Something that head coach Lovie Smith brings to the Houston Texans in bucket loads is respectability.
Having coached the game at one level or another for 42 years, mentoring greats like Devin Hester, Brian Urlacher, and Aeneas Williams along the way, Smith is a well-respected figure around the league.
Some might let this reputation get to their heads, allowing themselves to change when in a position of power like say a head coaching role. But according to Texans safety Jonathan Owens, Smith hasn't changed one bit since his promotion.
"I guess now he cracks a few more jokes now because he’s running the team meetings now," Owens said. "But he’s been the same guy since I got here. You see that beard and it’s just a respect factor, so you want to go out there and do everything for him and execute the game plan the way he wants it."
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Smith and his envy-inducing beard have helped get Owens' NFL career off the ground in 2021. After two years of playing sparingly for the Texans, primarily as a special teamer, Smith moved Owens into the starting lineup later in the season, playing 100 percent of Houston's defensive snaps in Weeks 14 and 15.
Now heading into 2022 with the starting spots at safety seemingly open, Owens is in a good spot to challenge, under a head coach that he, and everyone else admires.
"I got pretty close with Lovie last year, just with him becoming the head coach it was an easier transition," Owens said. "Guys are just buying in. Lovie's a guy that you have a lot of respect for so you want to play hard for him, you want to make those plays for him. I feel like the whole team now, not just the defense that understood him last year, it's the whole team that understands Lovie's vision and how he wants the team to play and perform."