In a league-wide cycle of NFL teams targeting offensive head coaches, the Houston Texans have chosen to blaze their own path. It is somewhat curious that the Texans will be moving on from one defensive-minded head coach in Lovie Smith to another in DeMeco Ryans, but that’s where the similarities begin to diverge. Lovie Smith was an old-school laid-back coach like his mentor Tony Dungy. DeMeco Ryans is a young up-and-coming former Texans playmaker. He will be the third African American Head Coach in a row for the Texans, but his youth will interject some much-needed excitement and juice into a flagging team.
Much of this article will focus on the potential that his first major hire brings. Ryans chose to bring along another fellow San Francisco staff member, pass game coordinator Bobby Slowik as his new Offensive Coordinator. Slowik and Ryans have spent the last six years together on the San Francisco staff, initially being brought on as defensive assistants. Slowik transitioned back to the offensive side of the ball after the first year, but the relationship has grown over the years. Without further delay, let us dive into the Texans roster and potential upcoming changes under the new leadership of DeMeco Ryans and Bobby Slowick.
Bobby Slowik has been named Offensive Coordinator for the Texans. pic.twitter.com/Tl6iPgPUjl— Patrick Storm (@PatrickStormHTX) February 12, 2023
The 2023 Houston Texans are a team in total flux. Nowhere is that more evident than in the quarterback position. As things currently sit, the Houston Texans only have one quarterback on the entire team, Davis Mills. Lovie Smith gave the former third-round pick a chance to nail down the starting job last season. Despite this, he was unable to show himself capable enough. You can see his numbers below.
While these numbers certainly lack some real pop, they should be good enough to keep Mills around for the balance of his rookie contract as the team’s backup. Ironically enough, the last win of his career will have a huge impact on his eventual replacement. By winning the final game of the 2022 season, the Texans dropped from the #1 pick to the #2 pick in the draft. This means they will likely have to trade up with the Bears to land their choice of quarterbacks. They could also stay put and gamble on the next best choice.
In all likelihood, the long-term starting quarterback in Houston will be one of Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, or Anthony Richardson. Whomever it is, the task of grooming the next Texans signal caller will fall to Bobby Slowik. This seems like a promising situation for the players themselves. The new Texans offensive coordinator had a large hand in helping Brock Purdy go undefeated as a starter after the loss of both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. Purdy went from Mr. Irrelevant as the last player in the draft to the precipice of the Super Bowl.
One of the best players on the offensive roster the new Texans regime inherits will be second-year running back Dameon Pierce. The fourth-round pick out of the University of Florida was one of the lone bright spots for the Texan’s offense throughout the season. He led all rookie rushers in yards until injuries and overall team inefficiency caught up to him. Despite his late-season slowdown, he put up impressive rookie numbers nonetheless.
Pierce’s violent running style helps him churn out yards after contact and keep his offense on a positive game script. His talent shines through the Texan’s offensive deficiency, leaving you wondering what he could do with a little more help. You can see a perfect example of his heart and running style below.
This carry by Dameon Pierce https://t.co/B2MllIppnF pic.twitter.com/VjmDrxQvNL— big ounce (@_bigounce) February 6, 2023
While he will never be confused with San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey, Pierce displayed a soft set of hands for a big man. He came out of his rookie season with 30 catches, more than any season he had in college. Coaches picked up on this with Pierce at the 2022 Senior Bowl.
Quite the hands catch by Florida RB Dameon Pierce. Especially in the rain. pic.twitter.com/VpCzpCJwxC— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 3, 2022
Dameon Pierce is one of the biggest gambles in dynasty football heading into the 2023 off-season. He enjoyed an excellent rookie year while putting up fantastic tape in the running and passing game. Despite all of this, we don’t know how his incoming coaching staff likes him as a fit for their new scheme. The uncertainty is affecting his trade market. When scanning our Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser on the DynastyGM, here are the most recent trades to involve Pierce.
