DeMeco Ryans is experiencing a successful first season as an NFL Head Coach. He's led the Houston Texans to a positive record (4-4) halfway through the new campaign. Roadblocks have not hindered the rookie's ability to persevere in difficult times. He's relied on his players and football knowledge to rise to the occasion.
The hunt for a post-season ticket will force the Texans to play their best. Derek Stingley Jr. will play a vital role when he returns to the field.
Matt Burke's defense deserves credit for the Texans' success
A defensive philosophy helped DeMeco Ryans secure his first Head Coaching job. His tenure with the San Francisco 49ers helped the former inside linebacker develop a respected reputation. Ryans' unit forced turnovers and kept offenses out of the endzone. It helped Kyle Shanahan's team reach the NFC Conference Championship for consecutive years.
Innovations to the scheme are helping Bobby Slowik's group succeed. They are performing above expectations heading into Week 10. In 2022, Houston finished the season at the bottom of the league in defensive grading (51). They've improved significantly (67.9) with plenty of games remaining on the schedule.
Stellar performances from defensive backs are helping the Texans stay above water this season. Steven Nelson (76.9), Tavierre Thomas (80.6), and Grayland Arnold (77) are leading Houston's secondary in coverage grading. Their contributions rank the Texans eighth in coverage (81.9) at the midway point.
Derek Stingley Jr. will improve the Houston Texans' Secondary
Assistance from a former first-round pick will help Burke's unit finish the campaign strong. Derek Stingley Jr. returned to practice this week and expects to become a vital part of the roster soon. He injured his hamstring before Houston's Week 2 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stingley Jr. was targeted four times this season and has allowed two receptions.
It will take time for Houston's second-year corner to adjust after his injury. He'll slowly earn more reps as the season progresses. An additional ball-hawk in the secondary will improve the Texans' chances of clinching a playoff berth. Four of their next six opponents rank within the top 20 in pass grading. Protecting the endzone and limiting big plays will result in more wins.
Stingley Jr's return to practice does not mean he will play against the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend. DeMeco Ryans and his staff have 21 days to decide if he is placed on IR or will join the 53-man roster. Assistance from a lock-down corner will give the Texans an advantage during a crucial part of the season. They need Derek Stingley Jr to return healthy for a successful playoff run.
All statistics courtesy of pff.com