First-round draft picks are a commodity in the NFL. They are building blocks franchises use to establish a promising future. Nick Caserio and his front office utilized their capital wisely this off-season. It's resulted in an exciting season and, hopefully, a playoff berth. We cannot deny C.J. Stroud's brilliance throughout the first several games of his career. He's an asset the Houston Texans need to protect Sunday against a vicious front seven.
Will Bobby Slowik's offensive line play well against the New York Jets?
C.J Stroud holds the Houston Texans' ticket to the post-season
A remarkable start is a dream for most professional quarterbacks. Some headaches come with adjusting to the big stage. C.J. Stroud has been immune to some of the rookie symptoms. His leadership under center is noteworthy and changes the course of games. Bobby Slowik relies on Stroud to make calculated decisions every week. The first-round pick comes through in the clutch and puts Houston in a position to win ball games. Stroud (3,495) has more passing yards than Tua Tagovailoa (3,495), Josh Allen (3,215) and Patrick Mahomes (3,129). He's tied for eighth in touchdown passes (20) heading into Week 14.
A win against the Denver Broncos helped Houston in the Conference standings. DeMeco Ryans' group performed well enough to capture a victory but showed room for improvement. Vance Joseph's defense disrupted Houston's offense throughout the game. They limited Stroud to one touchdown pass and earned five sacks. Denver's relentless pass rush caused No.7 to underperform. He finished the game with his second-lowest passing grade (56.9). Stroud remained poised despite an uproar in the pocket. He limited turnovers (0) and led the Texans to victory.
Houston Texans must slow down the Jets pass rush
Protecting the quarterback is essential for Bobby Slowik's offense in Week 14. It's been an issue for his group throughout the year. His group ranks sixth in sacks allowed (31) in a dire par of the campaign. Poor pocket awareness deserves blame for some of Houston's blunders - but the majority falls on the offensive line's hands. They've earned a fair grade (66.3) for their pass-blocking contributions but must improve before it becomes too late.
Jeff Ulbrich's defensive line will force the Texans to bring their best. They've earned a respected reputation throughout the league thanks to dominant performances this season. Bryce Huff (83.3) and Quinnen Williams (78.5) lead the Jets in pass rush grading. Contributions from Jermaine Johnson and Quinton Jefferson do not go unnoticed. They combine for 16 sacks this year - ranking the Jets sixth in pass rush grading (79.5).
Impressive defensive performances make New York's interior a threat for C.J. Stroud this weekend. He must rely on his offensive line and receiving core to handle business to succeed. Jeff Ulbrich's unit is stingy and will not go down without a fight. Bobby Slowik's offense must remain resilient to earn an AFC conference win.
All statistics courtesy of pff.com.