How Texans followed Lions’ blueprint for success, likability

The Detroit Lions underwent a significant overhaul in public image over the past several years. From the moment Dan Campbell was named their new head coach in January of 2021, the vibes were just *different*. He opened up his tenure with the Lions with public calls for biting kneecaps, signaling to his players and anyone else who would listen that this was not the same old Lions. This was a new era of Detroit football – one that was unwilling to accept their fate as the butt of jokes from NFL fans around the league every time they took the field.

The Houston Texans have undergone a similarly massive facelift in recent years. They weathered the storm of Deshaun Watson’s sexual assault allegations, taking full advantage of the opportunity to get rid of the giant, scathing black mark on the franchise by totally fleecing the Cleveland Browns in what might actually go down as the worst trade in NFL history.

Suddenly, what felt like one fell swoop, the Texans started fresh with former Houston All-Pro DeMeco Ryans at head coach (similar to what the Lions did with Campbell, who played in Detroit during his career). They revolutionized the offense with new franchise quarterback C.J. Stroud and provided him a group of ideal playmakers for a successful future. The team bought in, and suddenly, so had the public. Just like the Lions had done in the year’s prior, the Texans won over the hearts of football fans everywhere with their top-to-bottom makeover and popular faces of the franchise.

What’s making this Texans team so likable?

It starts at the top.

DeMeco Ryans makes me want to run through a brick wall

If you look up the phrase “leader of men” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Dan Campbell. You might also find a picture of Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans, who is quickly earning a reputation as a total player’s coach.

Gone are the days of ruling with an iron fist. Ryans is evoking the vibes of a democracy in the locker room – one built on a foundation of respect, relationships and connections. You wanna get the best out of those around you? Ryans’ approach is a great place to start.

It doesn’t hurt that he gives one hell of a locker-room speech, either.

C.J. Stroud’s likability is altering my brain chemistry

Ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft, Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud made an appearance on “The Edge with Micah Parsons” podcast. During the appearance, Stroud and Parsons each highlighted their ideal hypothetical offense and defense and subsequently debated which side would win out at the 20-yard line on fourth-and-3 with the game on the line.

FWIW, I’d roll with Stroud’s offense.

Stroud’s handshake game? Also totally bussin’

My new barometer for the vibes of any NFL offense moving forward will be the number of unique handshakes a quarterback has with his playmakers.

By my totally official but unofficial measurement, C.J. Stroud leads the league in this category. Well done.

A top-five offense in the making

Let’s briefly review the Texans’ offense approaching the 2024 season. They’ve got 2023 Offensive Rookie Of The Year C.J. Stroud at quarterback, throwing to what is arguably the best wide receiver trio in the league between former Bills receiver Stefon Diggs, the freshly extended Nico Collins and second-year receiver Tank Dell. They made a big-time upgrade at running back with the acquisition of former Bengal Joe Mixon. They re-signed free agent tight end Dalton Schultz to a three-year, $36 million contract while also drafting OSU tight end Cade Stover who posted a 36-406-5 line in 2022 with Stroud at quarterback.

Oh yeah. Then, there’s the Texans’ offensive line, which battled injuries throughout the 2023 season but has top-10 upside when healthy with LT Laremy Tunsil anchoring the blind side.

As if wasn’t clear enough, this offense will be doing plenty of scoring, which is a huge plus in both the entertainment column and fantasy football scoring column, for any fantasy managers out there.

You’ll be able to see the Texans plenty, too. They’re in the NFL’s Hall of Fame preseason game to kick off the 2024 preseason then play four primetime games, a national television spot in Week 16 against the Chiefs, and on Christmas Day.

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