Expectations for head coach DeMeco Ryans and the Texans for 2023
Former NFL linebacker DeMeco Ryans became the sixth head coach in Houston Texans franchise history by signing a six-year contract during the offseason. What should the projection be in H-Town with Ryans at the helm?
Ryans is heading into his first head coaching job in 2023 with the responsibility to rejuvenate and bring relevancy to a franchise that hasn’t had a plus four-win season since 2019. The Texans had an eventful offseason, more specifically regarding the 2023 NFL draft by drafting quarterback C.J Stroud with the second overall pick and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. with the third overall pick.
Houston finished the 2022 season with a 3-13-1 record, their third consecutive losing season and tallying only eleven wins since 2020. In 2022, the Texans ranked 30th in total defense and 31st in total offense. The 2019 AFC South division champions trotted out three quarterbacks in 2022 such as Davis Mills, Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel. Mills, a third-round 2021 draft pick, played the bulk of the snaps on offense by playing fifteen games garnering 3,118 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
The Texans no longer have to go back and forth between multiple mediocre pass throwers since they selected former heisman finalist Stroud. The former Ohio State Buckeye quarterback and Ryans is a breathe of fresh air and radiates optimism for the franchise after consecutive losing seasons and the dark cloud regarding the Deshaun Watson sexual assault allegations.
Since Houston made aggressive efforts to rebuild their roster and coaching staff, it must mean that the franchise is aiming to seriously contend in the AFC. The Texans have adequate pass catchers for Stroud to throw to such as former Los Angeles Rams wideout Robert Woods (coming off torn ACL in 2021) , 2022 second-round pick John Metchie III (will make NFL debut in 2023), former Dallas Cowboys tight-end Dalton Schultz and Nico Collins.
Also in the offensive weaponry is second year halfback Dameon Pierce, who tallied 939 rush yards (17th in league) and 30 catches for 165 yards in 2022. Houston beefed up their offensive line by acquiring former Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Shaq Mason and 2023 second-round pick center Juice Scruggs. A competent offensive line is essential for a rookie quarterback and a second-year halfback for their development.
Ryans served as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers (’21-’22) and led them to a third place finish in 2021 and a first place finish in 2022 in total defense. The former linebacker will have heavy input on the defensive side of the ball even though first-year defensive coordinator Matt Burke is calling the shots on defense. Houston’s young defensive core features 2022 first-round pick cornerback Derek Stingley Jr, 2022 PFWA All-Rookie team selection safety Jalen Pitre and Anderson. The defensive line for Houston has been a weak point and have added former New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to pair with Anderson to garner a competent pass rush.
Houston has been on the island of irrelevancy for the past three seasons, and Ryans was brought on to be the catalyst of change. After an intense and rejuvenating offseason, Houston still doesn’t have all the ingredients to contend in the AFC, but they will be relatively better in 2023 and looks to be on track for a bright future.
Ryans was drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft to Houston, where he spent six seasons (’06-’11) and also spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (’12-’15) before retiring in 2015. Ryans was the 2006 NFL Defensive Rookie of Year, a first-team all pro selection (’07) and a two-time pro-bowler (’07,’09).