NFL Rumors: C.J. Stroud Expected to Be Texans’ QB1 Despite Struggles vs. Patriots

NFL Rumors: C.J. Stroud Expected to Be Texans’ QB1 Despite Struggles vs. Patriots
Adam WellsAugust 11, 2023

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) is sacked by New England Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale (95) during the first half of an NFL pre-season football game, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)

AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper

A rough preseason debut against the New England Patriots isn’t going to change C.J. Stroud’s status as the likely Week 1 starter for the Houston Texans when the regular season begins.

Appearing on SportsCenter on Friday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano said the “expectation” is Stroud is going to remain the No. 1 quarterback on Houston’s depth chart unless he looks totally overmatched in the preseason.

“My understanding is that the expectation is still that he’ll be the No. 1 quarterback when the season opens unless he looks completely overwhelmed throughout the preseason,” Graziano said. “And while obviously the interception stands out, I don’t think he looked completely overwhelmed last night.”

Stroud was only on the field for Houston’s first two offensive possessions on Thursday night. He was picked off by Jalen Mills on the opening drive after appearing to hesitate before trying to throw to Tank Dell.

NFL @NFL

Jalen Mills intercepts CJ Stroud on the opening drive!

📺: #HOUvsNE on @NFLNetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/bBFpXewtKp pic.twitter.com/n0mO9fFwYJ

The No. 2 pick in the 2023 draft finished the game 2-of-4 for 13 yards and one interception. He was also sacked once for a 15-yard loss.

It certainly wasn’t a standout performance for Stroud, but it’s not like he’s the first quarterback who has struggled against a Bill Belichick defense.

Even in a preseason setting, the Patriots boast an extremely talented defense that is being coached by arguably the best head coach in NFL history. Frankly, it would have been a surprise if Stroud lit up the stat sheet under these circumstances.

Davis Mills did have some success when he took over. The 24-year-old went 9-of-12 for 99 yards, one touchdown and a turnover on a lost fumble.

After two years, though, the Texans know what Mills is as an NFL quarterback. He’s had some solid individual games, but has generally been a high-turnover player. The Stanford alum has 25 interceptions and four lost fumbles in 28 career games.

While there is more optimism in Houston this season with the arrival of DeMeco Ryans as head coach, there remains a lot of work to do with this roster before it becomes a playoff contender.

Stroud should be put in a good position to have some success as a rookie. The offensive line protecting him is solid, Dell showed tremendous promise against the Patriots with 65 yards and a touchdown, and the defense added a lot of talent in the draft, including No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson Jr., and free agency.

As long as Stroud is healthy and functional at the position, it’s in Houston’s best interest to let him get experience against NFL defenses to figure out how to succeed at this level.

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