The Houston Texans, led by rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, have surpassed expectations with a 7-5 record this season, a significant improvement from their 3-13-1 performance last year. As they gear up for a potentially favorable match against the New York Jets this Sunday, Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans is set for a reunion with Jets head coach Robert Saleh.
Ryans acknowledged Saleh’s instrumental role in his coaching journey, expressing gratitude for the support that helped him reach his current position. Ryans, a former standout NFL linebacker, spent a significant portion of his playing career with the Texans when they were still an emerging expansion franchise. Following his retirement, Ryans joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 as a defensive quality control coach under head coach Kyle Shanahan.
During Ryans’ tenure with the 49ers, Saleh served as the defensive coordinator, contributing to the team’s reputation as a hard-hitting defensive force. Together, Saleh, Ryans, and Shanahan played pivotal roles in guiding the Niners to the Super Bowl in the 2019 season. When Saleh departed after the 2020 campaign, Ryans stepped into the role of defensive coordinator and continued to elevate the team’s defensive prowess.
"I owe a lot to him. He's probably the reason why I'm standing here before you because of him taking me under his wing and teaching me the ropes."
Saleh coached Ryans as a player in Houston and helped hire… pic.twitter.com/rbMcw4RXZc
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 4, 2023
Despite Ryans’ current focus on coaching the Texans, who have notably improved defensively compared to the previous year, the remnants of the defensive identity established during his time with the 49ers remain evident. While the Texans may not be considered a defensive powerhouse this season, the marked improvement in this area has contributed to a more optimistic outlook for the team in Houston.