With the start of the 2022 NFL season just over two months away, all 32 teams are looking to make their mark across the league’s landscape. Having already assembled the majority of their respective 90-man rosters, the process for teams’ determining which players will be chosen to represent each franchise for the upcoming season is about to begin; as training camps are set to open in late July.
Though the players on the field ultimately make or break the plays, they are most often put in the position to either succeed or fail by their head coach. Strategies, schemes and decisions can sometimes be the difference between victory and defeat. Unsurprisingly, teams with the right coach for the job are almost always the most successful.
In an effort to evaluate which of the NFL’s 32 teams are best positioned for coaching success, CBS Sports submitted their pre-season rankings for each of the league’s head coaches. Their assessment was divided into four tiers and each coach was ranked from worst to first based on how they would "draft" them for this season. CBS based its evaluation on the criteria of both trust and positioning for success.
Unfortunately for the Houston Texans, coach Lovie Smith ranked 32nd on their list.
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CBS Sports’ Assessment of Smith:
32. Lovie Smith (Texans)
Season: 1st with Texans, 12th as HC
Career record: 89-87 (.506) | Playoffs: 3-3 (0-1 in Super Bowls)
He's been around the game forever, and he's got the character to restore the culture, and wait a second, are we just describing David Culley again? Yes, Lovie has also been there, done that as a head man. But he hasn't posted a winning record in either college or the NFL since 2012, when Jay Cutler was throwing to Brandon Marshall on the Bears. At 64, coming off a bad year running their defense, he feels like another stopgap, and management saddling him with free agent leftovers doesn't help.
Having patrolled the sidelines in various coaching capacities at both the collegiate and pro level since 1980, Smith faces perhaps his toughest test to date in 2022. While the media circus surrounding former quarterback Deshaun Watson has left town, Houston still faces a potentially dismal fate in the upcoming season. Though he spent 2021 as the Texans’ associate head coach and defensive coordinator under head coach David Culley, Smith will be in charge of a roster with some potential — but is likely not ready for prime time.
Smith now enters 2022 as a head coach in the NFL for the first time since 2015, when he served as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though their offense is predicted to struggle under second-year quarterback Davis Mills, Smith's defensive prowess may help the team build on some promise from the previous season. In 2021, Houston recorded 25 total takeaways, tied for 10th in the NFL, while intercepting 3.1% of opponent passing attempts, the fifth-highest rate in the league.