A Ray of Hope (for the Texans Secondary)

Ray Rhodes (Elaine Thompson/AP)

For the past five seasons, the Texans have been defensive cellar-dwellers, ranking near the bottom of the NFL in total yards allowed. In fact, the Texans inaugural season of 2002 was the only year the team finished with a defensive ranking better than 23rd, but there is some renewed hope for 2008.

Renowned for being an architect of defenses, Ray Rhodes joined the Texans this year as an assistant/advisor to defensive backs coach Jon Hoke. A coaching stalwart, he brings with him 27 years of NFL experience. Ray Rhodes was actually coaching defensive backs before projected Texans starters Dunta Robinson and Jacques Reeves took their first sip of Similac. With that much experience, there's no doubt that he's going to provide this young Texans secondary with lessons that run deeper than X's and O's.

Rhodes has helped mold some of the greatest defensive backs the NFL has seen. During his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, legendary safety Ronnie Lott had the following words of appreciation: "To George Seifert and Ray Rhodes, they taught me the art of defense." That's lofty praise coming from a player who has defined the position of defensive back for generations to come.

Ray Rhodes began his coaching career in 1981 as an assistant secondary coach with the San Francisco 49ers. That year, he helped the 49ers make one of the biggest single season defensive turnarounds in league history. Prior to his arrival, the Niners' total defense and pass defense both ranked second to last. The following season, with Rhodes on the coaching staff, the Niners boasted the second best total team defense with a pass defense that ranked third in the league. In 11 years as a defensive backs coach (1981-1991) and one as defensive coordinator (1994), San Francisco had 10 top-ten defenses and won a dynastic five Super Bowl titles.

Ray Rhodes (Elaine Thompson/AP)
He had his hand in similar turnarounds serving as the defensive coordinator in Washington and in Denver. In 1999, the Redskins were ranked second to last in total defense and 26th against the pass. The very next year Rhodes turned Washington into the fourth overall defense and was ranked second against the pass. He left Washington in 2001 to be the defensive coordinator in Denver. In two seasons, he took them from being ranked 24th in total defense to eighth in 2001, and sixth in 2002.

In 2003, Ray Rhodes joined Mike Holmgren's coaching staff in Seattle. Although he wasn't able to have the same kind of success with the Seahawks, Rhodes did help improve their total team defense from 28th to 19th. He also was a part of the 2006 Seahawks playoff run that culminated in Rhodes' sixth Super Bowl appearance.

Over the course of his 27-year coaching career, Rhodes has been a part of 16 top-ten defenses, with nine of those teams finishing in the top-five. He has only coached seven teams that failed rank 16th or better. This year, fans are hoping he will add a Texas sized turn around in Houston to his ongoing legacy.

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