If you are a true believer in Dameon Pierce, now may be the perfect time to pounce on him. The Texans will almost certainly add players to the backfield, as Pierce is one of the only running backs under contract. The question is, how much value the Texans commit to his new teammates, or more precisely, how highly they will be drafted. Only time will tell this answer. If you guess correctly, you could come away with a very nice value trade for a young talented runner who could help your dynasty squad for the next 2-3 years.
The wide receiver position in Houston is a mixed bag for the incoming staff. Brandin Cooks is an established veteran who seems destined to play elsewhere in 2023. His departure would leave a group of unproven youngsters, two of which are worth highlighting in this article. They are Nico Collins and John Metchie.
Nico Collins has been a favorite of some of us in the dynasty community since coming out of Michigan two years ago. If you were to design a prototypical NFL receiver, he would come out looking something like the former Wolverine. You can see his athletic profile below.
Despite having the body of an adonis and the athleticism coaches dream about, Collins has struggled with injuries and consistency at the NFL level. However, he provides a big-bodied target that the next Texans quarterback will surely appreciate. Any time players can make plays like the one you see below, signal callers and coaches alike will take notice.
Nico Collins also with the catch of the night pic.twitter.com/hGThSINvkR— NFL Beat Writers (@32BeatWriters) August 20, 2022
I believe that Collins still possesses a healthy amount of untapped potential. Savvy dynasty owners can do worse than stashing Nico on the end of their benches. Searching the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser, you can find Nico Collins going for as little as a late-round pick or as simply a throw-in.
The second part of the Texans receiving equation will be second-year player John Metchie III. The sophomore out of Alabama has endured a difficult start to his NFL career. The former Crimson Tide star came into the NFL after suffering a torn ACL in the SEC Championship game. This meant he would likely miss most of his rookie season due to rehab. However, this was only a piece of the puzzle, as Metchie was also diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.
By all accounts, Metchie has done fantastic in his rehab and cancer treatments alike. The new Houston coaching staff will be tasked with attempting to unlock Metchie’s potential. Before his injury in college, he was considered a top-level prospect. While not a blazer by any means, he has the potential to be a top-end possession receiver in the league. Think of a Jarvis Landry type of player.
Looking through the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser, John Metchie has lost a little of his rookie draft value. Last year he routinely went at the end of the second round, with owners realizing they would have to sit on him for a bit. Despite this investment in patience, I now see him going for as little as a third-round pick. At that price, I am scooping him up everywhere I can.
Former Packers draft pick Amari Rodgers as the only other receiver on the depth chart. The Texans will surely be adding to the mix this offseason. With the implementation of a Shanahan scheme, the Texans offense is surely one you would like to have a part of.
With DeMeco Ryans bringing in a version of the Shanahan/Kubiak scheme under the guise of new offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, the tight end position stands to keep a significant role in the passing attack. At first, I assumed that the position would get a bump in targets with the new system. However, after researching the numbers, the Texans were actually 6th in the entire NFL when it came to targeting the tight end position. Last season under Pep Hamilton, the Texans targeted their tight ends 131 times. San Francisco finished much further down the list at only 98 targets.
With Jordan Akins and Brevin Jordan as the top returning targets. I expect the new Texans’ staff to place their stamp on the position. They will likely be bringing in their own player. However, if you believe in either of the players currently on the roster, both can be had for virtually free. When searching the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser, Akins and Jordan are both being traded for late-round picks or, more often, are throw in players on bigger deals.
There is a lot of uncertainty about the 2023 Houston Texans. This will be the third offseason in a row where the team and franchise must adjust to a new head voice at the top. However, unlike the last two candidates, DeMeco Ryans brings an air of freshness and excitement to Houston. The Texans were forced to pay for the spending and overreach of the Bill O’Brien era. Now they stand on the precipice of a young first-time coach, a rookie quarterback, and a first-time offensive coordinator. Thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade, the Texans also have one of the bigger draft war chests in the league. Keep an eye on how they progress this season. Things are looking bright in Houston for the first time in a long time.
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