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Houston Texans Value of Things: Comparing Defensive Head Coaching Candidates

Which of the defensive coordinators are the best head coaching candidate?

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

When evaluating possible head coaches, we can only use what they have done to grade them. None of us are in the room when they get interviewed. None of us know how Cal McNair or Nick Caserio will receive them. Heck, we don’t even know if all of these guys will be interviewed. We will simply list the names currently bandied about as possible head coaching candidates for this hiring cycle.

At the risk of sounding foolish, I have a few criteria that I used. Simply put, the time for outside the box thinking is over. You don’t get any more out-of-left-field moves. The Houston Texans get back into this thing by making the obvious move. Whether that’s drafting a quarterback, hiring a head coach, or firing the last one. You make the next obvious choice. Making the “smart” choice needs to be out the window. All of the Silicon Valley crap needs to go away.

So, we are only evaluating current defensive coordinators. We aren’t looking at former players that currently sitting on their couch or position coaches that some guy somewhere think is a future head coach. The general idea is to hire someone that has actually coached a good unit. It is hard to justify hiring a coach that had no success and then expect them to be a good head coach. Has that happened? Sure, but it isn’t the obvious choice. The obvious choice is to pick someone that is currently running a good offense or defense.

DeMeco Ryans— San Francisco 49ers

Points Allowed: 1st

Yards Allowed: 1st

Turnovers Created: 2nd

PFF Rank: 3rd

DVOA: 1st

Pro Bowlers: 3

Okay, let’s dispense with the obvious. Reports are already out that Ryans is not considering the Texans. We are just evaluating obvious candidates here. Whether Nick would want to interview him or whether Ryans hates the Texans is only conjecture. Ryans is coaching arguably the best defense in football and they are good across the board. So, he should be the number one defensive coach on the market.

Dan Quinn— Dallas Cowboys

Points Allowed: 5th

Yards Allowed: 13th

Turnovers Created: 1st

PFF Rank: 12th

DVOA: 2nd

Pro Bowlers: 3rd

We include the number of Pro Bowlers as a double edged sword. One outlook says these guys deserve credit for coaching up those players to be great. The other outlook says it is easy to be a good defense with a lot of great players. You take your pick on which you believe. Quinn has been a good head coach and a bad one. That’s usually how these things go. He has led the league in turnovers created in both of his seasons as the Cowboys DC and he was obviously brilliant in Seattle before he went to Atlanta. His record in Atlanta was so-so on defense so how good he could actually be in Houston is open to conjecture.

Jonathan Gannon— Philadelphia Eagles

Points Allowed: 11th

Yards Allowed: 2nd

Turnovers Created: 5th

PFF Rank: 2nd

DVOA: 5th

Pro Bowlers: 2

The advanced systems seem to love his defense and they have improved a lot over the two seasons he has coached them. He probably is the odds on favorite to be the next guy, so we will probably do a deeper dive eventually. The question is whether they really have improved in terms of scheme or whether they just got more talent. Both are likely true to some degree. If nothing else, his defenses have been better than Lovie Smith’s so there’s that.

Ejiro Evero— Denver Broncos

Total Points: 18th

Yards Allowed: 8th

Turnovers Created: 14th

PFF Rank 28th

DVOA: 10th

Pro Bowlers: 1

The first thing you think about is pedigree. This was his first season as a DC, but he came from Los Angeles and was on their Super Bowl winning staff. For much of the season, the Broncos offense was the worst in the NFL. They finished 32nd in points scored. So, his defenses were playing from behind and spent an awful amount of time on the field. Yet, they kept the team in most games and gave them a fighting chance to win. Bradley Chubb was traded midseason and yet they still competed with one Pro Bowl player. He wouldn’t be my first choice, but he’s an intriguing candidate.

Final Ranking

So far, the Texans have requested interviews with three of these four guys. Who knows what the process is going to look like in the end as Nick Caserio alluded to a relatively new NFL inspired process that might play things out further. Other teams have already requested interviews with Dan Quinn, so we can’t rule him out. Assuming all of these guys want to interview. Ryans is obviously the local favorite. Gannon might be the betting favorite. However, I wouldn’t rule out Evero. The numbers don’t look great but when one of the units on your squad is that bad it is hard for the other one to play at a high level. Yet, the Broncos defense did most of the time. That’s a huge feather in his cap.