Sean Pendergast

Could Lovie Smith Save His Job With Two More Wins?

The Texans win over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday could launch a Lovie Smith retention after the season.
The Texans win over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday could launch a Lovie Smith retention after the season. Photo by Jack Gorman
On the heels of a 51-14 Christmas day loss, in which his defense didn't force a single punt by the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett became FORMER Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett, as the new owners of the Broncos decided to remedy one of the two huge mistakes made under the previous ownership:
Unfortunately, for the Broncos and their fans, there is nothing that the new owners, descendants of the Walton family that founded Walmart, can do to remedy the other massive error made under the Bowlen family — the trade for and subsequent contract extension given to quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson is barely one season into a five year deal that pays him nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, and he appears to be abjectly washed up.

One thing we do know, though, is that there are three NFL franchises that will finials out the season with interim head coaches — the Carolina Panthers, the Indianapolis Colts, and now the Broncos. Obviously, there are several other franchises that will move on from their current head coach within the next few weeks, if not during the season, then on Black Monday just after the season.

From around their bye week in Week 6, through about Week 12 and the catastrophic loss to the Dolphins, the Texans were widely expected to be one of those teams moving on from their head coach, and Lovie Smith is still very much in the crosshairs, don't get me wrong. However, close losses to the Cowboys and Chiefs, followed by a classic spoiler win over the Tennessee Titans, have done nothing to hurt Lovie Smith's chances of staying, and he may be a couple more solid games away from sticking around for another season.

The "keep Lovie" narrative has already begun, and the final two games in the season are about as "narrative conducive" as Lovie could hope for. If they beat the Jaguars this weekend, they will be extending their winning streak over that franchise to ten games and defeating one of the hottest teams in football. If they then beat the Colts in Week 18, they'll finish 4-1-1 in the division.

Now, to be clear, I could care less about a 4-1-1 record in the division, or even actual division crowns quite honestly, but I am not a member of the McNair family nor am I Nick Caserio, the two entities who would decide Lovie's fate. I will remind you the McNair family kept Bill O'Brien around (and gave him more power) largely based on winning a bunch of AFC South titles against largely rotten competition. In short, things like a 4-1-1 record in the division might seem to matter to them.

If you're someone who doesn't believe Lovie Smith is the coach that takes this team to the next level eventually (a group I count myself part of, no disrespect to Smith), then your thought process is "Why delay the inevitable?" —  which is totally reasonable. Add to this the fact that the Texans winning games might compel the team to KEEP Smith, while tangibly damaging their chances at getting the No. 1 overall pick, and it's totally understandable that Texan fans would root against the team down the stretch "for the greater good."

Put simply, would you rather have the Texans picking fifth in the draft and Lovie Smith back as head coach next season, or would you rather have the Texans picking first in the draft with a new head coach? If you're choosing the former, do so at your own peril. Unfortunately, this may be the direction the season is headed.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast