The Houston Texans haven't looked right since losing C.J. Stroud in Week 14. The Texans faced the New York Jets that week, and the Jets' defense gave Stroud fits all game. That's due to having a lackluster offensive line, and that lackluster offensive line contributed to Stroud getting chucked to the ground and given a concussion.
Ever since that game, the Texans have not looked great on offense. Case Keenum was a bad option to start the next two games, causing the offense to look limited, basic, and uninspiring during the six-plus quarters he played. When Davis Mills took over this past week against the Cleveland Browns, the offense looked better, but Mills' inconsistency ensured that no comeback would be had.
Getting back Stroud is a must at this point if the Texans hope to get to the playoffs. But a balance has to be achieved. Stroud's return can only happen if he is truly ready to return, otherwise the desire to make the playoffs this season may tank the Texan's ability to make the playoffs in future seasons (see Robert Griffith III). So patience has to be the key for Stroud and his return.
Hopefully, the news that Stroud has returned to practice is a sign that he's ready to return to the starting lineup, but on the off-chance that he's not completely back, allowing him to sit is vital for the future of this franchise. It looks like Stroud is heading to a return in Week 17, but fans should be cautious about Stroud's short-term future.
He's dealing with a concussion, which we all know these days is nothing to treat lightly. If he (or anyone else for that matter) is not feeling all the way back, the Texans, Stroud, and us fans should all be ok with the idea of sitting them an extra week.
It's likely Stroud does return this week, but we should be thinking bigger picture beyond just one season.