Build with new coach DeMeco Ryans and 2 exciting starters
13 mins read

Build with new coach DeMeco Ryans and 2 exciting starters

(Yahoo Sports Graphics by Hana Luca)

(Yahoo Sports Graphics by Hana Luca)

With the first pick in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected Alabama linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

They took Ryan over linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and Rocky McIntosh, who went with the next two picks. He was, said then-Texans coach Gary Kubik “really surprised” Ryan was available.

If a team at the end of the first round had taken the Ryans, or if the Texans had liked Jackson or McIntosh a little more, or if Houston weren’t looking to add players to their fresh 4-3 streak, things might be different in 2023.

The Texans shouldn’t be an attractive coaching opportunity for a great defensive coordinator like Ryans. Houston for the past three seasons has been 11-38-1, and due to some bad trades and recruiting selection, the roster wasn’t filled with exciting young talent. There was no future quarterback on the roster and they didn’t even get a first overall pick, dropping to second place when they pulled off an improbable win in their last game last season. The bug at the front office was well known. Houston became the first team since the San Francisco 49ers of the 1970s to have two one-time coaches in a row. What was Texas going to sell to the candidates? The chance to take the second best quarterback in the draft?

But Ryans, who spent a good six seasons with the Texans and became a popular figure among fans, had a soft spot for Houston. He wanted to coach the Texans. If the Seattle Seahawks had taken Ryans over Kelly Jennings with the 31st pick in 2006 or the New York Giants had taken him over Matias Kiwanuka, it might not have been Houston. “dream job” NFL Rookie of the Year Coaching Nominee.

This is the blind luck of Texas. They needed to take a break.

“There’s nowhere I’ve wanted to be more than in H-Town,” Ryans said after being hired. According to the team site. “It was an easy choice for me. It was easy being here, being home. It wasn’t a hard decision at all. It wasn’t a hard decision at all. It was very easy.”

Not every hot assistant works as an NFL head coach, but Ryans checks a lot of boxes. He did a great job managing the 49ers defense. He is respected by the players 10 years into his NFL career. And he has the energy it will take to restore the citizens of Texas to respect.

DeMeco Ryans was a Pro Bowl starter for the Houston Texans before returning to be their head coach.  (Photo by Bob Levy/Getty Images)

DeMeco Ryans was a Pro Bowl starter for the Houston Texans before returning to be their head coach. (Photo by Bob Levy/Getty Images)

The future will revolve around a pair of top three draft picks. The Texans took quarterback CJ Stroud with the second pick, then traded for rushing pass taker Will Anderson Jr. with the third pick. They gave up a lot to go up to No. 3 for Anderson, including a 2024 first-round pick that could be as high as first overall. Team owner Cal McNair had to Drop speculation However, Stroud’s selection prompted the team’s front office to overpay to move again to take Anderson, the player they wanted. No matter what happened, Stroud and Anderson are very good prospects for high-value positions. Houston may have some regrets when the Arizona Cardinals use their first-round pick next year, but that’s for another day. At least they got a couple of good players.

Houston needed some positive news. You can see more hope on the roster, including a QB who you have to be optimistic about. They have a hot young coach. Houston hasn’t had much to cheer about in the past few years, but there are finally reasons to believe there are better days to come.

A second-round pick in 2006 may end up changing the franchise more than anyone realizes.

offseason degree

Texas hasn’t pursued high-priced free agents of prime age in the past few years, mostly preferring to add temporary veterans. This year, Dalton Schultz was the only free agent to add and earned more than $3.5 million on the season and was also the youngest at 28 years old. Schultz only got a one-year deal for $6.25 million. The biggest deal in total was $15.25 million over two years for receiver Robert Woods, who is 31 years old. Houston didn’t pay enough to keep defenseman Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who earned $19 million over three years from the Cleveland Browns. The Texans traded trade receiver Branden Cox to the Dallas Cowboys after a heated 2022 season. The low-cost trade for guard helps Shaq Mason create an offensive line that could be greatly improved. It’s hard to judge the Texans’ draft without counting the cost of Will Anderson Jr. It’s a good prospect, and any team that takes two players with the first three draft picks will get great draft scores. But the price the Texans paid for stepping up and getting Anderson — first, second, and third — was steep. We’ll see how that happens. But the acquisition of quarterback CJ Stroud was a smart move for a team that needed to do something to fix this situation.

degree: C plus

Quarterback report

If McNair pushed his team to draft a quarterback, it’s not scandalous. Spinning their wheels with Davis Mills for another year isn’t going to make anyone happy. Stroud went through a rollercoaster in March and early April with his stock going up and down, but in the end he was the right pick for second overall. Stroud doesn’t have many weaknesses: He’s accurate and athletic enough to move in the pocket, seems courteous in his readings and has been a productive player at Ohio State. Stroud may never win MVP awards, but he could be a top 10 quarterback in the NFL if he hits his ceiling.

