Entering this season, many expected the Houston Texans to finish as one of the worst teams in the NFL. Fast forward four weeks, and the Texans (2-2) are slowly turning heads.
“The underdog mentality really brings out the true dogs,” Houston running back Damian Pierce recently told reporters.
After starting out with two consecutive losses, Houston has begun to find its rhythm. This recent success goes hand-in-hand with the performances of the team’s rookie quarterback.
C.J. Stroud stepped into the starting role in Houston with cautious optimism after being selected second overall in this year’s draft. While the talent was certainly there at Ohio State, some critics were skeptical that not only was it uncertain his success would translate to the NFL, but with a supporting cast that wasn’t dazzling it would be difficult to shine.
But the past three weeks, Stroud has been phenomenal and the Texans are winning games because of it.
Stroud has racked up 1,212 passing yards, the second-most yards through four starts to begin a career, trailing only Cam Newton's 1,386 yards.
And what might be more impressive than what he’s accomplished, is how he's done it.
Houston is missing three of its starting offensive linemen, Laremy Tunsil (LT), Josh Jones (LG), and Michael Deiter (C).
While Stroud has continued to face pressure, with the fourth-most hurries in the pocket this season (16), he has maintained his composure and has yet to throw an interception with six touchdowns.
It’s evident that the system in place for his skillset and the chemistry already formed with the receiving corps have created a much more explosive and cohesive offense than many anticipated.
“I think I’ve gotten a better chemistry and connection faster than I did back in school,” Stroud told reporters after Houston’s 30-6 victory over Pittsburgh.
Once Houston is fully healthy, this team can continue to slowly rebuild its winning culture behind their young and talented QB.
For now, Stroud and the Texans sit in first place in the AFC South and will play in Atlanta this upcoming Sunday.