How Houston Texans new identity will revolve around this key element
The Houston Texans are in the early stages of what they hope is the season that kicks off a new era in the franchise’s history.
They signed new head coach DeMeco Ryans in January, drafted a new quarterback in C.J. Stroud, and they also got the defensive anchor in Will Anderson Jr.
Heading into the summer, this year could be the launch pad season to what the team’s identity becomes for years to come. In order for that to happen, however, one of Houston’s newest veterans said it is important for the Texans to create their own, unique brand.
“We got to find our own culture, you know what I’m saying? We got to create our own identity. We’re not San Fran. We are Houston, so that is who we are going to be,” said Jimmie Ward, the defensive back that signed with the Texans on a two-year deal in free agency.
Ward, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL, has seen the 49ers go through everything from being a middle of the pack 8-8 team to one of the worst in the league to competing in multiple NFC Championship games.
For him, the Texans have solid building blocks to create their own identity, similar to what San Francisco did over the course of the past five seasons. For Houston, a key piece to the puzzle in a new identity will revolve around the defense.
With Ryans and the defensive scheme they will try to run, Houston is going to need to have its defensive line be disruptive, Ward said. Adding Anderson is an important start to what the Texans will try to do under Ryans.
When it comes to Houston’s secondary, Ward believes the team has a lot of talent that can flourish under Ryans’ scheme. The key for players like safety Jalen Pitre and cornerback Derek Stingley will be patience.
One of Ward’s roles this upcoming season will be to help bring them along.
“I have been through a lot going on my 10th year in this league,” Ward said.
A key message Ward said he will aim to pass along to the younger defensive backs in the group will be the importance of taking care of their bodies.
When it comes to on the field, Ward is excited to see what Pitre and Stingley do in their second years in the league. Ward believes he and Pitre could cause a lot of havoc on opposing offenses because they are both interchangeable when it comes to being able to play nickel.
The versatility will give the Texans the ability to disguise their coverages better, he said. As for Stingley, Ward believes he is on track to be great because of the skill set he brings to the table when it comes to his speed and size.
The coach that is going to be in charge of making sure all the pieces fit together will be Ryans, and Ward is confident he can figure it out. Watching Ryans grow from a linebackers coach to defensive coordinator with the 49ers, the biggest intangible he had was adaptability, Ward said.
If something is not working, Ryans is not afraid to throw it out and try something new that will put his players in a position to exceed, Ward said.
For Houston, having a player-oriented coach is a breath of fresh air in and of itself. Only time will tell if the Texans can indeed establish their own unique identity under Ryans.