Texans become just the fifth team in NFL history to make playoffs with this unlikely combination


Heading into the 2023 season, expectations for the Houston Texans were low. With the second-worst record in the NFL last year, few believed the Texans could make the playoffs this year. However, they defied the odds by securing their first postseason berth in four years on Saturday night with a 23-19 victory over the Colts.

This achievement is particularly noteworthy because the Texans became only the fifth team in NFL history, and the first in 11 years, to reach the playoffs with both a rookie quarterback (CJ Stroud) and a rookie head coach (DeMeco Ryans). Stroud and Ryans now join an exclusive club that includes only four other tandems:

  • 2008 Falcons: Matt Ryan and Mike Smith
  • 2008 Ravens: Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh
  • 2009 Jets: Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan
  • 2012 Colts: Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano

Stroud’s trajectory is reminiscent of Luck’s, as evidenced by his impressive performance against the Colts on Saturday. With 264 passing yards, Stroud concludes the regular season with 4,108 yards, the third-highest total by a rookie in NFL history (Luck leads the list with 4,374 yards).

Furthermore, Stroud, selected with a top-two pick, will become the third quarterback since 1967 to start a playoff game during his rookie year, joining the ranks of Luck and Robert Griffin III.

The transformation orchestrated by Stroud and Ryans has been remarkable. Turning the franchise around faster than anticipated. At the close of the 2022 season, the Texans seemed to be going nowhere. Former Texans coach Lovie Smith faced criticism for a wild win over the Colts that cost the team the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

In the coaching realm, despite interviewing several notable candidates, including Shane Steichen (defeated by Ryans on Saturday), Jonathan Gannon, Lions OC Ben Johnson, and Sean Payton, the Texans ultimately believed that Ryans was the best fit for the job. This decision is already proving to be immensely successful.

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After three years of struggle, the Texans find themselves with a suddenly bright future, showcasing the significant impact of the rookie duo, CJ Stroud and DeMeco Ryans.

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