivably fill Hamilton’s old post as QBs coach, however, if the Texans are indeed intent on him eventually becoming their head coach.

Here is the latest from the AFC coaching ranks:

  • John Pagano spent the past two seasons as the Broncos‘ outside linebackers coach, taking over after Brandon Staley departed for Los Angeles in 2020. During that span, the Broncos saw some new edge contributors — Malik Reed, Stephen Weatherly and seventh-round rookie Jonathon Cooper — help out to the point the team felt OK trading Von Miller. Pagano, however, will not be on Nathaniel Hackett‘s first Denver staff, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The former Raiders and Chargers DC has now been an NFL staffer for 26 seasons.
  • Tim Kelly will serve as the Titans’ new passing-game coordinator, per’s Jim Wyatt. Kelly, the Texans’ OC from 2019-21, will work alongside Titans OC Todd Downing. Tim Kelly, the older brother of ex-Titans right tackle Dennis Kelly, and Mike Vrabel worked together on Houston’s staff ahead of the latter’s move to Tennessee. The Titans also hired Bobby King to be their inside linebackers coach. King also worked in Houston alongside Vrabel in 2017; he finished his Texans tenure as the team’s D-line coach this past season.
  • Denver interviewed Jason Simmons for its defensive coordinator job — a post expected to go to Rams secondary coach Ejiro Evero — but the Carolina assistant will instead head to Las Vegas. The Raiders are hiring Simmons as their secondary coach, Aaron Wilson of tweets. Simmons worked with new Raider DC Patrick Graham with the Packers in 2018.
  • The Steelers did not renew Ike Hilliard‘s contract, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (on Twitter), and hired Frisman Jackson to coach their wide receivers. Jackson will leave Matt Rhule‘s hub for ex-Temple and Baylor coaches for Pittsburgh. The former NFL wideout, after stints with Rhule at both college programs, coached the Panthers’ receivers in each of Rhule’s first two years. Hilliard served as the Steelers’ receivers coach during that span.
  • Ex-NFL D-linemen-turned-assistants Brentson Buckner and Phillip Daniels may be vying for the Jaguars‘ D-line coach role, with Wilson adding the team is considering each for the position (Twitter link). Buckner currently serves as the Cardinals’ D-line coach. Daniels has less experience but worked under Doug Pederson in Philadelphia, working with the Eagles’ D-line from 2016-19. The Eagles fired Daniels after the ’19 season.
  • The Jags are also hiring Louisiana assistant head coach Rory Segrest, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman tweets. Segrest has been in the college ranks for over a decade but was with the Eagles during Pederson’s time working under Andy Reid in the late 2000s.
  • Circling back to the Broncos, they added a few more assistants early this week. UNLV DC Peter Hansen signed on to be Denver’s linebackers coach, Klis tweets. Hanson and Eviro were on Vic Fangio‘s 49ers staff from 2011-13. The Broncos also named Ben Steele their tight ends coach, Klis notes. Steele was the Vikings’ assistant O-line coach under Klint Kubiak this past season. Mike Mallory also joined Hackett’s Denver staff as assistant special teams coordinator (Twitter links). Mallory spent eight seasons with the Jaguars, as their ST coordinator and assistant ST coordinator (2013-20), working with Hackett for part of that stretch.

Latest On Texans’ Coaching Staff

In 14 months, Lovie Smith has gone from being dismissed as the University of Illinois’ head coach to securing a third shot as an NFL HC. The Texans officially hired Smith on Monday, and the veteran defensive-minded coach will pull double duty in his next assignment.

Smith, 63, will retain defensive play-calling responsibilities, Field Yates of tweets. The former Bears and Buccaneers HC had been in the college ranks for five seasons prior to resurfacing as the Texans’ defensive coordinator last year. Now, he will wear two rather important hats for the rebuilding team.

GM Nick Caserio said Tuesday that Smith’s hire did not take place because of Brian Flores‘ lawsuit against the NFL, via the Houston Chronicle’s Brooks Kubena. Flores and Josh McCown were believed to be the final two in the running for the job. The longtime quarterback having never coached in the NFL likely played into Smith’s hire, but Caserio predictably indicated the team had not made a decision until it landed on Smith. Caserio did not deny McCown remained in play for another role with the team, though Smith already has his offensive coordinator in place.

Pep Hamilton is in line to call Houston’s offensive plays, being promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. While Hamilton’s rise was on the radar before Smith entered the equation, Smith said keeping the Texans’ QBs coach was “a must.” One of Smith’s first acts as Houston’s head coach was communicating to Hamilton his importance for developing Davis Mills. A year after overseeing Justin Herbert‘s rise to Offensive Rookie of the Year as Chargers QBs coach, Hamilton helped Mills show promise down the stretch.

Pep has an expertise when you look at his background,” Smith said Tuesday. “What he did in Los Angeles with Herbert to where he did with Davis here. He is a fundamental coach who has a defensive mentality on toughness. I am so excited about him being on our staff and to see what he is going to do.”

Smith is moving quickly on his assistants as well. The Texans are hiring George Warhop as their offensive line coach and Hal Hunter as his assistant,’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Warhop, 60, has now been employed as an O-line coach by a fourth of the NFL’s teams. From 1996 through last season, Warhop has been with the Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys, 49ers, Browns, Buccaneers and Jaguars. Warhop’s Tampa Bay stay began when Smith arrived in 2014. Warhop coached the Jags’ O-lines for the past three seasons.

