IDP Impact: Texans, Dolphins Add Top Defensive Coaches

The Houston Texans have hired 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as the team’s new head coach, and Vic Fangio heads to Miami. What should IDP players expect?

DeMeco Ryans Returns to Houston as Head Coach

The NFL is a league of storylines. If the first-ever Super Bowl between two brothers didn’t convince you of that, then the hiring of DeMeco Ryans should.

Ryans spent six seasons with the Texans as a linebacker, two of which led to Pro Bowl nominations and one a Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. It’s the perfect hire to establish a much-needed winning culture in Houston and someone who will likely win the locker room over in short order.

J.J. Watt quickly congratulated the 49ers’ defensive coordinator and, more importantly, a former teammate. It would be fun to see the now-retired Watt immediately hop into the coaching tree with his friend Ryans, but that’s based on hopes.

The Texans hired Ryans to replicate the success the 49ers had this season, boasting an appearance in the NFC title game using the league’s second-best rushing defense — and likely DPOY — Nick Bosa.

There are building blocks for Ryans in Houston, namely in a Texans secondary that greatly improved in 2022. Derek Stingley impressed in spurts, and safety Jalen Pitre had a great rookie season.

The issues remain at the linebacker and defensive line position groups. Christian Harris had an inconsistent rookie campaign, and while Christian Kirksey was serviceable, neither is safe if Ryans wants more athletic options akin to his dominant San Francisco duo.

Similarly to Vic Fangio mentioned below, Ryans uses the same concept of letting his defensive linemen get to the QB while linebackers cover the subsequent gaps. He sometimes utilized a safety like Jimmie Ward or Talanoa Hufanga in the box, which shapes up well for Pitre or even Jonathan Owens.

There’s a massive talent difference between the 49ers and the Texans. But considering there were two 125+ tackle linebackers and five defenders with 75+ tackles, the swarming technique Ryans teaches will render well for fantasy. It’s just a matter of who the team brings in to fit the scheme as the head coach switches from the second-best rushing defense to the league’s worst.

Vic Fangio Joins Miami in Record Deal

Anyone with a nose for defense knows how good of a hire Vic Fangio is. If you don’t know, let me tell you.

The Dolphins hired the 64-year-old coordinator to fix Miami’s 24th-ranked defense, which was a consistent liability throughout the year. Fangio is now the league’s highest-paid coordinator and has his work cut out for him.

Even after making a splash trade for Bradley Chubb, the defense wasn’t consistent enough. The unit was one of 10 teams to have less than eight fumbles recovered, finished 31st in takeaways, and was tied for 14th in sacks despite a plethora of talent on the defensive line.

That’s what IDP players should be excited about. The talent is there, and consistency might finally follow. Fangio has coached five top-5 defenses since 2011 and eight top-10. The tools are there to do it again after taking a year off coaching.

Jaelan Phillips had a solid second half of a lackluster season, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Phillips had seven sacks — the lowest sack total of 13 players with at least 25 QB hits. The pressures are getting there, and the sacks could soon follow in spades. But it won’t come from a barrage of blitzes.

Fangio is more conservative, preferring to allow his pass rush to get home without the aid of additional bodies. During three years as Denver’s head coach, the team never exceeded 15th in blitz rate. That’s not to say the sacks won’t come. However, the storied defensive coordinator’s zone scheme starkly contrasts with the man blitzes the 2022 Dolphins utilized.

The varied coverages allow for different blitz packages and more diverse looks. In four seasons with the Bears as defensive coordinator, only one season saw his squad finish outside the top-12 in sacks. That one season was his first in Chicago, so it’s fair to question whether immediate results will come in Miami.

But between Chubb and Phillips, there’s a lot for Fangio to work with. Both need to boost their TFL numbers, at the very least. Fangio’s emphasis on a zone scheme should allow some more freedom to move.

There’s still turnover coming in Miami at MLB, CB, and S, most likely, so it’s tough to speculate further. But pairing an experienced Fangio with a rising offensive mind in Mike McDaniel is an excellent step toward unseating the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.

A shortened version of this article first came out in The IDPGuys Newsletter.  It comes out every Wednesday morning straight to your inbox. Click here to sign up!

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