2. DeMeco Ryans
After years of a head coach carrousel, the Houston Texans at last found stability when they hired DeMeco Ryans, who's proving that the third time is the charm. Having parted ways with Bill O'Brien in 2020, they hired Dave Culley as a placeholder until they found their guy. Houston moved on from Culley after one year and hired Lovie Smith to take his place. Smith lasted as long as his predecessor, which made the Texans an unattractive landing spot for head coaching candidates in the latest hiring cycle.
Ryans was a hot commodity following a successful stint as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, so landing him must've felt like a coup for the Texans. Aiding Ryan's quest to turn the Houston franchise around was that Jack Easterby was no longer the director of player personnel. In previous years, Easterby meddled in front office affairs and didn't let general manager Nick Caserio perform to the best of his capacity.
Without Easterby in the fold, Caserio was able to select his guy and get him as many playmakers as possible. Tank Dell, Devin Singletary, Dalton Schultz, Will Anderson Jr., and C.J. Stroud are among the many players who have shined under Ryans' leadership in 2023. Ryans also deserves recognition for letting offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik work his magic on his side of the ball.
That approach has paid dividends, and the Texans find themselves in contention for a Wild Card spot, and as recently as last week, for first place in the AFC South. Losing to the Jags was a step back in what has otherwise been a fruitful season for Houston, but it shouldn't take anything away from the job Ryans has done in his first season at the helm.