The Houston Texans are creating quite a buzz locally after hiring DeMeco Ryans, but how are they viewed nationwide? This week we are sitting down with Mike Meltser of Mad Dog Radio. Meltser is still based in Houston and originally came from the Texans flagship station KILT 610 AM. So, he seemed like a perfect candidate to talk about how the Texans are viewed nationally.
Battle Red Blog: You are in a unique position to be located in Houston, but also do a national show. How is the DeMeco Ryans hire playing outside of Houston? Do you think national fans still see the Texans in a negative light or do you think the hire was enough to boost the Texans’ credibility?
Mike Meltser: My sense is that the hire has not been a huge talking point nationally because of Houston’s lack of success the last three years. However, while it’s not an A story nationally, the conventional wisdom nationally is that the Texans made a very good hire. Myles Simmons of ProFootballTalk was on my show last week. When I asked him who his favorite head coach hire was (prior to the hires of Shane Steichen in Indianapolis and Jonathan Gannon in Arizona), Simmons immediately answered DeMeco Ryans. I believe a number of national media members would feel the same way.
BRB: Obviously, most of the attention this offseason has been placed on the draft and getting a quarterback. Do you like a quarterback in the number two slot or would you prefer the Texans go with a veteran quarterback? If they draft a quarterback do you see them ending up with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or Will Levis? Which of those three would you prefer if you were the Texans?
MM: All things being equal, I much prefer a quarterback at number two. The game revolves around the quarterback position. The AFC is stacked with Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Trevor Lawrence. Getting to a Super Bowl might require beating three of those guys in a row. That’s going to be hard to do without a QB of similar stature. I understand the philosophical merits of building a team and waiting for the right time to add a QB. However, there’s no guarantee that a) the right QB will be available at that time, and b) that the Texans would have the assets to draft or trade for that QB.
My preference is to draft Bryce Young. Simply put, I think he’s a special player. I like that he plays from the pocket and clearly wants to operate as a pocket QB. You can tell that he has a feel for pressure within the pocket. I’m not a film expert or football coach, but my analysis on Young boils down to this: my only question is his size. It’s a big question, and his build goes against the historical trends, but it is my only question. Thus, I would take the chance.
BRB: The Texans will have at least between 25 and 30 million dollars to spend in free agency before they make any cuts or restructure contracts. What do you see as the absolute priority to target in free agency? Are there any specific names you think we should be on the lookout for?
MM: I like this question. First, Nick Caserio needs to operate with a bigger sense of urgency to put quality football players on this roster and create excess value both in 2023 and into the future. Nobody is on scholarship here. While it is unlikely that the Texans are playoff contenders in 2023, it is imperative that for every starting position, every snap, Caserio and DeMeco Ryans are focused on playing guys who will be around when this team is playing meaningful football games.
With that disclaimer, here is a short list:
- C - Garrett Bradbury, Ethan Pocic, Connor McGovern
- IDL - Javon Hargrave, Da’Ron Payne, Zach Allen
- G - Isaac Seumalo
- TE - Dalton Schultz
- WR - Jakobi Meyers
- EDGE - Samson Ebukam
- LB - Azeez Al-Shaair
BRB: From the outside looking in, I’m sure the past couple of years have looked like a circus and made the Texans look like they really didn’t know what they were doing. How much of that do you attribute to Nick Caserio and how much to other factors? How much rope are you giving him moving forward considering this is his third head coach and the team has the worst record in football the last two seasons?
MM: I don’t really blame much of the overall organizational situation on Caserio, but my main criticism is that I feel the 2021 and 2022 seasons were not maximized in any way. Fundamentally, I did not understand Caserio’s approach to the 2021 offseason. While some may claim otherwise, it was obvious that Watson was never playing for the 2021 Texans. Signing 20+ veterans in the 2021 offseason was illogical. Why would a rebuilding team have a RB room with Mark Ingram, David Johnson, and Phillip Lindsey? It was senseless. Why did they trade draft capital for a veteran, Marcus Cannon, forcing a younger player in Tytus Howard to shift to left guard for no reason? How do you trade for Shaq Lawson without having the correct intel on the player, given that he was an NFL veteran and not a draft pick?
What happened in 2021 that led Caserio to believe re-signing Justin Britt was a good idea? Why, after the initial success against Dallas, was Jeff Driskel ever allowed to take snaps at QB for the Texans? Every moment is an opportunity to build your next playoff team. How does Jeff Driskel taking snaps against Indianapolis in Week 18 accomplish anything for the long-term of your franchise, which was, and is, the only thing that actually matters.
To be fair, Caserio is an actual general manager, unlike what existed previously. He delivered on the most important element of his tenure in Houston, executing the Watson trade. I think his draft evaluations are generally reasonable, though I do not like his habit of compiling draft picks to trade up to make bets on individual players (i.e. the overpay in the Nico Collins trade).
I would like Caserio to reimagine his vision for the future of the Texans. Houston is one of the best cities an NFL player can play in, in terms of the fans, environment, cost of living, and other factors. I feel like the culture recently has been a culture of suffering. The stands have been empty. The players suffer. The fans suffer. The media suffers. The employees of the team suffer. This needs to get back to being fun and enjoyable, like it was in 2011.
BRB: Worst to firsts are fairly routine in the NFL. This past season it was Jacksonville making it to the second round of the playoffs after having the first overall pick. Do you see that as possible for the Texans or is there another team that you think is more likely to make that leap next year?
MM: I think it’s a remote possibility that would hinge on either drafting an immediate star at QB at number two overall or signing a veteran QB who performs above expectations. On the bright side, the AFC South is a weak division that features two other teams with negative point differentials from the 2022 season. However, in the AFC, I think the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns would have a better shot to go worst to first than Houston.
We wanted to thank Mike for sitting down with us this week to discuss the Texans. As a reminder, you can catch him on Mad Dog Radio (Channel 82 on the SiriusXM dial). He also hosts The Mike Meltser podcast that focuses on sports and the law. You can find it on Apple podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts.