Happy Friday one and all.
1. C.J. Stroud looks like the real deal, and likely has surpassed fans expectations for his rookie season. Talk a little bit about the early returns, and how getting Stroud could potentially get the franchise back to competing.
Obviously no one could predict Stroud’s success. The biggest surprise has been the week to week growth. He just doesn’t make the same mistakes other rookies make. If you had told me he’d only have two picks through nine games I’d have said you were nuts. I didn’t think he’d do much with these receivers, but I’ve obviously been wrong. Simply put, he keeps you in every game. When they’ve lost it’s usually because they limited what he could do. They aren’t likely to do that anymore.
2. DeMeco Ryans has been excellent in year one, what are the things he has changed the most for the Texans and the culture?
I’d say the biggest thing DeMeco has brought is an identity. David Culley and Lovie Smith are nice guys but they didn’t bring a discernible culture or identity. That has allowed them to play numerous guys and get very similar results. Culturally, they believe in being aggressive and hitting hard. It’s one of those things that builds over time.
3. Are you surprised the offense is ahead of the defense? Or is that just part of the Stroud effect?
The biggest surprise has been the supporting cast. I actually was cautiously optimistic on Stroud, but just didn’t like the receivers he was throwing to outside of Tank Dell. Nico Collins has been a revelation which probably speaks to how bad the offensive staff was before Bobby Slowik. Noah Brown has been huge the last three weeks with over 300 yards receiving. Adding them to Dalton Schultz gives Stroud a surprisingly diverse group of targets to work with. The running game has been worse than what we thought, but they succeeded last week, so maybe that is turning around.
4. Give me a name on offense or defense that Arizona Cardinals fans may not know.
On defense, the unsung hero has been Blake Cashman. He was a holdover from last year and he just played on special teams. He has been the number one linebacker in football the last several weeks according to PFF. Steven Nelson is another guy having a Pro Bowl season this year. Both players were holdovers from last season, so they are just another sign of what competence does. I mentioned Noah Brown on offense. He has been very explosive in the past three games and is becoming a nice down the field target for Stroud.
Xavier Hutchinson is usually good for one or two jet sweeps a game. Otherwise, most of the guys are known after the past few games.
5. The over/under is 47.5 according to DraftKings Sportsbook, can the Texans hold down the Cardinals enough to keep the under, since I am assuming they do more than enough on their end to get there.
The Texans have struggled against athletic quarterbacks this season. I’d take the over as I am fairly confident they get to 25 to 30 points on their own. I have no idea how good Kyler Murray will be in his second game back. If he is sharp this could be a surprisingly interesting game. The Texans generally play a bend but don’t break style of defense. They are trying to get quarterbacks to make mistakes due to their impatience. It will be a balance between that and Murray breaking a play or two with his legs. I will go out on a limb and go 28-20 Texans which puts me just over.