HOUSTON — Following the Houston Texans‘ 17-13 win in their preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints, coach DeMeco Ryans announced quarterback C.J. Stroud will be the Texans’ Week 1 starter against the Baltimore Ravens.
“It was definitely a blessing, something that I think I worked for and definitely earned,” Stroud said. “At the same time, nothing else really changes. Still going to work like the way I’m working but even more now. I’m blessed enough to be able to be a starter, so young in this league, which isn’t the easiest thing to do. But I know my coaches have trust and faith in me, so I’ll go out there and do my best.”
The Texans were the last team in the NFL to name their starter, but Ryans’ reasoning to crown Stroud the starter stemmed from what he’s seen since Stroud was drafted, as well as his desire to improve.
“It’s been over the course of the entire process of OTAs, training camp preseason games, just seeing the complete product and knowing CJ’s desire to continue to better,” Ryans said after the win.
The No. 2 pick started each preseason game and went 11-of-18 for 89 yards with one touchdown and one interception in eight series.
Capturing the starting role for Stroud was the expected outcome as, in most instances, quarterbacks drafted in the top five commonly start Week 1 of their rookie season. Since the 2011 NFL collective bargaining agreement, 11 of the 17 quarterbacks selected in the top five started Week 1.
Stroud entered training camp in a quarterback competition against Davis Mills as both split reps with the starting offense to begin training camp.
But after a week of practice, Stroud separated himself, and Ryans gave the rookie quarterback all the first-team reps.
The Texans ranked 31st in QBR (33.3) in the past two seasons and went 7-26-1. The struggles on the field led them to select Stroud, hoping he could become the franchise quarterback they’ve been searching for since trading former quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Stroud will debut against a Ravens team featuring the 2019 MVP in quarterback Lamar Jackson and a defense that finished third in scoring defense (18.5 per game) in 2022.
Since 2011, rookie quarterbacks drafted in the top five and started Week 1 are 4-6-1 with a 59% completion percentage, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.