On the same day the Houston Texans announced DeMeco Ryans would become the eighth head coach in franchise history, the Denver Broncos blew the news out of the water by revealing that they are trading for and hiring Super Bowl-winning, superstar coach Sean Payton. The DeMeco Ryans-Texans move may not have gotten the fanfare it deserved in the NFL world at large, but that’s OK. After posting an 11-38-1 record over the last three seasons, hiring a new Texans head coach wasn’t about making a splash. It was about getting it right, and that’s exactly what the franchise did by hiring Ryans.

DeMeco Ryans can turn the Houston Texans around

The Houston Texans are the newest team in the NFL. The franchise played its first season as an expansion team in 2002 and didn’t make the playoffs for the first nine seasons. That all changed in 2011, and the team enjoyed a solid run for the next nine seasons. From 2011 to 2019, the Texans made the playoffs six times.

Since the implosion of the Deshaun Watson situation at the end of 2019, the Texans again fell on hard times. However, trading Watson to the Cleveland Browns gave the team extra first-round picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024 and extra third- and fourth-rounders in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

That haul should set the Texans up for success in the future. However, finding the right Texans coach to mold all these incoming young players was crucial.

Ideally, the franchise would get a young, exciting coach who can relate to young players and who is excellent at their job on one side of the ball or the other. Also, getting a coach who understands Houston — as a city and an organization — and has pride in the (admittedly) young red, white, and blue logo.

That last part might be the most difficult, as the team only has two decades of history to pull from.

Amazingly, one of the hottest names on the coaching market in 2023 just happened to check all those boxes, including the last one.

Demeco Ryans was a standout linebacker at Alabama who the Texans drafted in the second round (No. 33 overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft. The LB was an immediate star, winning NFL Rookie of the Year in his inaugural pro season. After that, he spent five more years in Houston, making his only two Pro Bowls and helping his team make the postseason for the first time in 2011.

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Ryans left the Texans in the 2012 offseason and played four more NFL seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles. The highly-respected linebacker ended his career with 970 tackles, 72 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks, seven interceptions, and seven forced fumbles.
After retiring in 2016, Ryans took a job as a low-level defensive assistant with the 49ers in 2017. From there, he rose up the ranks of Kyle Shanahan’s staff, taking over as defensive coordinator from Robert Saleh in 2021. In his first season as DC, the new Texans coach led a top 10 defense that was ranked 10th in fewest points allowed (365) and third in fewest yards allowed (5,270).

A season later, DeMeco Ryans presided over the No. 1 defense in the NFL that was first in scoring (286 points allowed) and in yards allowed (5,110 — six yards more than the Buffalo Bills, but the AFC squad only played 16 games).

The 38-year-old is now the perfect fit as the Texans head coach. He is young, energetic, and just six years removed from his playing career. He also is one of the best defensive schemers and play-callers in the league right now.

And what makes the DeMeco Ryans-Texans marriage truly special is that he has a love and respect for the franchise that no other coach on the market has.

In the end, the Texans got the right man. Ryans is a leader of men and will connect with the many young players he’ll have coming in over the next few seasons well. He’ll also likely bring in a Kyle Shanahan disciple to run the offense, which isn’t a bad selling point either.

The Texans will draft a quarterback No. 2 overall this draft, and that will set the franchise on the right path. As long as Ryans tabs the right offensive coaches to guide that young QB — be it C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, or Will Levis — the team should improve quickly.

Plus, the 2023 DeMeco Ryans-Texans defense should be much improved. Rookie defensive backs Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre give Ryans a good base to start with, and he’ll surely add more defensive playmakers in the draft and in free agency with over $37 million in cap room.

Sean Payton to Denver may be the story today, but come next January, don’t be surprised if DeMeco Ryans as the Texans head coach is a bigger one.