QB C.J. Stroud unable to lift Texans past Colts despite monster performance

Houston, we have a quarterback.

It was a day that was otherwise filled with complete disappointment. The Houston Texans home opener was quickly drained of all enthusiasm when Indianapolis rookie Anthony Richardson opened with a quick two touchdowns on the ground to take a 14-0 lead. Truthfully, very little improved throughout the course of the afternoon as Houston lost a winnable game to the division rival Indianapolis Colts 31-20.

Everyone in attendance or watching at home, however, did walk away with an important takeaway. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud appears very much deserving of his draft selection.

The second overall selection from the 2023 NFL draft completed 30 of his 47 attempts for 384 yards and his first two career touchdowns after he was held scoreless the week prior in Baltimore. This included finding third-year wide receiver Nico Collins early and often as the duo connected seven times for 146 receiving yards and a first quarter touchdown.

Stroud and the offense struggled to find the end zone again until the fourth quarter. However, he finally did link up with fellow rookie Tank Dell with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to close the lead to 31-20. Dell finished with 7 receptions for 72 yards and one score.

All these results came within the context of Houston missing four out of five of their original projected starting offensive line entering the season. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil was declared inactive, right tackle Tytus Howard and center Juice Scruggs are on four-week injured reserve, and 2022 first-round pick Kenyon Green is set to miss the entire season.

This showed in a big way during the game as Stroud was sacked a stunning six times. Of those six sacks, five of them came without blitzing any additional defenders at the quarterback. It’s a number that offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik will certainly hopes improves as Tunsil, Howard and Scruggs return to the starting lineup.

Stroud deserves an enormous amount of credit in the loss. He joined Kyler Murray as the only quarterbacks to complete over 25 passes in their first two career starts. He had the most passing yards in a game since Deshaun Watson in 2019. He flashed the mature decision making, accuracy, poise, and mobility that everyone hoped for when Houston selected him second overall.

The only thing Stroud couldn’t seem to do on Sunday was will his defense to make a stop. The Texans will need to put together a more complete effort next Sunday if they hope to topple the division favorite Jacksonville Jaguars.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire