C.J. Stroud has made the Houston Texans fun again
Forget Rookie of the Year, Stroud is in the MVP discussion
The Houston Texans are having one of their best seasons in some time. They went into Cincinnati and knocked off Bengals team that has reached the AFC Championship Game each of the last two seasons and have a Super Bowl appearance in there as well. They Just beat a Klyer Murray-motivated Cardinals squad in a tough game.
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The Texans are now 6-4. This is the first time since 2019 Houston has reached even five wins in a season. They still have seven games left to play this season.
First-year head coach DeMeco Ryans was already known to be a great leader. He’s truly now making his own mark in the NFL. General manager Nick Caserio had a great offseason, building in this year’s draft and creating a young and competitive roster.
That young roster includes Caserio’s biggest catch as Houston’s GM: quarterback C.J. Stroud.
After the Carolina Panthers took Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the first pick, Houston gladly took the Ohio State quarterback with the second pick and then traded up to No. 3 with Arizona to grab Alabama edge defender Will Anderson, a forceful rookie in his own right.
To this point of the season, Stroud has completely transformed the Texans’ offense and has already made offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik a future head-coaching candidate. Thanks to two young receivers in Nico Collins and Tank Dell as well as tight end Dalton Schultz, Stroud has the means to operate the offense effectively.
But it’s Stroud himself that is really making the offense go. Between his excellent throwing ability and mobility to make plays on the ground, Stroud has made the Texans absolutely fun to watch again. Houston is right in the hunt. They currently hold the 6th playoff spot in the AFC and are just one game behind the Jacksonville Jaguars - the team they beat 37-17 in Week 3 - in the AFC South. And the teams meet in Houston Sunday.
There really isn’t much debate at this point about Stroud as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The talk has now converted to Stroud being in the discussion for Most Valuable Player for 2023.
There were six quarterbacks this season with a rating over 100 through ten weeks. Brock Purdy, Tua Tagovailoa, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins…and C.J. Stroud. Stroud dipped down to 99.1 following Sunday’s game which included three interceptions agains the Cardinals.
Stroud is also 7th in the league in Expected Points Added per Dropback at 0.16. Only Purdy, Tagovailoa, Prescott, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are better.
Would things be the same if Stroud and Young were flipped? Probably not. But it’s also way too early to say Carolina completely botched the Young pick. His environment isn’t the greatest, though he hasn’t completely helped himself either.
Stroud is certainly in a really good environment at the moment and that’s a credit to Caserio, who should be in contention, if not among the favorites, for Executive of the Year.
Draft Impact on Team building
Stroud has put the Texans way ahead of schedule. Early mock drafts had the Arizona Cardinals with the first two picks in the draft because the Cardinals and Texans were given the worst odds to win the Super Bowl. Houston hovered around 6.5 wins as their over/under before the season. They’re already at six with seven games left.
Houston knows they hit the jackpot with Stroud. Not only is Stroud already playing like a top quarterback, he’s keeping the Texans very competitive and went toe-to-toe with Joe Burrow.
Carolina is still figuring out if they found their guy at quarterback. Indianapolis has to wait until next season to get more with Anthony Richardson after his shoulder injury. Tennessee maybe has something with Will Levis.
Houston’s remaining schedule is a such: vs. Jacksonville, vs. Denver, at New York Jets, at Tennessee, vs. Cleveland, vs. Tennessee, at Indianapolis.
You could argue there are at least 4-5 winnable games in that group. That puts Houston at 10-11 wins. That could very well get them a wild card and maybe even the division. If Houston makes the playoffs, Stroud will absolutely get some MVP votes, especially now that voters can rank their top options instead of just voting for one player.
Mahomes, Hurts and Lamar Jackson are among the favorites right now. But Stroud has climbed up boards fast, going from 100-1 to 25-1. Those odds should only continue to grow.
C.J. Stroud has arrived, so get used to it.