Why latest revelation about Houston Texans defense is a good thing

DeMeco is in full control. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

2023 is shaping up to be the start of a wonderful thing here in Houston sports. The Astros are still rolling. Their dynasty isn't over as some outside the city would hope. The Rockets have a new no-nonsense coach who's poised to take this young franchise to the next level. However, football is king here. What the Texans are building has great potential. Head coach DeMeco Ryans was brought back home to help finish facilitating the turnaround of a once promising franchise that took an unexpected nosedive due to some sketchy circumstances.

As a former linebacker as a player, his transition to defensive coach, then coordinator, and now head coach isn't surprising to those that have followed him. Former coaches, teammates, and others who know DeMeco have long said this is where he would end up. Getting his first head coaching gig with the team who drafted him is a full circle moment. He has the defensive acumen and coaching chops to turn guys once cast aside into All Pros. Fred Warner was a former third round pick that turned into an All Pro and credited DeMeco with that turnaround and got emotional talking about his departure from the 49ers as his defensive coordinator.

When DeMeco answered the question that he will be calling the defense this year, I think a collective sigh of relief was heard. Fans were the main ones wondering. Some media folks have speculated as well. While Matt Burke has a good track record of coaching in the league consistently since 2004, him calling plays seems as if it made people nervous. The announcement doesn't mean Burke isn't trustworthy, or qualified. It also doesn't mean this is how things will stay. But this is how things will start and I'm here for it.

DeMeco will start calling plays in order to establish what he wants to see from the defense. My assumption is that when/if Burke gets accustomed to how DeMeco wants things done, the reins will be turned over to him so DeMeco can concentrate his focus elsewhere. Offensive coaches are notorious for calling their own plays. Some defensive coaches do as well. Helping establish his team's identity in his first year as a head coach is brilliant. Especially on the side of the ball where he made his name.

This is something that could have ripple effects moving forward. I can imagine him being more heavily involved on both sides of the ball once things get rolling. His focus will shift from defensive heavy, to more of an all around look. DeMeco seems like the type of guy who's hired coaches he wants that'll help develop players, establish his type of culture, and will ensure their guys compete hard every week. This is also why I knew he'd hire a 49ers staffer to run the offense. He's seen what that offense can do. He knows how well his defense works with that offensive scheme. Pressure, tempo, and conditioning are factors that both sides of the ball need to share philosophy on. If the offense is more uptempo, the defense needs to be better conditioned, and vice versa. If your offense slows the game down, your defense can play more wild and free since they won't be on the field as much.

See how these things go hand in hand? With a rookie quarterback, young pieces around him, and a first time offensive coordinator, it makes sense that he wants to take the reins of the defense. It'll help offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, CJ Stroud, and the offense. Bobby and DeMeco worked together in San Francisco and have familiarity. Burke was with the Cardinals and Jets the past couple seasons. He's game planned against them one season and worked under their former defensive coordinator another season. This is why they may not be as intimately familiar with each other's styles. Matching styles on both sides of the ball matters. Over time, everyone will be familiar with one another. Whether DeMeco continues to call plays, or Burke takes over, I think the biggest thing fans should look at is how they develop players. Who calls plays means nothing if you don't have the talent to execute them. (Side eye to the GM because he needs to continue to acquire talent.)

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After another poor performance from former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns' season is starting to look like an uphill climb. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb is out for the year, and Cleveland fans aren't too pleased with the way Watson is playing, especially considering the massive contract extension he signed with the team. And we didn't even get to the off the field drama that comes with Watson.

However, Houston fans are invested in the Browns' season outcome as well, with the Texans holding the Browns' first round pick in 2024, and having sent their own first rounder to the Cardinals in the Will Anderson trade.

So each loss for the Browns, means a better draft pick for the Texans!

For Houston, it looks like they have their QB of the future in CJ Stroud. And he'll be on a less expensive rookie contract for the next several years, giving the Texans more cap space to upgrade the roster.

With all of this in mind, is it fair to question if the Texans dodged a bullet when Watson demanded a trade?

DeMeco Ryans vs. Lovie Smith

Plus, we're only two games into the season, but Lovie Smith's defense was much better (with a similar roster) than what DeMeco Ryans' defense has shown thus far, and DeMeco has the benefit of Will Anderson rushing the QB.

Are the struggles on defense more about the roster GM Nick Caserio has put together, or does this slow start fall on DeMeco?

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

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