Hunter, 62, has extensive experience as well, including at the coordinator level. He spent the 2012 season as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator, moving up to that post after coaching the previous six Bolts O-lines — groups that helped LaDainian Tomlinson secure first-ballot Hall of Fame entry. Hunter was last in the NFL as the Giants’ O-line coach from 2018-19.

Houston is also hiring Tim Berbenich as its tight ends coach, Fox 26’s Mark Berman tweets. This will be new territory for Berbenich, who spent last season as the Raiders’ running backs coach. In 19 seasons as an NFL assistant, Berbenich has primarily coached running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks. He was a Colts staffer during each of Hamilton’s three years as Indianapolis’ OC.

Texans Moving Towards Hiring Lovie Smith As Head Coach

One day after his name was added to the list of finalists for the job, defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is close to being officially hired as the head coach of the Texans. As Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (via Twitter), Houston is “moving towards” hiring Smith. 

[Related: Texans Considering Lovie Smith For HC]

The 63-year-old has gone from being out of the picture with regards to the vacancy to the likely hire in a matter of hours. While it was believed that the three finalists for the position were former Dolphins HC Brian Flores, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and recently retired quarterback Josh McCown, it came out recently that the latter two were out of the running for the position.

The presence of Flores as a finalist came, of course, with the fact that his lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams was ongoing. Flores has made it clear he would carry on with the suit even if he had been hired by Houston or any other team. That won’t be the case, in Houston at least, as the Texans are sticking with an internal candidate to replace David Culley.

Smith brings a wealth of experience to the table, having been a head coach for 16 of the past 18 years between the NFL and NCAA ranks. His longest stint on any one sideline was as HC of the Bears between 2004 and 2012. That stretch included a Coach of The Year award, along with a Super Bowl appearance not long after. From then on, though, his time in Chicago generally went downhill; an unsuccessful two years as the HC in Tampa Bay (which came after interviewing in Houston) certainly didn’t help his chances of another opportunity to lead an NFL team. 2021 was his first and only season as the DC in Houston, a year in which the defense did show signs of improvement.

Meanwhile, Rapoport’s colleague Mike Garafolo tweets that McCown could still find himself on the Texans’ sideline this year. While that is a “possibility”, he adds that “those talks have yet to really happen”. He also states that Pep Hamilton is expected to remain on staff, becoming the new offensive coordinator.

With Smith seemingly in place, here’s what appears to be the final look at the Texans’ HC search:


2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Texans Considering Lovie Smith For HC

Despite reports that the Texans had narrowed their list of candidates down to journeyman quarterback Josh McCown and former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores, Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that current defensive coordinator and associate head coach Lovie Smith is now in talks with Houston about potentially becoming their next head coach. Smith interviewed with the team earlier tonight, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. This is the second time Smith has been considered for the Texans’ head coach position, the first time being when he interviewed with the team in December 2013 prior to accepting the head coaching job in Tampa Bay. 

Smith has spent 16 of the last 18 years as a head coach at some level. After three years of coaching at the high school level, Smith spent the next 13 years bouncing around the NCAA as a position coach with stops at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio State. He accepted a job as the Buccaneers’ linebackers coach in 1996 and, after five seasons in Tampa Bay, was hired as the defensive coordinator of the Rams. Smith took the St. Louis defense from a league-worst 29.4 points per game to seventh in the league allowing 17.1 points per game in his first year leading the defense.

Smith soon earned the head coaching job for the Bears in 2004. Despite losing starting quarterback Rex Grossman to injury for most of the 2005 season, the Bears would get a first round bye in the playoffs as the NFC’s number two-seed in Lovie’s second year as head coach, winning Smith the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award. In 2006, the Bears were the NFC’s number one-seed, owning the NFL’s second-ranked scoring offense and fifth-ranked overall defense. In his third season as an NFL head coach, Smith became the first Black head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl, and the second minority head coach after Tom Flores.

The next six years saw the Bears miss the playoffs five times despite only two losing seasons and never finishing with a record worse than 7-9. Smith was fired after failing to reach the playoffs in the 2012 season despite finishing with a record of 10-6, the last winning season the Bears would see until 2018.

After a year hiatus from the NFL, Smith was brought in to replace Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers went 2-14 and 6-10 in Smith’s first two seasons and Smith was fired with three years remaining on his contract.

After Tampa Bay, Smith accepted the job of head coach at the University of Illinois. A perennial basement-dweller in the Big Ten, Smith amassed a 17-39 record in five seasons at Illinois. In 2019, he did lead the Fighting Illini to their first bowl game appearance since 2014, but was fired the next year after starting the season 2-5.

Following his stint in college football, Smith was hired by Houston in March of 2021 in his current role under rookie head coach David Culley, returning to the NFL after a 5 year hiatus. Smith did improve the Texans’ defense from ranking 30th in defensive DVOA in 2020 to 23rd in 2021, but Houston was not one of the league’s better defensive units.

Schefter reported that Smith was always included in the Texans’ discussions, but his candidacy for head coach didn’t start gaining momentum until very recently. The consensus in the media is that, along with this revived interest in Smith, McCown is no longer being considered for the position, as Schefter, Rapoport, and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero have all tweeted as much.

It looks, for now, as if Brian Flores and Lovie Smith are the two candidates the Texans are focusing on for the position moving forward, unless any more surprise candidates find their way into contention. Be sure to follow our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker to keep up with updates to the remaining open positions.