A not so long time ago in an offseason no so far away, former Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods offered real optimism for his current Houston Texans team. The newly signed receiver saw a squad that had a first year head coach in DeMeco Ryans and a high ceiling roster, which reminded Woods of his inaugural season in 2017 when he came to the Rams with Sean McVay.
His comparison is looking rather apt.
Aside from Ryans and McVay both being first time head coaches, what else did Woods see that made him draw this comparison?
“I think a lot of hungry players, hungry coaches,” Woods said, via Brian Barefield of USAToday.com. “I feel like this is a similar situation to when I came to L.A. with a young McVay. Some say it was a rebuild. I feel like it was just a team buying into your coach, believing in the coach, believing in the system, and I think coach Ryans has that here. Got a lot of young players buying into this defense, into this culture, and we can change this environment.”
I read about this before the season started and filed it away. It’s worth revisiting after what we’ve seen the Texans accomplish over their first 12 weeks. A lot can change over the next six weeks, but I do not think many saw this turnaround from Houston coming. Woods may have the power of foresight. In the 2021-2022 season the Texans went 3-13-1. At 12 weeks into this season they are 6-5 with a real chance to make a push for an AFC playoff spot.
Congrats to Robert Woods on being nominated for the 2023 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award pic.twitter.com/BRoxOIeVJq— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) November 22, 2023
For comparison the Rams went 4-12 the year before McVay got there, and in his first season as LA’s head coach (2017-2018) the team was 8-3 at the 12 week mark. We know that the Rams would go on to make the playoffs in McVay’s first year, but would fall to the Atlanta Falcons in round one.
Fun fact: Do you know who the leading reciever for the Rams was in that loss? Robert Woods.
Obviously these are two different franchises and we don’t even know that Houston will make the playoffs this year, but the facts are the facts, and they are in contention. As of right now their future looks bright. It’s no longer a hot take to say Ryans and rookie quarterback CJ Stroud have turned this team around faster than anyone would’ve guessed. Except for Woods, who saw this type of turnaround coming all the way back in May.
With six weeks remaining in the regular season we’ll see how accurate Woods really was. If Houston does make the playoffs, and let’s just say they are eliminated in round one, then you may want to place a bet on Houston getting to the Super Bowl in the 2024-2025 season.
After all, that is exactly what McVay and Woods did in year two together. What will Ryans and Stroud do in their year two? I would guess Woods is hoping he will still be around Houston to find out.