DeMeco Ryans is already the front-runner for NFL Coach of the Year. The rookie head coach and former Houston Texans mainstay as a player, Ryans returned to the franchise this offseason to take over the reins of the team. He replaced Lovie Smith as head coach, and instantly started getting the team into shape. We know what he's done with C.J. Stroud and the offense, which has been remarkable.
He's taken a team that largely stayed the same on offense, added three big new pieces in Stroud, TE Dalton Schultz, and RB Devin Singletary, and turned the offense into one of the most lethal in the game. It's not the best or among the best, as the offensive line needs work running the ball, and the running backs they have are limited, but all things considered, the offense is good.
Even the receivers look better.
But no, it's the work he's done on the defense that Ryans should be given more credit for. The defense isn't great, but it's a massive improvement over the unit from last season. The unit last year was apparently cursed last season, spending most games playing defense against NFL offenses the same way Swiss cheese would. With a lot of holes.
But this year, the team is better. They're stopping the run, getting turnovers and while their sacks are low, they are getting more pressure this year compared to last year. They still need some work and another offseason of draft picks and free agent signings to further bolster the unit, but all in all, they are a massive upgrade over what they were last season.
That's all on Ryans and his coaching. He's turned a team that could easily be 1-8 right now into a team that's over .500. Think about the Carolina Panthers. They too have a top quarterback draft pick, and they too are in the middle of a rebuild. But they're struggling to get wins and score touchdowns. Issues the Texans don't have.
What's the big key difference? Coaching. The Texans don't have a better team on paper, they just have better coaches that can get the most out of their players. If Ryans was in Carolina, the Panthers would likely be better than they are now, and the Texans would likely be worse than they are now. Why? Coaching matters.
It's why Ryans should be the Coach of the Year this season if his Texans make the playoffs at all. It's an impossible turnaround that can largely only be attributed to the head coach and his philosophies.