DeMeco Ryans on Texans’ expecations: ‘we’re always hunting’

The Houston Texans were one of the biggest offseason winners, but it means little if they can’t capitalize in 2024.

Second-year coach DeMeco Ryans loves the direction his team is headed following an 11-8 season capped off by a playoff win over the Cleveland Browns. Now as a favorite to win the AFC, expectations have risen to new heights following three lackluster seasons and 11 combined wins.

That doesn’t mean Houston can get complacent with its attitude despite being ‘hunted’ by other conference foes.

“We’re always hunting. That doesn’t change for us,” Ryans said Monday at the start of voluntary workouts. “Expectations on the outside, whatever that may be, it doesn’t change who we are. The expectation from the outside doesn’t permeate inside our building.”

The Texans were one of the league’s more aggressive teams this offseason after securing their first division title in four years, spending $178.5 million this offseason in guaranteed money. They inked multi-year deals with Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter, defensive lineman Denico Autry, and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair.

Houston also didn’t wait to play hardball in free agency at running back and receiver. After missing out on Saquon Barkley, the Texans traded a seventh-round pick to acquire Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon, and later signed him to a three-year extension.

General manager Nick Caserio wasn’t done yet. After trading out of the first round, Houston used a 2025 second-round pick acquired by the Minnesota Vikings to land Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl receiver Stefon Diggs, thus fortifying the offense with two veterans around a young foundation.

“He has a lot of wisdom that he carries that I think he’ll spread to other guys,” quarterback C.J. Stroud said of Diggs. “He’s been reaching out to really everybody, and I think that whole room in general is going to be great. I think we’re all going to eat off each other.”

Diggs, a six-time 1,000-yard receiver, will be playing for a new contract after the Texans voided the final three years of his deal. He’ll still earn $22.5 million after Houston added $3.5 million to his annual salary, but the former All-Pro is looking to show the NFL he hasn’t lost a step.

Those inside the building believe there’s plenty left in the tank despite a sluggish finish to last season’s playoff run.

“The guy’s been an All-Pro player, been a Pro Bowl player, over 1,000 yards for multiple seasons,” Ryans said. “So, we’re excited about adding Diggs to our team.”

The Texans are looking to expand a breakout first season behind Stroud and Ryans. Drafted No. 2 overall, Stroud took home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after leading the league in passing yards per game (237.3) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (23-5).

Fellow draftee Will Anderson Jr. won Defensive Rookie of the Year after breaking J.J. Watt’s franchise first-year sack record (7.0) while earning Pro Bowl honors. Players like Hunter, Diggs, Mixon and Al-Shaair are supposed to elevate the young duo to new levels, though that’s only on paper for now.

As a roster, the Texans have to prove they mean business, and it starts with workouts this week at NRG Stadium.

“Talk doesn’t win games,” said Ryans. “We have to go out and play good football when that time comes.”

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