Will the Houston Texans deserve praise for improvements without a playoff berth?

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

A Week 18 matchup against a division rival will force DeMeco Ryans' unit to play their best football. Playoff implications are on the line in the final game of the campaign. It’s a bittersweet moment for Nick Cassio and his front office. A loss will eliminate the Houston Texans from the post-season hunt, but they cannot ignore the growth their franchise has experienced.

The days of hiding paraphernalia are long gone for devoted fans. An impressive campaign helped supporters earn bragging rights and reestablished faith in the hearts of worried spectators. In 2022, the Texans received the worst record (3-13-1) in the AFC. The franchise lacked an identity, and it reflected on the gridiron. Houston ranked 31st in defense (51.0) and last in offensive grading (62.8). Their weaknesses hindered them, resulting in a miserable regular season.

A yearning to change the culture prompted the Texans to hire new leadership. DeMeco Ryans became the Head Coach after an impressive stint as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator. He was resilient, disciplined, and passionate about his job. Caserio and his staff hoped the rookie Head Coach would feel the same about surging a desolate franchise. An impressive off-season helped Ryans begin his tenure in the right direction. He acquired C.J. Stroud (2) and Will Anderson Jr. (3) in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’ve had intricate roles and are pillars in a developing foundation.

Houston Texans desrve recongition even if they do not clicnh the playoff

Significant improvements turned Houston from a pretender to a contender in less than a year. They’ve followed the lead of their rookie quarterback, and he has not let them down. This season, Stroud ranks ninth in passing yards (3,845) and 13th in touchdown passes (21). He adds another dimension to Bobby Slowik’s offense and gives the team a confidence boost when on the field. His contributions led to a remarkable turnaround for Houston’s production. They are 14th in offensive grading heading into Week 18 - 18 spots higher than last campaign.

Houston's new defensive demeanor is hard to ignore. The Texans are an accomplished group with impressive wins under their belt. Victories against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals showed glimpses of their defensive prowess. Will Anderson Jr (83) and Blake Cashman (86.9) lead the group in defensive rating and lead rapid change.

The Houston Texans have a lot to celebrate this season. They’ve accomplished many achievements and are heading in the right direction. Fans expect the Texans to handle business to earn a chance at a playoff berth. They must earn a win Sunday against the Indianplois Colts to secure the last spot in the AFC playoff brakcet. A victory is possible, but if the unexpected occurs we should still take time to recognize the achievements of the regular season.

All statistics coutesy off pff.com