C.J. Stroud was so dominant, rivals feel they have to win the MVP to compete with him

C.J. Stroud's dominance has in-division rivals feeling the need to win the MVP.
Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

It must be hard living in the shadow of someone who's supposed to be your contemporary. C.J. Stroud, the second-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, made every other quarterback taken in that draft look like they were standing still. While guys like Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Aiden O'Connell struggled to find success in the prior season, Stroud gobbled up every possible accolade like Pacman eats those little blinking dots.

Arguably, no one had a worse time with Stroud's success than divisional competitor and fellow 2023 draftee, Anthony Richardson of the Indianapolis Colts. Richardson struggled in his first few outings in 2023 and then suffered a season-ending injury. The Colts saw Gardner Minshew step up, lead the Colts to a winning record, and earn himself a Pro Bowl nod.

The belief in the Colts camp is that they can repeat the same success, if not improve upon it, with Richardson. He's being eyed as the future face of the franchise, but the heat is on for the young quarterback. Brett Kollman of Bootleg Football recently spoke about Richardson's reaction to Stroud's success and winning of the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Stroud's contemporary knows that the competition is on, with Kollman relaying what Richardson said (via AtoZsports);

""I was talking to his (Anthony Richardson) trainers, and they were rehabbing him during his recovery for surgery last year. And CJ Stroud won rookie of the year, and Ants first words were "Damn, I guess I have to win MVP next year."'"

It's wild to see that's the mindset that some guys feel they have to have now that Stroud has ascended. What's even funnier is that a quarterback who went 2-2 as a starter, and didn't even complete 60% of his passes is thinking "MVP" before he's thinking "winning record". The Colts are the third-best team in the AFC South right now, and Richardson should have his eyes on simply winning.

The only quarterback in the AFC South who, as of the end of June, has a shot at winning the MVP is Stroud. Things can change, but Stroud's the only cat who has shown the ability to lead a team to victories. Once Richardson can start winning games on that level, we can chat about MVP status.