Despite a challenging preseason debut against the formidable New England Patriots, C.J. Stroud’s status as the probable Week 1 starter for the Houston Texans remains unchanged. ESPN’s Dan Graziano shared on SportsCenter that there is an ‘expectation’ for Stroud to maintain the top spot on the Texans’ quarterback depth chart, unless he appears completely overmatched during the preseason.
Graziano added that while the interception stands out, Stroud didn’t seem entirely overwhelmed in his performance. During Thursday night’s game, Stroud had limited playing time, being on the field only for Houston’s first two offensive possessions.
On the opening drive, he was intercepted by Jalen Mills after hesitating before attempting to throw to Tank Dell. Overall, Stroud completed 2 of 4 passes for 13 yards with one interception and was sacked once, resulting in a 15-yard loss.
Although Stroud’s performance wasn’t outstanding, it’s important to note that he’s not the first quarterback to struggle against a Bill Belichick defense, even in a preseason setting. The New England Patriots possess an exceptionally talented defense led by arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history.
Given these circumstances, it would have been surprising for Stroud to have an extraordinary stat line. However, Davis Mills, who took over after Stroud, did find some success. The 24-year-old completed 9 of 12 passes for 99 yards, one touchdown, and had a turnover on a lost fumble.
The Houston Texans have had ample time to evaluate Mills, and while he has shown promise in certain games, he has also been prone to turnovers. Throughout his 28 career games, the Stanford alumnus has thrown 25 interceptions and lost four fumbles.
Although there is a sense of optimism in Houston due to the arrival of head coach DeMeco Ryans, the team still has much to improve on before becoming a playoff contender. However, Stroud, as a rookie, should have the opportunity to succeed.
He has a capable offensive line to protect him, and Tank Dell displayed great promise against the Patriots, accumulating 65 yards and a touchdown.
Additionally, the defense has added significant talent through the draft, including the third overall pick, Will Anderson Jr., as well as through free agency.
It is in the Texans’ best interest to allow Stroud to gain experience against NFL defenses and learn how to succeed at this level, provided he remains healthy and functional in his role
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