The Houston Texans spent nearly a month engaged in a coaching search only to conclude it with the promotion of defensive coordinator and associate head coach Lovie Smith.
During the process, the Texans were interviewing former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who had significant ties to general manager Nick Caserio and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby when the trio worked with the New England Patriots together from 2013-18.
Instead of going with a 40-year-old who posted consecutive winning seasons for the Miami Dolphins in his final two of three years, Houston went with a coach who hadn’t commanded an NFL sideline since 2015 when he was fired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after going 8-24 in his two-year tenure.
Caserio explained during his availability at the NFL combine in Indianapolis why the Texans decided to stay in-house rather than adding another former Patriot.
“I would say just personally speaking, I have a lot of respect and admiration for Brian,” said Caserio. “I think he’s one of the better coaches in our league. We had a lot of time together there in New England. Ultimately as we went through kind of the hiring process and the hiring cycle, my responsibility to the organization and the ownership was to make the decision I felt was in our best interest.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers hired Flores as their senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach, and Caserio is confident his former New England colleague will do well.
Said Caserio: “Brian was certainly a part of that process. Brian is a great coach, and I know he’ll do a lot of good things with the Steelers, I’m sure, and he’ll be in this league for a long time. But ultimately in the end, we just felt that Lovie made the most sense for our team and situation at the time.”
According to Caserio, chairman and CEO Cal McNair placed the responsibility on him alone to choose the franchise’s fifth full-time coach in team history.
“Ultimately Cal kind of put it on my shoulders to make the decision I felt was best and to bring candidates to the table,” Caserio said. “Cal was very, I would say, supportive and open and certainly put a lot of stock in the things that I had to say.”