Stroud makes first regular season game debut

Written by MAi' Ghen Storm | Photo credit: Brian Barefield

Baltimore, MA--On Sunday, the Houston Texans' CJ Stroud made his debut in his first NFL game of the 2023 regular season. Stroud faced the Baltimore Ravens on the road after a preseason rollercoaster. 

Stroud made a promising start in a game where the odds were stacked against him. In spite of Juice Scruggs, Kenyon Green, and Tytus Howard being injured, Baltimore had 19 pressures on Houston's offensive line. Houston's staff made the interesting decision to substitute Michael Deiter at right tackle when George Fant went down, which was his only turnover of the game. Unsurprisingly, he suffered a drop in passer rating under pressure.

On each of Houston's three field goal attempts, Stroud led long drives down the field and looked like the rhythmic, accurate passer that was advertised leaving Ohio State. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, 18.2% of his pass attempts were through tight windows, and Stroud was not afraid to utilize the pinpoint precision that led him to be the second overall pick.

Nico Collins (six catches, 80 yards) and Robert Woods (six catches, 57 yards) were frequently targeted by the former Buckeye. Other than that, no Houston player received more than four targets.

Leaving Ohio State, Stroud's mobility was a major concern, but he began to alleviate those concerns on Sunday. Without his ability to escape the pocket and target his receivers down the field, Baltimore would have ended up with a higher sack count.

The offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik appeared to trust Stroud to carry a major load during this performance. Despite being unable to develop longer plays, the team wasn't afraid to pass in any situation.

It is likely that this will be the only moral victory the offense will celebrate this season. In next week's game against the Indianapolis Colts, Stroud must build on the promising aspects of his performance.

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