49ers DC DeMeco Ryans rejects Denver, watches Houston Texans performance

Image for article titled Should any coach, let alone a black candidate like DeMeco Ryans, want the Houston Texans' HC job? [Updated]

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On Tuesday, the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans visited with his former team, the Houston Texans, to discuss their head coaching vacancy. According to NFL insiders, Ryans is expected to be hired by the Texans, making him their third coach in three years.

Updated: January 31, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.: The Houston Texans hired Ryans.

Ryans is not alone their third head coach in as many seasons, but Houston became the first franchise to hire three Black head coaches repeatedly. It is historical for many reasons — though not all good.

Another part of DeMeco Ryans journey to becoming a head coach that will likely be glossed over is that he has reportedly moved on to the Denver Broncos. Woody Paige from Denver Gazette and ESPN’s Around The Horn announced on Twitter Monday that Ryans had withdrawn his name from the Broncos’ coaching search, telling the organization he was not interested.

That statement is interesting because the Broncos have a defense ready for Ryans. Knowing the situation and the team in favor of which Ryans rejected Denver, the question has to be asked. Has it gotten that bad in Bronco country yet Russell Wilson? Paige didn’t specify why Ryans turned down Denver, but after two prominent offensive line coaches — Sean Payton and Jim Harbaugh — interviewed but didn’t come away with a deal, the Broncos’ brand appears to be tarnished.

Updated: January 31, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.: The Broncos have finalized compensation for Sean Payton, clearing the way for the former Saints HC to sign with them.

The Broncos appear to have made another overture to Ryans before hiring Sean Payton.

Houston, I’m home

If Payton and Harbaugh passed on the future Hall of Fame quarterback (even after a year off), maybe Ryans saw the writing on the wall and decided it would be best if he came home to Houston. The former Pro Bowler was a star in Houston for six of his 10 years in the NFL. He is still the franchise’s all-time leader in tackles. So we can understand the nostalgic aura of Ryans coaching, where he experienced the most success on the field.

Houston hasn’t exactly had the most patience with coaches lately. Two, the past two seasons. Both had just been black coaches. One (Lovie Smith) has a long history in the NFL and even led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl appearance. But Smith wasn’t allowed to build this team like David Culley wasn’t the year before.

The fact that any black coach that would consider the Texans a viable option is astounding. But that’s where the situation in the NFL has gone with black head coaches. Often the only options are the worst situations in the league. This one is a little different because the Broncos were a much better organization than the Texans, with a history of winning (albeit under different ownership) and an established culture. Despite the new ownership and Wilson’s struggles, a move from Denver to Houston seems odd. Especially for a black coach after both of his predecessors were shown the door after just one season. Although it could be the familiarity of the Texas franchise and the culture around Houston. Either way, it seems odd.

Things could be different for Ryans leading his old team. Former Texans coach Wade Phillips believes so and raved about the prospect of Ryans taking the Houston job. It is possible because he played for the team and had his best years in Houston, where he still has many connections. That doesn’t change the fact that black head coaches, more often than not, are being flogged by these NFL franchises. No team has been more guilty of this lately than the Texans. After the way things ended with the last two coaches, it’s hard to imagine them luring another African-American coach to lead this team. But here we are.

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