HAIR ON FIRE
Here are the players Houston Texans are counting on to be disruptors on defense
The Houston Texans are all in on the future. That includes on offense, defense and everything else in between under head coach DeMeco Ryans.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. Whatever happened here, doesn’t matter,” Ryans told reporters on Tuesday. “We are starting brand new right now, and we will create our own path. We will set our own path. That is what it will be about. It will be about the 2023 Texans.”
When it comes to the Texans’ defense, which is the calling card for Houston’s new head coach, there is a brand-new sense of enthusiasm revolving around the unit.
“A lot of familiar faces but I would just say new energy,” said second-year safety Jalen Pitre when asked about the difference in the defense this year. “There [are] a couple new faces and obviously we have a new coach and defensive staff, so I would just say new energy.”
Since taking the reins of the Texans, Ryans has reiterated his vision for the characteristics he is looking for in players on the team. Ryans repeated that message this week when he focused on a specific position group.
“[For the] defensive line we want guys who are explosive, guys who are physical, guys who can set the edge, guys who can get after the quarterback,” Ryans said. “That is what we are looking for.”
Ryans was also asked about a potential reunion with the 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. The defensive lineman was drafted by the Texans and later traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2019. Clowney recently appeared to open the door at a potential reunion.
Clowney played just one season with the Seahawks before spending another season in Tennessee with the Titans and has spent the previous two with the Cleveland Browns. He had nine sacks in 14 games for the Browns in 2021. The former South Carolina Gamecock played in 12 games for Cleveland last season and only had two sacks.
Ryans left the door open on Tuesday, but he was as vague as a head coach tends to be when asked directly about Clowney.
“We will always look at any players that can help us win, so we will explore all options,” Ryans said.
Clowney is definitely a defensive lineman that can set an edge, be physical and chase after the quarterback. He would also add more depth and competition among the group for Houston, but only time will tell if Ryans and general manager Nick Caserio choose to bring him back.
For now, Houston is excited about its current core of players. Ryans said Pitre and 2022 No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr. fit any defense because they are both playmakers and instinctive.
“They like to play with their hair on fire,” Ryans said.
That was the phrase of the day on Tuesday. Pitre used the same words to describe both safety Jimmie Ward and 2023 No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson Jr. when asked about them.
With voluntary organized team activities in full swing, the Texans are looking to flip the page on the past few seasons and write a new chapter in the franchise’s 21-year history.
“It feels like it is fresh air, just a great time to be in Houston,” Pitre said. “You know we are trying to bring that feeling back and trying to just continue to stack days and get better. We are not really trying to look forward to anything but we are trying to take it one day at a time and continue to improve on a day-to-day basis.”