The Houston Texans had an extremely successful 2023 campaign.
They cruised to a 10-7 record under new head coach DeMeco Ryans and captured several accolades along the way. They won the AFC South and won a playoff game for the first time since the 2019 season. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud won PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, rookie edge rusher Will Anderson won PFWA’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, and even Ryans took home hardware with PFWA’s Coach of the Year.
With a revamped team effort that led to dramatic improvements compared to both the 2021 and 2022 Texans, it’s worth examining who created that impact this past season and what their future projects moving forward.
Bobby Slowik came to Houston as a relatively unknown commodity in 2023 to serve as offensive coordinator for new head coach DeMeco Ryans.
Slowik had spent the previous six years with Ryans in San Francisco under head coach Kyle Shanahan. He worked his way up from defensive quality control coach to offensive assistant and finally the passing game coordinator. Prior to the 49ers, Slowik had a stint with Washington alongside Sean McVay and Shanahan with a brief job at Pro Football Focus in between.
He was expected to bring with him an offense popularized by Shanahan that had terrorized the league in San Francisco, Green Bay and Minnesota. The under-center, west-coast elements with an emphasis on the run game would be important for protecting whatever quarterback the Texans selected in the 2023 NFL draft.
Once Houston chose Ohio State product C.J. Stroud, Slowik was at the forefront of organizing an offense and calling plays to work towards his strengths.
Houston exploded offensively in 2023 after two consecutive years of ineptitude. It was the type of performance that led Slowik to nominations for the AP Assistant Coach of the Year award.
The team finished fifth in the NFL in passing yards with 4,578 and 14th in scoring at 22.2 points per game. Houston finished just 23rd in rushing the ball, but it was more than enough to compliment their explosive vertical passing game.
Houston went out of their way to protect C.J. Stroud and sell the threat of the run yesterday.
Beyond the 24 carries, they ran 49.1% of their plays from under center (38.9% was the season average)
Strong gameplan from Bobby Slowik considering the multiple injuries #WeAreTexans
— John Crumpler (@JohnHCrumpler) January 7, 2024
Notably, it was the individual performances under Slowik that caught a great deal of national attention.
Stroud turned in one of the greatest rookie quarterback seasons of all time while leading the league in passing yards per game. Third-year receiver Nico Collins had 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns on 80 receptions. Rookie wideout Tank Dell made an immediate impact and was on pace for over 1,000 yards before fracturing his ankle.
The offensive line, despite multiple injuries, was never a huge negative for the Texans. The scheme found creative ways to protect Stroud and maximize time for receivers to find space. With multiple injuries to projected starters it could have been disastrous from a protection standpoint, instead they weathered the storm generally unscathed.
If there was any criticism for Slowik, it was the running game. The team was extremely committed to the run game and first down runs throughout the year despite struggles run blocking and running back Dameon Pierce experiencing a severe sophomore slump. Eventually, Devin Singletary did turn in a great campaign with 898 yards and 4.2 yards per carry.
C.J. Stroud on @PatMcAfeeShow says that he had more responsibilities in his college offense at Ohio State than the current scheme under Bobby Slowik in response to a question about the S2 test.
Major testament to how the offensive staff positioned him to succeed #WeAreTexans
— John Crumpler (@JohnHCrumpler) January 8, 2024
Slowik didn’t lead the league’s best offense but he still managed to create a fabulous one from a group of players that many around the league were concerned about entering 2023. Stroud’s early success and the overall vision for enabling him aren’t possible without the young star coordinator.
Slowik was a highly sought after head coaching candidate in the 2024 cycle. He interviewed with the Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans during the process.
Eventually, Slowik took an incentivized new contract with the Texans to serve as offensive coordinator for one more season with Ryans and Stroud. He’ll be a key component for a team that will certainly have Super Bowl aspirations.
Texans OC Bobby Slowik has agreed to a new deal in Houston within the past few days, one that includes a significant raise, per sources. Slowik impressed multiple NFL clubs thru the interview process.
But he's sticking in Houston. He'll be a hot name in 2025.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 30, 2024
His priority this offseason will be figuring out what weapons Stroud might need to continue his rise towards the top of the league’s quarterbacks and how to fix a dreadful run game. If Slowik can unlock a more balanced offense in 2024, he’s almost guaranteed his choice of any head coaching job the following season.
It’s a huge victory for the team they retained Slowik for another year and his place on the Texans’ impact hierarchy is well deserved. He could be even more valuable with a year of experience and year to correct issues with the offense.