Who is the right choice for the Texans: Ranking the head coaching candidates

By Tyler Tyre, Sports Editor
Posted 1/29/23

The Houston Texans took no time in developing a vast array of candidates for their head coaching vacancy last week, as they already have reached out to interview eight coaches from around the league.

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Who is the right choice for the Texans: Ranking the head coaching candidates


The Houston Texans took no time in developing a vast array of candidates for their head coaching vacancy, as they already have already interviewed eight different coaches from around the league.

The candidates come in many forms, from offensive to defensive minded, coordinators to assistants and up and comers to veterans with head coaching experience. The Texans have kept their options open to try and find the right fit in what is probably the most important head coaching search in the franchises history.  

So lets take a look at each candidate so far and how they stack up against each other in my view.

  1. Ejiro Evero: Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator

Only a first year defensive coordinator, Evero has picked up steam as a candidate for a number of head coaching jobs, including in Houston and Carolina.

Evero’s teams have been consistently good over the years even when he was not a coordinator, and after getting his first chance at running a defense this year he delivered, even as the Broncos had a disappointing season.

Denver’s defense finished seventh in yards allowed per game, seventh in opponents points per drive and second in third-down success rate.

Evero worked his way up the ladder, first as an assistant in Tampa Bay and then with the 49ers, Packers and eventually the Rams, before joining Broncos, those close to him rave about his leadership and his defensive acumen. But with the candidates that the Texans have, he would not be at the top of my personal list.

  1. Jonathan Gannon: Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator

Said by some to be the early front runner for the Texans head coaching job, Gannon has been interviewed by a number of teams after helping the Eagles rebuild to a contender over the previous two years.

Gannon has been around the game for 15 years at the NFL level, stating as a quality conrol coach with the Atlanta Falcons before moving to the Titans and Vikings. Then he joined the Colts as a defensive backs coach before becoming the Eagles defensive coordinator for last year and this year. The Eagles are allowing the fewest yards per play this year to go with the most quarterback hits and the most sacks in the league while clinching the first seed in the NFC.

Gannon was a finalist for the job last year, and is expected to be a very strong contender against any of the other candidates this year.

  1. Thomas Brown: Los Angeles Rams Tight Ends & Assistant Head Coach

Brown was a fast up and comer last year but his name has cooled off a bit in coaching searches this year after the Rams struggles in 2022.

Brown only has three years of NFL coaching experience, but spent over a decade in the college ranks before that and is lauded by his peers. He started his career at Georgia before working his way around the college ranks, eventually becoming the offensive coordinator at Miami from 2016-2018. He spent a year at South Carolina before joining the Los Angeles Rams as a running backs coach in 2020, adding the assistant head coach title the next year. Brown became the teams tight ends coach this year as he continued to work himself up the ladder.

Brown is someone the Texans would have to take a shot on, without any NFL experience as a coordinator and only a few years overall in the league, so it remains to be seen if the organization thinks he is someone that can build along with a young team.

  1. Mike Kafka: New York Giants Offensive Coordinator

Mike Kafka to be clear is not a bad candidate for many head coaching jobs, but the Texans have put together a very good search with lots of talented coaches and I am not sure of the fit, or experience so far.

Kafka spent six years as a backup quarterback or practice squad member in the NFL before getting into coaching, he spent one year as a graduate assistant before joining Andy Reid’s coaching staff in Kansas City and since then has been a very fast riser.

Kaftka spent a year as the quality control coach for the chiefs before becoming the teams quarterbacks coach for two seasons and then also adding the hat as the teams passing game coordinator for two years. He then joined the New York giants this year under first year head coach Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator and has helped orchestrate a major turnaround for the Giants, as the team has made it back to the playoffs and into the second round of the playoffs, while helping quarterback Daniel Jones reach a new level.

But Kafka is in an unfortunate position where he has always been under an offensive guru in coaching, whether it was in Kansas City with Reid and Eric Beiniemy or the Giants with Daboll, making it hard to grade on what he has done vs. what the staff above him has done.

  1. Sean Payton: Former New Orleans Saints Head Coach

Sean Payton’s record as a head coach is top notch, and you don’t see often someone with that kind of resume become available, or be interested in a team that is in the current state that the Texans are. I’m sure for the majority of people, Patyon is at the top of their list of potential coaching options, but for me, he still ranks second.

Payton became the head coach in New Orleans and turned in one of the biggest turnarounds a coach could in the NFL, taking New Orleans from relative national obscurity to one of the most successful teams in the league over his 15 years as head coach, never losing more than nine games in a season and making the playoffs nine times, making the NFC Championship three times and winning a super bowl.

He has a great offensive acumen and has experience bringing along quarterbacks at the highest level. He also would be a good choice to help a front office and ownership group that has heavily struggled over the past few years. The main downside for bringing Payton in would be the draft conpensation the Texans would have to give up, as Payton is still technically under contract with the Saints, and any team wanting to secure his services is expected to have to give up a first round pick to make Payton their head coach.

  1. Shane Steichen: Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator

The Texans have seemed to lean towards Gannon out of everyone so far in this coaching search, but if it were up to me, I could take a much harder look at the Eagle’s offensive coordinator than their defensive coordinator.

Steichen has been a huge success for the eagles over the past two years, turning around a struggling offense into one of the best in the NFL and helping grow Jalen Hurts into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Steichen started his career at Louisville as an offensive assistant before going to the NFL, joining the Chargers coaching staff, he moved himself up from an assistant to quality control coach to eventually becoming the offensive coordinator for the Chargers in 2019 and 2020.

The Eagles have been one of the best and most consistent offenses in the NFL thls year. They are second in total points, second in yards and top ten in both passing and rushing yards this year as they have been formidable, and it would be very intriguing to pair his offensive talents with a top young quarterback.

  1. DeMeco Ryans: San Fransisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Which brings me to my top candidate for the Texans job and it’s a familiar face in DeMeco Ryans.

There are a lot of reasons that Ryans is my top pick for the job. He has led the 49ers defense to among the league leaders in each of the past two seasons and this year has been impressive, as the defense has led the team to a great position entering the playoffs.

San Francisco’s defense is ranked in the top five in opponents points per game, yards per game, yards per play, and touchdowns per game this year, as they have been among the top defenses in almost every category.

Ryans, who started his career as a player with the Texans and was one of this towns first stars, isn’t just a great choice for his X’s and O’s, but also what he would bring to this city. The Texans need excitement, they need someone who can rejuvenate this fanbase and most of all, fans need someone who they can trust. Ryans has all of these qualities, while also being young and having a chance to stay as the head coach for a long time.

Maybe it’s the nostalgia of watching him when I was young, maybe its trusting Ryans more than those in the front office and ownership because he knows what it means to be a Texans and play at NRG, but for me the answer is clear, and he is my top choice.

NFL, Texans, DeMeco Ryans, sports, football