Breakdown of BetMGM odds

Unlike the Cardinals, I’m not going to be so quick to get Texas’ winning total of 5.5 at BetMGM. There are signs of improvement, although many gaps remain. I would gladly buy stock in DeMeco Ryans as an NFL coach and maybe he can revitalize the franchise. The slight optimism about the 2023 Texas championship doesn’t lead me to take over either, but I’d be wary about Houston fading early in the season.

Take Yahoo Fictional

From Scott Pianowski of Yahoo: “If you’re a running back associated with a losing NFL team, you generally need to receive the chops to pull your weight as a fantasy factor. Damon Pierce didn’t show those chops last year. There were 39 different linebackers who caught 25 passes or last season, he ranked Pierce ranked 37 in yards per catch and 36 in yards per score among that group.Sure, some of that blame lies at the feet of the Davis Mills and the entire Houston offensive infrastructure, but it’s unfair to expect rookie QB CJ Stroud to be an immediate miracle worker .

Pierce was a valuable find for Houston in the fourth round last year, but he wasn’t a standout linebacker in any way. He’s currently being drafted around the RB22, ostensibly a starter in most fantasy leagues, but it’s wise to target him as a third or fourth, and if not You land him at those low expectations, that’s how it goes.”

Stats to remember

The Texans needed some young stars for replenishment, and they had two Big 15 draft picks in 2022. Both players still have a lot to prove.

the Focus scores on professional football Cornerback Derrick Stingley Jr. (3rd pick) and guard Kenyon Green (15th pick) were ugly. Stingley ranked 111th out of 116 qualified cornerbacks while Green ranked 77th out of 77 guards. Even if you factor in the struggles of beginners and any doubts about PFF grades, this isn’t a good place to start. Stingley had some promising moments and didn’t allow a touchdown all season, but he gave up plenty of yards, went to injured reserve after just nine games and will always be compared to 2022 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner, who passed the Texans when they took Stingley. Green allowed plenty of QB pressure (47 by PFF count, fourth-most by guard), didn’t distinguish himself as a run blocker and fell into a guard rotation for a few games in the second half of the season. Both players are just starting their careers, but Texas needs both of them to play better in their sophomore seasons.

burning question

Could Anderson Jr be a star for Houston?

Much has been said and will be said about the Texans’ trade that landed them Anderson, a fine passer from Alabama. The cost of the trade was significant for Houston, but it didn’t matter if Anderson was the player the Texans clearly believed he could be.

Anderson, who would transition from an outside linebacker to a 4-3 defensive position in the DeMeco Ryans scheme, was a dominant player for the Crimson Tide. He won the Bronko Nagurski Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player, two seasons in a row. There has been some question from draft experts about his true cap as a pro, but the Texans insist he will be elite. It is crucial to the future of Texas that Anderson is hitting.

“With Will, I’ve watched him for a long time now, and I’ve seen quite a few of his games, but again I’ve seen the fierce competitor he is,” said Ryan. “Every time they watched Alabama, when they needed to play defense, he was 31. This was the guy who would step up and make a play. Everyone knows the leadership qualities he has.”

best case scenario

There are signs of hope for Texans. It may not be a surprising playoff team in 2023, but it could be some young building blocks like CJ Stroud, Damon Pierce, Nico Collins, and John Michie III (whose return from acute myeloid leukemia will be one of the best stories of the season) Will Anderson Jr. and Derek Stingley Jr. have productive seasons and the Texans graduate past being one of the worst teams in the NFL. DeMeco Ryans was a great hire. There are some interesting pieces in place. We may be starting to see progress this season.

nightmare scenario

Perhaps the costly Texans trade for Will Anderson Jr. will work out, with Anderson looking like the next Von Miller and Houston winning a few games. But what about this prospect: Texans suck again, Anderson doesn’t look great and Houston 2024 picks first overall? The Cardinals will either use that pick on a higher-ranking quarterback, like Caleb Williams, or trade him for a franchise-changing draft pick. If Texans have the NFL’s worst record and watch someone else use their top pick from the draft to turn their fortunes around… no good.

crystal ball says…

Texas must improve. It may not mean a huge uptick in wins, but by the end of the season, Houston should feel better about their trajectory. CJ Stroud was a smart choice and should show himself to be a competent quarterback in the future. DeMeco Ryans would be a good coach. The Texans’ record won’t be this pretty, but there will be some optimism ahead. This is a successful season for them.

Other previews

32. Arizona Cardinals

31. Houston Texans

30. Chicago Bears

29. Tennessee Titans

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25. Washington leaders

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3. Cincinnati Bengals

2. Philadelphia Eagles

1. The Kansas City Chiefs

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