Texans Hire Demeco Ryans As Head Coach

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 31, 2023

The Houston Texans have hired 49ers defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans as head coach. Ryans and the Texans agreed today to a six-year deal, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Texans will introduce Ryans as coach on Thursday. He’s the team’s fourth coach in four years. Bill O’ Brien was fired in 2020 after starting the season 0-4. Coaches David Culley (who went 4-13) and Lovie Smith (3-13-1) each lasted just one season. (Smith was fired on Jan. 8.) Ryans got the job just three weeks later. According to ESPN, Ryans’ hiring makes the Texans the first team in NFL history to hire three consecutive Black head coaches.

“For so many reasons, DeMeco is everything we are looking for in a leader and coach for our organization,” Texans owner Cal McNair said in a statement. “He has a proven track record for developing high-quality players and constantly innovated his defensive scheme over the last six seasons in San Francisco. We started this process with the goal of finding someone our fans and city can be proud of and we’ve done just that.”


Before he started coaching, Demeco Ryans had a decade-long career in the NFL. The Houston Texans drafted Ryans out of Alabama in 2006; he played for Houston from 2006 to 2012.

In his first season, Ryans racked up 126 solo tackles, the second most for a rookie in NFL history. Ryans finished the season with 156 tackles (the most for any rookie in two decades) and also had 3½ sacks.

EAST RUTHERFORD,NJ – NOVEMBER 5: Tiki Barber #21 of the New York Giants carries the ball as he is grabbed by DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans on November 5, 2006 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by: Al Bello/Getty Images)

Defensive ROTY

Subsequently, Ryans was voted NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year on Jan. 3, 2007. (He got 36 out of 50 votes, according to the Houston Chronicle.) After adding another 128 total tackles during the 2007 season, he earned his first Pro Bowl selection in December.

CLEVELAND – NOVEMBER 25: Jamal Lewis #31 of the Cleveland Browns tries to avoid the tackle of Demeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans during a second quarter run on November 25, 2007 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 27-17. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Ryans even returned a fumble for a touchdown in a game against the Tennessee Titans:

HOUSTON – OCTOBER 21: DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans returns a fumble for a touchdown after sacking quarterback Kerry Collins #5 of the Tennessee Titans during the first half of the game at Reliant Stadium October 21, 2007 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

In 2008, Ryans received All-Pro honors. (All-Pro honors designate the best player at each position in football during a given year. The Associated Press has been compiling the honors since the 1940s, according to the Detroit Lions.) In 2009, Ryans collected 100 total tackles for the fourth straight season. But in Week 6 of the 2010 season, Ryans ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his season.

He returned the next year. Ryans rebounded with six tackles in the Texans’ home opener on Sept. 11, 2011. That season, he started all 16 games. And the Texans added two powerhouse players that joined Ryans on defense: linebacker Brian Cushing and defensive end J.J. Watt. Together they helped form one of the NFL’s most feared defenses.

HOUSTON – NOVEMBER 06: Linebacker Brian Cushing #56 talks with DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans as J.J. Watt #99 and Tim Jamison #96 stand by at Reliant Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 30-12. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

From Playoffs to Pennsylvania

That year, the Texans went 12-4 and made the playoffs. They beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round on Jan. 7, 2012. For the first time in his career, Ryans did not start a game. But the Texans defense still shined, propelling the team to its first postseason victory.

“Rookie J.J. Watt’s leaping interception return for a touchdown late in the first half propelled the Texans in Saturday’s AFC wild-card game,” CBS News said at the time. “Third-string quarterback T.J. Yates, another first-year play pressed into action, then threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson and Arian Foster followed with his second touchdown of the game, a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter, to finish off the Bengals.”

It was the Texans’ first playoff win.

HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 07: (L-R) J.J. Watt #99 oand DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans celebrate their 31-10 win against the Cincinnati Bengals during their 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

This story will be updated.

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