It has been a woeful stretch for a team that finished last in the AFC South in 2022. However, things are looking up for the Houston Texans in numerous aspects.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Houston Texans will open the season with a new head coach. Bill O’Brien was still at the controls in 2020 but four games into that campaign, he was replaced by veteran coach Romeo Crennel. He led the club to only four wins in their final 12 contests.
In 2021, David Culley led the club to a 4-13 finish and a year later defensive coordinator Lovie Smith had been promoted to the top spot. Houston finished 3-13-1 and Smith was given the pink slip.
Enter former Texans’ Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who was the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator the past two seasons after Robert Saleh went on to become the head coach of the New York Jets. The Niners gave up the third-fewest yards in the league in 2021. This past season, San Francisco allowed the fewest total yards per contest in the NFL. The team also surrendered the fewest points per game in the league for the first time since 1984.
Lots of quality additions for the Houston Texans
General manager Nick Caserio and Ryans managed to bring in a lot of quality veterans, especially when it came to fixing a defensive unit that has been absolutely dreadful in recent seasons when it comes to stopping the run.
The list includes former 49ers in safety Jimmie Ward and defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway. Interior presence Sheldon Rankins (Jets) and linebackers Cory Littleton (Panthers) and Denzel Perryman (Raiders) were also quality pickups.
Of course, Caserio gave equal time to the offense. At the skill positions, 2022 rookie standout Dameon Pierce will pair with Devin Singletary (Bills) in the backfield. There are new targets in wide receiver Noah Brown and tight end Dalton Schultz, a pair of former Cowboys, and veteran pass-catcher Robert Woods (Titans). The Texans acquired standout guard Shaq Mason in a trade with the Buccaneers.
But wait, there’s more
On the first night of the draft, Caserio may have put the cherry on the sundae for both of these units. Houston had no problem using the second overall pick on Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. He turned around and obtained the third overall selection from the Arizona Cardinals and was able to grab standout pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama).
There is a long way between now and the start of the regular season. There is certainly room for optimism for a franchise that owns a dismal 11-38-1 combined record since 2020. Keep in mind that four teams that finished in last place in 2021 made the playoffs this past season.
Have the Houston Texans had the best offseason of any team in the league? It may be difficult to find another franchise that can claim that distinction in 2023.