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How Texans' CJ Stroud finds himself in elite company after dazzling comeback victory

Texans CJ Stroud
CJ Stroud has been beyond impressive. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.
Here are all the ways Houston Texans QB CJ Stroud is breaking the mold

Him.

The Man.

QB1.

The Face of the Franchise.

Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV.

C.J.

Whatever you want to call him, make sure you say it with the utmost respect. Stroud had the performance of a lifetime in the Texans' 39-37 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs. He led his team to an improbable comeback win. Improbable you ask? They were on their third or fourth different starting center. The whole team has been decimated with injuries. Quarterback is the only position group that hasn't had a guy miss a game this season from injury. The injuries kept coming in-game as Jimmie Ward, M.J. Stewart, Ka'imi Fairbairn (more on this shortly), John Metchie III, and Hassan Ridegway were all ruled out of the game with injuries. All of that, plus being down 37-33 with 46 seconds left and two timeouts. Nothing a rookie record of 470 yards passing and five touchdowns with no picks couldn't cure.

None of it phased him. One of the injuries has been to Robert Woods. A bit of an afterthought of a wide receiver signing because he was coming off an okay season with the Titans. A receiver over 30 years old two years removed from an ACL injury isn't exactly WR1 material for a rookie QB. Woods became a safety blanket for Stroud. The other receivers were all unproven with little experience. Dalton Schultz (211) was the only one of them that had more than 100 career receptions entering this season. Combine that with a first time offensive coordinator, rookie head coach, and a franchise trying to turn their team around, you wonder how is this kid seeing this much success so early on?

Faith. He opened his post game presser by thanking his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When asked how he stays so calm, he reiterated his faith by saying, “God gives me a peace to remain calm despite all what's going on around me.” He spoke about how he's a family man and struggles with balancing everything sometimes. That led to him speaking out on criminal justice reform. He brought up his dad's situation, as well as prison conditions in Mississippi. Saying he wants to use his platform for criminal justice reform was a delight, but the fact that he knows about it and does the research was impressive. “Some of the conditions with rats and roaches and stuff… I mean, I know they're criminals, but they're humans too.”

Whenever I hear about a player's leadership skills, I often pay attention to what others say about them. Unprompted praise from a vet on a rookie's leadership skills isn't something that should be ignored. When Laremy Tunsil says he's impressed by Stroud's leadership skills and other vets speak very highly of him, it lets me know the hype is no longer hype. The hype has given way to the real deal. Stroud is everything they say he is and then some. Stories like this go back to his time at Ohio State. He once told his NIL agent he didn't want any more deals so he could focus on being a good teammate and leader. He even bought his teammates gifts to share his newfound wealth. So I wasn't really surprised when I heard he regularly hosts teammates for dinner during the week.

Setting rookie passing records while leading your team to a comeback win on the final drive is one way to announce your arrival to the upper echelon of QBs in this league. No longer is he thought of as a good young QB, or good for a rookie. He's good. Period. Use whatever measuring stick you want, this kid stacks up with the best in this league. Name 10 QBs in this league playing better football this year. I doubt you can. As good as he is now, wait until they put more talent around him. If he stays healthy, he's going to be in that top QB conversation for a long time. Stroud has given Houston something it can be proud of.

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What could hold the Texans back this season? Composite Getty Image.

We made it! Training camp is officially here, with all the Texans players having reported to the team and set to take the field this Thursday.

And while the Texans are the favorites to win the division, there are some areas of concern heading into the season.

ESPN Texans reporter DJ Bien-Aime joined The Mina Kimes Show and shared his thoughts on the Texans outlook this season.

When looking at the Texans offense, Bien-Aime pointed to Houston's play calling as being a possible issue in 2024. Bobby Slowik did a terrific job in his first season as an offensive coordinator. But he will have his hands full keeping all his playmakers happy with Stefon Diggs joining the team, and Nico Collins expecting a lot of looks after signing a massive contract extension.

Kimes also pointed to Slowik's insistence on staying committed to the running game even when the team was having zero success on the ground. Hopefully that issue will get corrected either through better results in the run game, or putting the ball in CJ Stroud's hands when the ground game is repeatedly getting stuffed.

On defense, both Kimes and Bien-Aime named Houston's secondary as the big x-factor this year. Bien-Aime named cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. as the only player in the secondary that he truly trusts. He also strongly believes that rookie cornerback Kamari Lassiter will start opposite Stingley as the team's No. 2 corner.

The Texans certainly have concerns at defensive tackle with Sheldon Rankins and Malik Collins gone, but the secondary has to be the biggest worry in a pass-heavy NFL. Not to mention the level of quarterback play the Texans will face while dealing with a first-place schedule this year.

If you love hearing informed football analysts talking ball, this is the video for you. They cover all things Texans and give a full preview of the AFC South, plus predictions!

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