Thursday, February 10, 2022

Is Pep Hamilton Texans' Big Offseason Coaching Move?


Elevating Pep Hamilton to offensive coordinator after hiring Lovie Smith as head coach could be Texans' most influential decision of offseason.

fEBRUARY 9, 2022

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans coaching staff is in the midst of a substantial rebuild for the second consecutive year. 

Lovie Smith, introduced as the fifth head coach in franchise history on Tuesday, is putting together a staff with the intentions of guiding Houston out of football purgatory. Smith has given the daunting task of revamping the inferior offense to Pep Hamilton. 

Hamilton served as the team's quarterbacks coach under David Culley during the 2021 season, but was elevated to offensive coordinator following the hiring of Smith.

Smith, NFL Coach of the Year in 2005, said having Hamilton on his staff "was a must," especially considering the relationship he established with rookie quarterback Davis Mills. There is a chance that Hamilton could be the most significant decision Smith and the Texans make this offseason.

"We have a new challenge," Hamilton said Tuesday. "... It helps when you have an idea of your personnel's strength and weakness, and it is our job as an offensive staff to put our players in a position to utilize their strength." 

One of the lessons Mills learned under Hamilton's tutelage was that scars are a reminder of prospering, and it's one the 47-year-old North Carolina native could utilize for himself taking the reign as Houston's offensive coordinator. 

Amidst a 4-13 season in 2021, the Texans put together the league's most inefficient offense, averaging an NFL low of 278.1 total yards per game while averaging 16.5 points. Fortunately for the Texans, Hamilton has experience taking an inadequate offense and turning it into one of the best in the league. 

In 2013, Hamilton received his first NFL offensive coordinator job with the Indianapolis Colts. Before his arrival, the Colts were a mediocre offensive team at best despite an 11-5 record. Indy ended the 2012 campaign with the league's 18th-best offense. 

The Colts upped their offensive production in two of the three seasons Hamilton served as OC. Hamilton's best season came in 2014 — where the 11-5 Colts averaged 28.6 points and 417.1 total yards

With Hamilton helping the Colts reach the AFC Championship game (lost to the New England Patriots), the 2014 season marked Indianapolis' most successful campaign during the post-Peyton Manning era.

"It's always a great opportunity to have one of these 32 jobs to lead an offense in the National Football League," Hamilton said. "It's a collection of people — it's not just coach Smith. But the guys on that staff that are with us moving forward that make you feel good to hit the ground running."

Hamilton had several suitors who sought his services, but ultimately decided to reunite with Smith for the first time since their days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2007-09.

Hamilton has served as the Texans' offensive coordinator for three days since his promotion. And he's already thinking about 2022 and the tools in his possession.

"With some of the known camaraderie in the locker room, starting with Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Brevin Jordan, they have shown the ability to step up and be big-time players for us," Hamilton said. "I think any good offense, you have to be able to adjust to your personnel. We will have the flexibility in our offense to execute the strength and true talents of our players."

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