DeMeco Ryans gets the chance to establish new culture with Texans

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 09: DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - OCTOBER 09: DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have desperately needed a dramatic reset of the team’s culture and reputation, and there may have only been one candidate in this year’s coaching cycle for the job. As fate would have it, the Texans were able to hire him, and they managed to get a six-year deal done to bring in former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as the team’s newest leader.

Ryans most recently the former defensive coordinator of the 49ers, but he is also one of the best players to ever don the Houston Texans uniform himself. The former second-round pick out of Alabama came to Houston in 2006 and played there until 2011. He was a tackling machine and the quarterback of the Houston defense.

Although Ryans had plenty of success on the field in Houston, he’s also seen the dysfunction off of it with that organization. As a matter of fact, Ryans sued the NFL and the Texans over an injury he suffered in 2014 at NRG Stadium, which he blamed on the conditions of the field. Ryans suffered a torn Achilles and effectively, his career was over. He wasn’t the same coming back from that injury, and he obviously got into coaching, where he’s done very well for himself.

But Ryans played on that field in Houston for a long time. He knew the ownership and how they operated, and he went forth with a lawsuit. Is it not a little surprising that he’s now employed by the team?

Well, the Texans are no longer owned by Bob McNair who passed away in 2018, but by his wife Janice. His son, Cal, is the team’s CEO. The Texans have come under some serious fire in recent years for a number of different reasons, not the least of which has been the blind eye they had seemingly turned to all of the things going on off the field with former quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Early on in this year’s head coaching cycle, it was actually reported or rumored that Ryans was turning down the chance to interview with the Texans, although we’ve obviously seen how dramatically that has changed.

Now, DeMeco Ryans will be tasked with reshaping the culture of this organization from essentially the ground up. He’s being given a six-year contract to set this team up the way he sees fit with the vision he presented in the interview process.

That opportunity didn’t exist for him in Denver, Arizona, or other places. The Texans are essentially a blank canvas. It’s an organization that DeMeco Ryans is undoubtedly proud to have played for, and one in which he likely sees the opportunity to make a lasting mark.  Perhaps some unfinished business left out there from his time as a player.

The Texans, as an organization, have really crumbled in recent years. From Bob McNair’s “inmates running the prison” comments, to the Deshaun Watson scandal and investigation, to Bill O’Brien trading DeAndre Hopkins and releasing JJ Watt, Ryans’ own lawsuit against the franchise…it’s been a tumultuous time for the Texans.

But now, the franchise can reset. With the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Texans can draft Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Will Levis, or whoever they determine is worthy of leading the franchise at quarterback. Heck, maybe Ryans can convince Jimmy Garoppolo to come to Houston and run the show for a year or two.

They also own the 12th pick in this year’s draft thanks to the Watson trade, and plenty of other picks besides. Free agents will be more drawn to Houston now than in years past thanks to the presence of Ryans in the head coach’s chair. Over the last two years, how were free agents supposed to know the longevity of David Culley or Lovie Smith?

Now, this team has a vision, at the very least. The Texans will need time, and DeMeco Ryans has been afforded that by ownership. Hopefully, he’s able to make other dramatic changes inside that organization that he wasn’t able to as a player.