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Houston Texans Value of Things: Identifying the Finalists

Who passes the hype test?

San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

In economics there is the concept of “opportunity costs.” Essentially it comes down to the fact that there are an infinite number of possibilities that one could spend their money on, spend their time on, or, in this case, hire to be their head coach. Once you make a decision, there are any number of options that you’ve turned down. That is the opportunity costs.

It’s at this point that I want to remind the reading public about something I’ve said before. We can only grade moves on the information available at the time. Hindsight is not a good indicator of the wisdom that goes into any decision. The good news is that the Houston Texans have interviewed eight guys (one has since dropped out) and all the seven remaining guys have some level of competence required to create some buzz.

So, in this edition of Value of Things we will rank order some of the candidates in order of hype. Simply put, the Texans need some buzz. They need excitement. They need hope. All seven would generate some of that, but who would generate the most and why? What we will also list is the one question each should have to answer before they took over. I’d assume there were many more questions involved in hiring THE coach but we will list the questions fans would most like to ask of each one.

DeMeco Ryans— The Betting Favorite

Why the hype: He coaches the number one defense and he was a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker in Houston. He would have more love here than anywhere else he could be hired. His leadership skills are off the charts and known to everyone he has played with or coached. In essence he would be like hiring Mike Vrabel if Vrabel were returning to his stomping grounds. That alone would make this a home run hire.

What’s the question? Yes, he has the number one defense, but he arguably also has the most talent. Is there anything he is doing specifically scheme wise to make them number one or does he simply tell Nick Bosa to go get the quarterback? What are his ideas to transform a below average unit with below average talent into something resembling a good NFL defense?

Shane Steichen— A Close Second

Why the Hype: Jalen Hurts is definitely a top five MVP candidate. No one dreamed that was possible. Steichen was Justin Herbert’s offensive coordinator in 2020. You could argue that Herbert was better as a rookie than in either of the past two seasons. So, that’s two different quarterbacks with different styles that could have done their very best under Steichen. Imagine him with Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud.

What’s the question: How responsible is he for this offense? Nick Sirianni was the OC in Indy before coming to Philadelphia so isn’t this really his offense. Plus, is their offense really this revolutionary or is it just the product of all of the awesome talent that they have? So, this criticism is similar to DeMeco Ryans except that Ryans definitely runs that defense. Does Steichen really run this offense on his own?

Jonathan Gannon— The Early Favorite

Why the Hype— This is where the hype train probably runs off the tracks. The Eagles are good and their defense is good. So, the hype is likely the fact that he runs a successful unit that wins a lot of football games. They were eighth in points allowed this season, third in yards allowed, and second in yards per play. They were also fourth in turnovers generated. In short, this was a really good defense and he is the one that coached it.

What’s the question: Before we get into this year we need to know what happened last year. Why weren’t you the guy last year? What has changed exactly? Like Steichen, he needs to tell us why the defense is good and what he would do here to make this defense better. The Eagles have a ton of talent on defense, so are they good because of the talent or because of the scheme?

Mike Kafka— The Darkhorse

Why the Hype— Kafka and Brian Daboll took the Giants and Daniel Jones and transformed them into something decent. Some will sour on him because of how the Eagles dismantled them, but we have to remember the talent differential. Talent-wise the Giants probably shouldn’t have been anywhere near that game. Texans fans should also be interested in anyone that has worked with Patrick Mahomes. More than any other remaining candidate, he has overcome long odds to put a decent offense on the field.

What’s the question— He was a quarterbacks coach for the Chiefs and an offensive coordinator under an offensive-minded head coach. So, how much of their success was really due to him or was he merely along for the ride?

Ejiro Evero— Surprising Finalist

Why the Hype- I honestly was going to leave him off the list, but it was reported that he and Matt Kafka were getting second interviews. The other three candidates cannot have second interviews yet, so we shouldn’t read too much into this. Evero was Denver’s defensive coordinator and they had a top ten defense with one of the worst offenses in the NFL and after trading Bradley Chubb. So, while he seems like a real longshot, crazier things have happened.

What’s the question— Like with the rest of the coordinators, it will depend on his plan for the other side of the ball. He is a relatively new face, so it is questionable as to whether he has some of the contacts the others on the list do.

The Final verdict

Remember a few things as we move forward. The most important thing is that we Texans fans feel hopeful about the future now. They will eventually play games and then the hire will either make sense or not. So, the key is for us to record our thoughts in the moment of the hire. No one knows exactly when the hire will happen, but by this time in one month the Texans will have a new coach and it will likely be one of these guys.