NO-BRAINER

Important lessons learned: Why Texans QB situation is cut-and-dry

Texans DeMeco Ryans
CJ Stroud needs to start from day one. Composite Getty Image.
Houston Texans trade up to No. 62 overall and bolster offensive line

As the Houston Texans week of OTAs winds down, we’re told that Davis Mills and C.J. Stroud are sharing QB1 snaps, and it’s an open competition for the starting quarterback job.

“I’m competing for that starting job,” Mills told reporters on Tuesday. “Since I’ve been drafted in the NFL, I have been in a competition. I don’t think anything is going to change.”

Oh it’s going to change.

The Texans should say right now that Stroud will be the starter when the Texans open their 2023 season against the Baltimore Ravens and put this silly photo op to rest. The Texans didn’t draft Stroud at No. 2 and give him $36 million guaranteed over four years, including a $25 million bonus just for scribbling his name on a contract, to sit and watch Mills run this team to another three or four-win season.

Granted, Stroud is an unproven talent at the NFL level. Mills is. And that’s why there’s not really a competition for the starting quarterback job.

And that’s the smart thing for the Texans to do. They just bought a 2023 model luxury car – why let it sit in the garage while they take their 3-year-old economy car to work?

Maybe the Texans are insisting that Stroud has to earn the starting job to put a burr under his saddle. But if the Texans’ goal is to win a Super Bowl in coming years, Stroud is their best bet.

Even if they have to suffer another losing season, like the last three when they won three games, four games and four games.

As Michael Corleone said, “if history has taught us anything …”

Troy Aikman was 0-11 as a starter his rookie season for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. He threw nine touchdowns and 18 interceptions. The Cowboys finished 1-15 that season.

Aikman won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys.

Peyton Manning went 3-13 as a starter his rookie season for the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. He threw 26 touchdowns and a league-leading 28 interceptions.

Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl with the Colts and later another one with the Broncos.

Eli Manning went 1-6 as a starter his rookie season with the New York Giants in 2004. He threw six touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Giants went 6-10 that year.

Eli Manning won two Super Bowls with the Giants.

John Elway went 4-6 as a starter his rookie season with the Denver Broncos in 1983. He threw seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Elway won two Super Bowls with the Broncos.

In 1965 the New York Jets drafted two quarterbacks: Joe Namath from Alabama and John Huarte from Notre Dame. The Heisman Trophy winner that season: Huarte, not Namath. The Jets signed Namath to a record-smashing $427,000 contract. Huarte got half that.

Namath went 3-5-1 as a starter his rookie season. Four years later he led the Jets to a historic upset over the Colts in the Super Bowl. Huarte never saw the field for the Jets and was traded to Patriots the following season.

Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson all started as rookies and later won the Super Bowl.

Sure, Aaron Rodgers sat on the bench for three seasons before becoming a Super Bowl quarterback. But he sat behind Brett Favre. Recently Jordan Love had to sit three seasons behind Rodgers.

Davis Mills is no Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. There’s no reason for C.J. Stroud to have to wait to start for the Texans. What do the Texans have to lose, besides another 12 or 13 games?

Of course, being drafted No. 2 and starting immediately doesn’t always lead to Super Bowl glory.

In 1998, the San Diego Chargers drafted can't miss, physical specimen Ryan Leaf at No. 2 behind Peyton Manning. Leaf was named QB1 and threw two touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his nightmare rookie season. Head coach Kevin Gilbride (remember him?) was fired after six games.

Leaf finished his brief career with 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. Deadspin ranked Leaf as the sixth-worst player in NFL history. Some say Deadspin was too kind. He later spent almost as many months in prison (32) as he did as an active player (36).

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Astros defeat the Orioles, 5-1. Composite Getty Image.

Ronel Blanco pitched seven strong innings and Chas McCormick homered twice to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Yordan Alvarez added a two-run shot to help Houston extend its winning streak to four games.

Blanco (8-2), who threw seven hitless innings in his last start, allowed four hits and a run with three strikeouts for his third straight win.

Alvarez put the Astros on top with his 16th homer, which came off Corbin Burnes (8-3) in the third, and McCormick made it 4-1 in the fifth. McCormick got his fifth career multihomer game when he connected again in the eighth.

Burnes allowed five hits, including a season-high two homers and a season-most four runs in seven innings to snap his career-best streak of 10 consecutive quality starts. He was 5-0 in seven starts since a loss at Washington on May 7.

Jordan Westburg homered in the second for the Orioles, who set a franchise record with 21 straight games with a home run to surpass the 1998 squad's 20-game streak.

Baltimore had troubled stringing hits together Saturday after scoring 28 runs combined in the last two games. The top four batters in their order combined to go 1 for 13 against Blanco and Houston's bullpen.

Ryan Pressly threw a scoreless eighth before Josh Hader struck out two in a perfect ninth to end it.

Westburg connected off Blanco with one out in the second to put the Orioles up 1-0.

Yainer Diaz opened Houston’s second with a triple on a line drive to right field. The Astros tied it when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Mauricio Dubón with one out.

McCormick singled with no outs in the third and the shot to center field by Alvarez came with two outs to put Houston on top 3-1.

McCormick’s home run to the seats in left field extended the lead to 4-1 with one out in the fifth.

Cedric Mullins tripled off the wall in center with one out in the seventh. Colton Cowser hit a sharp line drive, but was robbed of a hit when shortstop Jeremy Peña made a leaping catch for the second out. Blanco then retired Ramón Urías to end the inning and leave Mullins stranded.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Jake Bloss, who made his major league debut Friday night, was placed on the injured list with right shoulder discomfort.

ROSTER MOVES

Astros: RHP Nick Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday night. ... LHP Bryan King was selected to the MLB roster and RHP Luis Contreras was recalled from Sugar Land on Saturday. … RHP Alex Speas was designated for assignment.

UP NEXT

Houston LHP Framber Valdez (5-5, 3.91 ERA) opposes RHP Albert Suárez (3-1, 2.05) in the series finale Sunday.

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