C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson Jr., and DeMeco Ryans look to build the first championship roster in Texans history.
Incompetence Runs Wild With The Texans
The Houston Texans have suffered from several highly-publicized issues in recent years. The most infamous of the bunch was Deshaun Watson and his less-than-flattering exit from the franchise amid a slew of allegations lobbed against the star quarterback.
Next up is the disastrous DeAndre Hopkins trade that brought back a stale bag of chips and a half-drank Gatorade in return. They even alienated the best player in franchise history, J.J. Watt, enough to force him to finish his playing days elsewhere, rather than with the team that drafted him.
Then we have the front office, which was completely overhauled multiple times by Cal McNair, the day-to-day operations leader ever since the passing of team founder Bob McNair. Under Cal’s guidance, the Texans became one of the laughingstocks of the league.
Texans Draft C.J. Stroud And Will Anderson Jr.
Thankfully, most of these issues seem to be firmly in the rearview now. General manager Nick Caserio has been running the show recently. It was never more apparent than at the 2023 NFL Draft when Caserio positioned his squad to take arguably the best quarterback and defensive player in the entire class.
Serving as the two building blocks for each unit going forward, the decision to go all in on C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. will prove to be the best decision Caserio has ever made — along with hiring head coach DeMeco Ryans to his first lead gig in the NFL.
Nick Caserio Hires DeMeco Ryans, Bringing Credibility To The Franchise
The first-time head coach was also a franchise legend himself, as he earned All-Pro honors during the peak of his playing days in Houston. Bringing Ryans back home lends credibility to the coaching staff and gives fans a reason to buy into what the Texans are selling.
The former Niners defensive coordinator excels at getting the most out of his players. He is a brilliant defensive mind with invaluable on-field experience and the ability to effectively communicate with his players. To say Ryans is a player’s coach would be a bit misleading, as he has no problem putting his foot down when necessary.
The Defense Boasts Multiple Building Blocks
He gets a chance to build his entire defensive scheme around a prospect some deemed generational in the draft process. Will Anderson Jr. is unblockable one-on-one. The Alabama alum boasts an endless variety of pass-rushing moves when pursuing the quarterback. He is twitchy, bends well, and has deceptive strength in his somewhat lean frame.
Along with the addition of Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre, the trio serves as an impressive start to the unit. Stingley and Pitre roam the secondary with both serving different roles in the defense. The former LSU Tiger locks down his assignments at cornerback, while Pitre spends most of his time in the box as a safety.
Denzel Perryman, a 2021 Pro Bowler, was the biggest addition via free agency. He is not perfect as a linebacker, but Ryans will lean on him as the quarterback of the defense in 2023. Perryman’s best years are likely behind him; that doesn’t mean he can’t lead a young defense this season.
C.J. Stroud Will Have The Texans Playing Well On Offense
On offense, C.J. Stroud will take the reins from the opening week. The former Ohio State Buckeye was the second-ranked quarterback on my final big board, only checking in a few spots below No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young.
Stroud’s pinpoint accuracy and unparalleled leadership stood out during the NFL Combine. In interviews, he was poised and professional while letting everyone know how confident he is as a quarterback. On the field, Stroud hit nearly every pass he attempted during workouts.
Once Stroud unlocks more playmaking ability on off-schedule reps, he has the potential to become one of the five to ten best signal-callers in the NFL. He is a surgeon from the pocket and doesn’t shy away from the most important moments.
At his disposal, the weaponry is better than it looks on paper. Nico Collins is a legitimate threat on the boundary with his size and speed. Tank Dell can terrorize defenses for the slot with his explosiveness. Robert Woods and John Metchie III will take advantage of these field stretchers, along with free agent signing Dalton Schultz.
A Reliable Run Game And Offensive Line Goes A Long Way
The run game will once again be spearheaded by Dameon Pierce. After a strong rookie showing, the former Gator looks to build on his success in Year 2. A stacked offensive line can do much of the heavy lifting, as Laremy Tunsil’s crew stacks up with any unit in the NFL.
A defensive-minded head coach with a few superstar talents, in tandem with one of the best offensive lines and running games in the league, should make life relatively easy for C.J. Stroud in 2023. Don’t become fixated on the win column for the upcoming season. Texans fans should merely be looking for steady improvement from its young franchise cornerstones.
Houston is not close to winning a Super Bowl as of this writing, but they are a lot closer than they were before the 2023 NFL Draft. Stroud and Anderson Jr. are transformational talents. Similar to the Jets last season, I fully expect to see the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year trophies headed to the Texans.