The future of the Houston Texans remains up in the air as general manager Nick Caserio searches for a new head coach and offensive coordinator. But in this search forward, it might be wise for the Texans to look to their past.
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was a second-round draft pick by the Texans back in 2006. The linebacker was subsequently named Rookie of the Year, was named to two Pro Bowls, and was a first-team All-Pro in 2007. Ryan’s was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 before retiring after the 2015 season.
Ryans moved into coaching in 2017 as a defensive quality control coach with the 49ers. This was followed by a promotion to inside linebackers coach from 2018 to 2020, after which he was promoted to coordinator, replacing Robert Saleh, who has just finished his first year as a head coach with the New York Jets.
In his first year as a coordinator for the 10-7 Niners, his defense finished third in total yardage allowed, sixth in passing yards, and seventh in rushing yards, even though only three players started all 17 games. Ryans also helped defensive end Nick Bosa reach his second Pro Bowl.
In a league where every team is trying to find a promising young coach to bring in new ideas and a fresh mind - what better than for Houston to do so in the shape of one of their former players?
And while this was true enough two weeks ago, Ryans has now helped engineer back-to-back playoff upsets, holding down the NFL's No. 1 offense last week at the Dallas Cowboys, and on Sunday going on the road again to help the Niners top Aaron Rodgers' No. 1-seed Packers, 10-7.
What more, exactly, does Ryans have to do?
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We say this while recognizing that Caserio's head-coach search seems to be about a preference of plucking names from the Patriots tree - namely Brian Flores. Or about working with guys who have friendships in the front office - namely Josh McCown.
No problem there; the boss gets to hire who the boss wants. But a complete search should be complete.
Meanwhile, if retrieving one 49ers coach isn’t enough, why not two? Niners receivers coach Wes Welker started his coaching career in Houston as an offensive assistant and special-teams aide under Bill O’Brien for two seasons before moving to the 49ers.
Since then the former All-Pro has worked his magic on Deebo Samuel, who himself was named to his maiden All-Pro team this year.
Welker was someone wide receivers drifted toward during his time in Houston, trying to soak up as much information from the former New England Patriot - yes, Welker fits the "Patriots South'' mold - as they could. Again a young coach rising through the ranks, Welker would be able to bring a wealth of experience having played alongside the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to perhaps refresh this often stale Texans offense.
Nothing wrong with "Patriots South.'' But during a search? Nothing wrong with "the best of the Texans,'' either.