C.J. Stroud isn’t the most impressive rookie on the Houston Texans this season.

C.J. Stroud has competition
Apr 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Fromm left to right head coach DeMeco Ryans and CJ Stroud (left),
Apr 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Fromm left to right head coach DeMeco Ryans and CJ Stroud (left), / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans are 4-4, somehow, after one of the roughest seasons in recent memory. The 2022 campaign was bad, for a variety of reasons, yet, just one season later, the Texans are off and running as a realistic playoff contender. The team has a lot to do to get to the playoffs, but they’re on their way. And while rookie superstar C.J. Stroud has been at the focal point of a lot of that success offensively, he isn’t the most impressive rookie on the team.

No, the most impressive rookie the Texans have currently is the team’s leader and former Texans player, DeMeco Ryans. Ryans is in his first year of not only being the Houston Texans' head coach, but a head coach at all. He spent the last few seasons as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and was hired on to help stabilize a franchise that had run through head coaches in recent years.

His arrival in Houston was a reason to celebrate but Texans fans didn’t realize just how impressive he’d be for the team.

DeMeco Ryans is the tide that rose all of the Houston Texans' ships

Stroud deserves all the credit in the world for what he’s done in the offense. He’s maximized potential and minimized mistakes. He’s been every bit as good as you’d hope he’d be as a second-overall pick. He’s the front-runner for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and if the Texans make the playoffs, he should be in the MVP conversation.

But that’s just the offense. Ryans has a hand in the offense and is part of the reason for Stroud’s success. But that’s not all, as Ryans has also helped turn the Texans' defense into a formidable squad. The unit was 27th in points against last season, they’re 14th so far this season.

That’s incredible, especially considering how many starters and key players they lost from last year’s club. So credit to Ryan where it’s due because his scheme and ability to coach his players is a key reason for the Texans' success so far.

Especially when you realize that two of the best players on the Texans' defense, Henry To’oTo’o and Will Anderson are rookies from this past draft class. They’re huge contributors already, and it’s only about mid-way through the season.

With Ryans, Stroud, To’oTo’o, and Anderson, this may be the best rookie class in franchise history, but only one of those rookies, Ryans, can say he’s the best of the bunch. And that’s saying something considering the company he’s keeping.

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