HOUSTON — When the Houston Texans selected quarterback C.J. Stroud in the 2023 NFL draft, they knew what type of player they were getting on and off the field.
Stroud has a strong support system, with his family supporting him every step of the way during his rise from the high school ranks at Rancho Cucamonga High School, the college level at Ohio State, and now his start to his NFL career with the Texans.
Stroud, 21, starts every press conference by professing his love for Jesus Christ and being thankful for the opportunity to be who he is, which is a leader that many players have no problem going.
“Wherever C.J. [Stroud] is going, I am following because I know the type of person he is, and he is on the path to success,” said wide receiver Nico Collins. “That’s where I and many of my teammates want to be. C.J. has an attitude that he cannot fail because he has so many people depending on him to be great.”
Stroud could not lead his team to victory on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium as they fell short by a score of 31-20. He had his best day as an NFL quarterback, completing 63.8% (30-for-47) of his passes for 384 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second consecutive game of completing over 25 passes in a game. He has thrown for a combined 626 yards on the season, which ranks him in the top five, but he has come up short of getting a victory for Houston.
The pressure put on such a high draft pick could be frightening to some, but not Stroud, who thrives when the odds are stacked against him.
“I think people are depending on me, and I love that responsibility,” Stroud said in his postgame press conference on Sunday. “‘E’ [Everet Greelings-Texans Football Communications Manager] was just talking to me about how pressure is a privilege. A lot of people don’t get to live the life I do. It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard, but it’s a privilege. I’m blessed enough to wake up every day to walk, to talk, to smell, to interact with people, to play football.”
Things have been tough for the former two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist as he tries to get acclimated to playing without three starters on the offensive line. Before the game started, Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil was ruled out with a lingering knee injury that bothered him all week.
“This is the NFL. It's the best players in the world every week, you know what I mean?,” said Texans QB C.J. Stroud when asked about the offensive line. “So, I definitely appreciate those guys, because they're fighting, they're not just giving up.” #Texans #Sarge @TheTexansWire pic.twitter.com/U4Fit9BXmy
— #SARGE (@BigSargeSportz) September 18, 2023
Stroud was sacked six times by the vaunted Colts front seven on Sunday. Combine that with the five given up in Week 1 against the Ravens, and Stroud has found himself getting helped up off the field 11 times, which is the most among starting quarterbacks. Yet, he will not blame the offense’s struggles on the linemen’s constant rotation.
“You’ve got to trust those guys, and I do,” said Stroud. “It’s just a consistent fight every play. I’m up for the challenge, and those guys are too. I appreciate those guys. Even Kendrick [Green], he comes in, and he’s been here two weeks, and he’s fighting his tail off. This is a whole new offense for him. Same thing with George [Fant]. Like Shaq [Mason] was our only starter. Like ‘J.P.’ [Jarrett Patterson] didn’t play at all last year really and was a really good center in college, but this isn’t college, and he’s playing against a really good defensive line two weeks in a row, and he’s fighting his tail off.”
“Josh [Jones] was at guard last week. He moved to left tackle. That’s a hard thing to do. This is the NFL. It’s the best players in the world every week, you know what I mean? So, I definitely appreciate those guys because they’re fighting; they’re not just giving up. It’s easy to put your head down in this league and just turn around and just do whatever, but those guys constantly are looking me in the eye like, man, I got you, and I appreciate that. I love those boys, and I’m going to keep fighting for them because they’re fighting for me.”
It will be another hard test for the Texans’ offense in Week 3 as they head to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars, who have been predicted to win the AFC South.