Smith has served as Houston's general manager since 2006.
"I am eternally grateful to the McNair family for their unwavering support during this trying time", Smith said in a statement Sunday.
We all wish Smith and his wife strength and positive vibes as they deal with her cancer and hope it all ends positively. Smith was given a four-year contract extension in July 2016. Sure there's going to be some issues arise when it comes to O'Brien's future in Houston and who he will now talk with as it relates to said future.
Week 17 Ups and Downs: Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears
But while the Vikings could still lean on a running game that churned out 147 yards on 36 attempts, the Bears had no such success. Jeremiah Sirles started at left guard for Nick Easton, who will miss the playoffs because of a broken ankle.
O'Brien, 31-33 in Houston, is entering the final year of his contract in 2018. They would like to have the position filled this week, according to persons familiar with the situation.
It is unclear at this point whether O'Brien will have a greater say in personnel decisions in Smith's absence.
In other words, if Smith drafted or signed players O'Brien didn't want, the coach didn't have to play them. He's had three 9-7 seasons and won two AFC South titles, but the Texans have collapsed to 4-11 this year after star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson tore his ACL. But later picks haven't panned out as well and his free-agent signings have been mixed.
Watson was putting up some kind of video game numbers in a system O'Brien designed for him prior to his ACL injury, and with the loss of Watson came the loss of the Texans' season.