Demeco Ryans coaching a 49ers player.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Samson Ebukam (56) talks with defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

In a move that wasn’t unexpected, the Texans fired head coach Lovie Smith just hours after their regular-season finale win over Indianapolis.

There is a lot of debate about the fairness of firing Smith after just one season, just as there was after his predecessor David Culley was unceremoniously fired after just one season.

It’s certainly not a good look for the Texans to hire back-to-back African American head coaches and fire both after just one season, especially considering the across-the-board lack of talent the franchise has on the roster.

As unprecedented as it is to make two African American men one-and-done NFL coaches in successive seasons, it would also be equally unprecedented to have three straight African American coaches hired by any franchise.

Surely this week you will hear former Saints coach Sean Payton’s name thrown around as the Texans’ dream hire. But Payton will cost the Texans one of their two first-round draft picks and likely Nick Caserio’s job as the general manager because Payton is said to want total control.

In the meantime, there are some interesting African American coaches out there, including former Texans star linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who will be one of the most sought-after head coaching candidates given his accomplishments as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator.

In addition to Ryans, potential names include Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. There is also former Miami head coach Brian Flores, who seemed to be Caserio’s favored candidate last year before his departure with the Dolphins grew messy and turned into a lawsuit against the NFL.

Let’s take a look at five African American coaches the Texans should consider. At least one will be interviewed to satisfy the league’s Rooney Rule, which mandates that teams must interview at least one minority candidate for the head coaching opening.

Eric Bienemy

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy addresses the media during an NFL football news conference at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., in this Jan. 23, 2020, file photo. Bieniemy has become the cause celebre when it comes to minority assistants who have been denied the opportunity to become head coaches in the NFL. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

This isn’t the first time Eric Bienemy’s name has come up in a coaching search for the Texans’ head job. In fact, he has been on the short list for the last two years. The Texans could finally pull the trigger this time. It’s almost a given the Texans will use their No. 2 overall pick to take a quarterback. Bienemy, the man who has coached future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes to elite status, seems ideal to chart the path for top QB prospects Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud.

DeMeco Ryans

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Samson Ebukam (56) talks with defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

While a reunion between the Texans and former linebacker DeMeco Ryans seems like a great story, it likely will not happen because of how things ended when Ryans departed as a player. He blamed the Texans and their poor field conditions for his torn Achilles injury. But if they can somehow get over that, Ryans is expected to be one of the most coveted up-and-coming coaches this offseason and the Texans could benefit from his energy, leadership and stellar defensive scheme.

Brian Flores

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores speaks during NFL football training camp,Thursday, July 25, 2019, in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

It’s no secret that Texans general manager Nick Caserio coveted Brian Flores for the head coaching job last year after he was unceremoniously fired by the Dolphins. But it became complicated after Flores accused the Dolphins owner of offering him money to tank games, then filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL. Flores spent this season working as an assistant coach in Pittsburgh and as the controversy calmed down some, Caserio could be ready to turn to his former New England Patriots colleague.

Byron Leftwich

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich walks on the field during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec.11, 2022, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

All Byron Leftwich has done as a play caller and offensive coordinator during his tenure in Tampa Bay is win a Super Bowl and coach the most accomplished quarterback to play the game. He would come with the benefit of learning under offensive guru Bruce Arians and having coached Tom Brady the past few seasons. The knowledge Leftwich could pass on to a young quarterback like Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud could be invaluable.  

Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Leslie Frazier stands for the National Anthem before playing against the New York Jets in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills won 20-12. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)

Leslie Frazier

While definitely the elder statesman of the bunch, 63-year-old Leslie Frazier offers invaluable leadership and proven ability as one of the best defensive minds in the game. There will be a lot of attention paid to what the Texans need to do offensively, but fixing the defense is just as much a top priority. Frazier would greatly improve the defense, while also providing overall leadership that will help the offense grow. His defense has been a major reason the Bills have consistently been one of the top AFC teams the past few seasons.