My “blink” reaction is that they got it right. “They” are the Texans, and “it” is Tuesday’s hiring of DeMeco Ryans as the team’s fourth head coach in four seasons. Ryans reportedly has signed a six-year contract and will be formally introduced as Houston’s HC at a Wednesday news conference.
Dating back to his collegiate playing days at Alabama, Ryans has always stood out as a natural leader. In most cases, all I need to know about a guy is how his teammates felt about him, and Ryans was beloved both at Alabama and throughout his ten-year NFL playing career with the Texans and Eagles. And did you see the job he did this season as the ‘Niners’ defensive coordinator? This just feels right. Let’s just hope the Texans’ ownership and front office doesn’t mess it up. Houston will have every chance to get the Ryans Era off to a solid start, since the Texans have both the second and 12th overall picks in April’s draft.
Needs? Quarterback, obviously. But Ryans will also want to get busy fixing the Texans’ historically horrible run defense.
Ryans is a good fit in Houston, to say the least. But Sean Payton in Denver? I’m not sold. This much is apparent. The demand for Payton from around the league wasn’t as hot as he anticipated. Yes, the Broncos have pretty much unlimited resources. (Does the name Wal-Mart resonate financially?) Denver also has a defense that was ranked first in the NFL this season until it pretty much just said “screw this” because of the team’s offensive and coaching ineptitude. But Payton is an offensive coach whose undeniable success in New Orleans was keyed by his long and very successful relationship with his quarterback, Drew Brees. Payton and Russell Wilson? That’s an Odd Couple, to put it mildly. Color me skeptical.
The winner here may be the Saints, since they received a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-rounder from the Broncos in compensation for Payton, who was under contract in New Orleans through 2024.
How’s this for a “mixed message”? Panthers owner David Tepper says he is committed to breaking up the “old boys” network in the NFL that leads to white guys hiring white guys. OK. But this is the same David Tepper whose team just passed over Steve Wilks, who did a good—bordering on wonderful—job as the Panthers’ interim head coach after Matt Rhule was fired early in the season. Wilks is Black. Instead, Carolina hired the notably pale Frank Reich as their coach going forward. Don’t misunderstand. Reich is a helluva coach, and I’m delighted he found another head coaching gig after his ridiculous firing in Indy. He’s one of my faves. I’m merely pointing out the inconsistency between Tepper’s words and deeds. Sounds like he was just trying to fade the heat from fans and media.