Solomon: DeMeco Ryans has won over Texans fans. Draft and games are next

DeMeco Ryans has Texans' faithful smiling at prospects of turning team around.

DeMeco Ryans has Texans' faithful smiling at prospects of turning team around.

Karen Warren/Staff photographer

There is no doubt DeMeco Ryans is going to be a players’ coach.

He is also the people’s coach.

All around town, Texans fans are excited about the return of a former team captain who has said he is on a mission to deliver the city’s first NFL champion.

You might feel pressure in such a situation, but some of the characteristics that made Ryans a special player should also make him an excellent coach.

He is methodical. He thinks. He plans. He executes.

“I don't feel any pressure, because I know I'm surrounding myself with the right people, and I know we can get the job done,” Ryans said Tuesday. “I know Houston is hungry for a winner. Trust me, I'm just as hungry to create a winner for this organization, for this city. It means a lot to me, and I want to be able to bring that to Houston.

“So it's no pressure. It just reminds me just continue to put your head down and go to work with the right purpose and to be detailed and just make sure we're adding really great players to our team, so when we line up on that field on Sundays, I want to put a team out there that our city is proud of.”

Ryans has said all the right things. It’ll be sometime before we know if he is making the right moves.

The NFL draft is two weeks away, and what could possibly be the most important decision of Ryans’ head coaching career will be made in concert with general manager Nick Caserio.

The Texans have the No. 2 overall pick. Desperate for a franchise quarterback, the franchise isn’t likely to have a better opportunity to grab one.

The Texans would have had an even better opportunity this year were it not for Ryan’s predecessor, Lovie Smith, engineering a win in the season finale, but the second pick is still a prime position.

Bryce Young of Alabama and C.J. Stroud are widely considered the top two quarterbacks in the draft.

The Panthers will almost certainly select one of them.

Stroud was in town to meet with the Texans last week. Young was in Carolina on Tuesday with the Panthers and will visit the Texans later this week.

Ryans had an interesting take on the potential rookie high draft pick instantly becoming the face of the franchise.

“I think it's unfair to ask a guy, just because you're picked No. 2 overall, you have to come in and you're the face of our franchise and you’re the leader,” Ryans said “That's unfair to the guy. I'm not going to put that type of weight on the shoulders of whoever we pick.

“That's not what we're anticipating. That’s not what we’re expecting them to do. We're expecting them to come in, be a great teammate, work hard, be deliberate in what you're doing, and have a mindset to get better each and every day. That's the mindset, no matter if it's pick two or the last pick of the draft.

“We have leaders in our locker room already, so I'm not asking a guy to come in and be this savior for our team. We're asking him to come in and put his head down and just work.”

Try as Ryans might to minimize it, if the Texans draft a quarterback, the rest of the world will expect greatness. The heat will be on the rookie the second Roger Goodell announces the choice.

Case Keenum, who signed as a free agent, is a good fit as a veteran presence who can start if the rookie isn’t ready from day one.

The Texans brass has been tightlipped about whom they prefer. Just know he will be the guy the Texans claim they wanted all along.

Oddsmakers have placed the best odds on Carolina taking Young.

Ryans wasn’t about to answer the question of whether the Texans would take their second choice at QB if Carolina takes their favorite.

That crucial decision will shape the franchise for years to come. So will the hiring of Ryans.

Misfiring on that pick will be on Caserio, whose No. 1 job is acquiring players. But the wins and losses will be on Ryans’ record.

He is doing an outstanding job so far. Of course, no games have been played.

This honeymoon for the favored son will last until at least September.