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Texans have found the right leader in DeMeco Ryans

On Jan. 9, 2023, Houston Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair stood in front of the media in the team auditorium and announced that he had fired head coach and defensive coordinator Lovie Smith after serving a year in the head coaching position. It was the second consecutive year that the Texans had to make such an announcement, as former head coach David Culley was fired the year prior.

“As you know, Nick (Caserio) and I spoke with Lovie (Smith) last night and informed him that we would be moving in a different direction as an organization,” McNair said. “We just felt this was the best decision for us at this time. We know the last two seasons have not been what we had hoped for, but we’re committed to building a program that’s successful long-term.

“We’ve dealt with unprecedented circumstances over the last several years, but we’re excited about our future and where we’re headed. Now we’re committed to getting this one right. Like I said, I’m excited and optimistic about what’s possible moving forward on the field. I know our team has a bright future ahead.”

Sitting in the front row, staring intently at her husband speak about the franchise’s future, was Houston Texans Foundation vice president Hannah McNair. She looked directly at the podium intently, listening to every word from general manager Nick Caserio’s mouth as he spoke about how extensive the head coaching search would be and how the McNair’s would be a massive part of the process.

“In the end, it’s going to be my recommendation to ownership, and then ownership, our dialogue with each other, and then ultimately Cal and Hannah (McNair) own the team,” said Caserio about the collaborative effort in the coaching search. “I’m going to be respectful of their wishes. I think we’re going to be respectful of each other’s perspectives and wishes, and ultimately, we’re going to do what we feel is in the best interest of the Houston Texans organization. In the end, I think the owner has the trump card. For me to think otherwise, that’s probably rude of me, but that’s just the reality of it.”

As the press conference concluded, Hannah McNair made her way toward a couple of media members, me included, and spoke freely and candidly about ensuring they would hire the right leader for the rebuilding Texans.

“We will get this right, I promise you,” she said. “We know the narrative about this team, but that is not who we are. Neither is it the way we want this franchise to be. This will be corrected very soon. Cal will make sure of that.”

Every word Mrs. McNair spoke was with passion and zeal. Her numerous conversations with her husband were not for public consumption, but she conveyed the message as best she could. What she needed the fanbase to do was be patient throughout this process, which was a lot to ask for with all the internal adversity that had transpired over the last three seasons that led to a combined 11 wins during that stretch of turmoil.

Fast forward one year later, and in the same team auditorium where the news was delivered that Smith was fired, in walks former Texans player and first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans with a smile as he prepares for his weekly press conference.

Houston headed into the final week of the regular season needing a win over the Indianapolis Colts to advance to the postseason. Still, to Ryans, it was just another game and an opportunity for his team to improve. His players followed his lead and even played with his attitude as they pulled off a gritty 23-19 win over the Colts.

The spry 39-year-old has exceeded expectations by leading the Texans back to the playoffs with a 10-7 record and capturing the AFC South Championship for the first time since 2019. The 2022 Pro Football Writers of America Assistant Coach of the Year, during his last season with the San Francisco 49ers, has reenergized the Texans fanbase and organization.

“It means everything to me to provide this opportunity for our organization, to see the smiles on everyone’s faces,” Ryans answered when asked about his season thus far. “Not just the players, but all of our support staff, the owners, Cal and Hannah (McNair). Them entrusting us. To see the smiles on Nick’s (Caserio) face. Everybody. I’m happy to be a part of it. I’m happy to see everyone smiling. I’m happy, excited about this moment, excited about this opportunity that we have in front of us. It’s a proud moment for our organization, so I’m just happy to be a part of it and happy to be along for the ride.”

The Texans ship hasn’t fully gotten back on course yet, but as Houston prepares to host the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card playoff game at NRG Stadium on Saturday, at least it isn’t spinning in circles anymore. The executive group led by the McNair’s and Nick Caserio finally got the GPS to work and chose the right captain to steer them towards success in DeMeco Ryans.

“DeMeco has definitely brought in great energy,” Cal McNair told Texans Wire during training camp. “It has energized the town, so I am excited for that. We are really excited that DeMeco wanted to come home and finish the job that he started back in 2006 when we drafted him. He has stepped into that leadership role, and I think it is going to be a really exciting time for the Texans.”

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire