The preseason was rough for Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, but his regular season debut told a different tale. Though the team lost a hard-fought contest to the Baltimore Ravens, Stroud held his own on the professional stage.
The rookie gunslinger completed 28 of his 44 passes (63%) for 242 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions on the day. He added four carries on the ground for an additional 20 yards.
Stroud quickly developed a rapport with wide receivers Nico Collins and Robert Woods, accounting for just under half of the Texans' total targets in the passing game. More involvement from other contributors would have been ideal, but the Ravens' defense gave the Texans offensive line fits all afternoon.
The Ravens' pass rush sacked Stroud five times on the afternoon, applying consistent and relentless pressure which forced a speed-up in the rookie’s decision-making. This was a major factor in the stagnation of the Texans' offense and a huge reason why Stroud wasn’t able to really develop a consistent rhythm.
Add in the shoulder injury that George Fant sustained during the game and you have yourself a mounting list of obstacles for the Texans during their road trip. Despite this, however, I felt that Stroud provided a solid debut in lieu of the circumstances.
While the overall stats aren’t mindblowing, the rookie’s lack of turnovers was an encouraging sign. Stroud did not make any risky throws and often took what the defense was giving him, showcasing the outstanding football IQ that made him the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
With the offensive line routinely giving up pressures, Stroud showed his escapability from the pocket, routinely either extending plays with his legs or buying enough time to throw the ball away. You just wish that those intangibles led to more points for the Texans offense.