Feb 2, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans head coach Demeco Ryans following his introductory press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been like finding unexpected mailbox money.
The Texans have been sitting at home this offseason, binging on game tape, nibbling on chips, slippers on, ringer off. Minding their own business.
Yet almost daily, various levels of good news have been arriving at their front door come rain, shine, or gloom of the Texans’ recent plight.
Some news has been as small – but meaningful – as a crisp $5 bill from Grandma on your birthday. Some has been as shocking as that five-figure bonus check you thought was going to someone else.
And it’s all added up to the kind of suddenly strange wait-wut kind of plot twist usually reserved for Aaron Sorkin or Patrick Mahomes.
Neither NFL free agency nor the NFL Draft has even started, yet the Texans already – dare we say – have an easier path to go places they’ve never been. And they may get there quicker than anyone could have imagined, too.
Just a year ago, the Texans had about as miserable an existence as an NFL team could have. They were, to put it mildly, a laughingstock.
“Led” by their second powerless coach in as many years, the Texans had an XFL lineup, a mostly absentee CEO, and a WTF chaplain-conman calling shots behind the scenes.
All that nonsense was just one year ago, but you’d hardly know it with all the good things going on today. Of course, DeMeco Ryans has become a vibe. Draft picks are stocked up. Money is not a problem.
But these Texans aren’t just looking and behaving like an altogether different squad; they’re getting the breaks good teams get, too. Like solid organizations always do, the Texans have made most of their luck, but flat-out have fallen into some fortunate twists as well.
It’s all added up to the timeline to speed up significantly for when Texans fans can expect this club to contend in the division and beyond. 2024? Yeah, sure. Why not? You don’t have to squint to see happy days in the near future, especially in the division, considering the past week’s developments.
- The Titans, who had the No. 1 seed in the postseason just two seasons ago, have fallen into NFL purgatory. They’re too well-coached and talented in spots to completely tank, but not good enough to be a threat anymore.
- Texans-killer Derrick Henry reportedly is on the trade block, and things could get much worse before they get better.
- The Colts seem equally as squirrely on where the path will lead. On the one hand, there’s a new coach in town in Shane Steichen. His pedigree is strong, and a jolt of life could be on the way. But how much life can be infused into an underachieving, aging roster?
Especially with owner Jim Irsay’s itchy trigger finger and loose lips regarding trading into the No. 1 overall pick, no one would be surprised if Irsay overpaid and mortgaged the future.
- The Bears, who own the No. 1 pick, surely have more suitors for that pick after numerous impressive performances at the NFL Combine. While that may not be great for any hopes the Texans may have for Bryce Young, more suitors means a higher price to pay for other teams. Meanwhile, the Texans are sitting on a pile of some 23 draft picks over the next two years. And if one of those teams that trades with Chicago is in the Texans’ division, who knows how high the flaky Colts might bid, or even the window’s-closing Titans. Sure, they’d get the guy they hope becomes a franchise QB, but at a potentially crippling high cost.
- The Texans’ second pick in the first round got much more interesting. And valuable. Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson put on a show at the Combine. Top prospect Jalen Carter’s stock took a hit after he was implicated in a reckless driving incident that ended with two fatalities. The Texans’ No. 12 overall pick is in prime position to entice a team willing to roll the dice on one of those players. And who knows? If the Texans feel good about Carter’s legal situation and he falls that far, which some are predicting, they may roll the dice themselves on a prospect some rank as best in the draft.
- The Texans don’t have to worry about the proven Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr making things difficult in the AFC South. Carr signed with the Saints, and any intrigue Rodgers had in Nashville surely disappeared with news of Henry being on the trade block. Rodgers seems destined to head to the New York Jets.
- Even the Texans’ already-healthy salary cap situation improved this week with the release of veteran center Justin Britt. Add another $3 million in cap space to coffers, Nick Caserio.
A year ago, the run of good decisions and good breaks like the Texans are experiencing was unfathomable. Fast tracks were for other teams and other cities.
But here they are, feet propped up, just kickin’ it waiting on Draft Day, coming to the improbable realization before the draft or free agency even begins that they can, in fact, have nice things.
And it can happen sooner than anyone ever could have believed.