That was the greatest Houston Texans game I’ve ever seen.
The Houston Texans spanked none only than the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, and we have entered a new era in Houston sports. The hype was building steadily up until this point, but now the floodgates are open. This victory was a revelation for Houston faithful, a success that resounded around the skyscrapers of Houston, echoed across every square mile of Harris County, reverberated through all of Texas, and was heard across the entire world. The Houston Texans are back, and they’re led by one of the best rookie quarterbacks in NFL history: C.J. Stroud.
CJ Stroud looks like the GENERATIONAL pick of this decade!— BallTalkSource (@BallTalkSource) October 2, 2023
The guy has the poise to be GREAT!
#Texans QB CJ Stroud is the second QB in NFL history with no interceptions in each of his first four career starts (minimum 30 attempts in each game).— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 2, 2023
Stroud on the season so far: 94/151 (62.3%), 1,212 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs
Arrow pointing up for Texans fans. pic.twitter.com/fuFh5Ta8ai
C.J. Stroud had a commendable first game in the NFL, then had a good game in the home opener vs. the Indianapolis Colts, then had a great game in his first win vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars, and THEN had a fantastic, MVP-worthy performance against the Steelers. These were his first four NFL games ever and he’s already got media analysts spinning as they board the hype train.
Think about it: if I were to tell you a quarterback completed 16 passes for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns against the STEELERS DEFENSE, what quarterback comes to mind? Joe Burrow? Dak Prescott? Jalen Hurts? Well, so far this season, all three of these quarterbacks are putting up worse (yes, worse) stats than C.J. Stroud! Stroud is currently third among starting quarterbacks in yards per attempt (8.0), ninth in passer rating (100.6), and 14th in PFF offense grade (73.3)
This is an unthinkable, jaw-dropping performance from Stroud given the circumstances. Plenty of new receivers, a brand new coaching staff, and an injury-riddled offensive line would provide just excuses to any passer in the league, but that hasn’t stopped Stroud from making the world take notice. And that’s not all: Stroud has also been joined by a defense similarly improving week after week at remarkable pace. Because it wasn’t good enough to just score a bunch of points on the Steelers, the Texans also proved they could put the clamps down on a choppy offense, and so the Steelers went into the doldrums as the Texans went flying high.
This calls for a dramatic reshuffling of every analysts’ power rankings. They will have no choice but to send Houston flying up the charts and send Pittsburgh crashing down. Here’s where everyone has the Houston Texans ranked after their dramatic Week 4 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
15. Houston Texans (2-2) (Last Week: 23)
Just like that, football fever is back in Houston, with two stunningly impressive wins following a pair of double-digit losses. DeMeco Ryans appears to have his team believing after the Texans’ first home victory since 2021. And why not? Rookie CB C.J. Stroud looks poised — making 151 straight throws without a pick to start his career — and dangerous, despite multiple starters on the offensive line (most notably Laremy Tunsil) being out. Houston controlled the clock with a stout run game and zero turnovers, freshening the defense to turn in its best performance of Ryans’ early tenure. You’d like to see the Texans avoid getting bogged down so much offensively in and near the red zone, but it’s hard to nitpick much after they beat Pittsburgh the way they did.
- Eric Edholm
20. Houston Texans (2-2) (Last Week: 28)
Week 4 ranking: 28
Defensive efficiency: 54.0 (17th)
Biggest issue on defense: Sacking the quarterback
The biggest issue for the Texans’ defense is its inability to get sacks. Houston is tied for the fifth-fewest sacks in the NFL with seven. The issue isn’t pressuring the quarterbacks, as the Texans have the third-highest pressure rate (44.4%). But they can’t turn pressure into sacks. The team leader is defensive end Jonathan Greenard with three sacks, and the pass rush showed potential against the Steelers, sacking their quarterback three times. If this unit wants to reach the next level, it must start making the big plays and sacking quarterbacks. — DJ Bien-Aime
- DJ Bien-Aime
20. Houston Texans (2–2) (Last Week: 25)
Last week: win vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 30–6
Next week: at Atlanta
CJ Stroud made some incredible throws on Sunday, but let’s start talking about something else, and then circle back to the obvious. This defense is also opportunistic and aggressive. Jonathan Greenard is a great speed rusher and is on pace for his best season in the NFL. We’ve always been a fan, but now the rest of the league will start catching on. DeMeco Ryans makes me feel like we may soon see an era in the NFL where nearly every coach is a former player.
- Conor Orr
18. Houston Texans (2-2)
Last Week: 29
Week 4 Result: Won vs. Pittsburgh 30-6
So, about this C.J. Stroud kid.
Over the first four weeks of their first seasons, Stroud has clearly been the best of this year’s first-year signal-callers. The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in September kept right on rolling in Week 4, throwing for 306 yards and two scores as the Texans routed the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Yes, you read that right—the Houston Texans beat the brakes off the Steelers.
Young wideout Nico Collins was the main beneficiary of Stroud’s handiwork Sunday, hauling in seven passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. He told reporters after the game that from what he’s seen, Stroud is only getting started.
“Dude is ballin’,” Collins said. “The work he puts in every day, you can tell. It shows up in prime time and it’s only going to get better for him.”
Now, a couple victories don’t instantly make the Texans playoff contenders. But with young players like Stroud, Collins and linebacker Henry To’oTo’o playing well, the Texans have something they haven’t had in a while–momentum.
And if the Texans can beat the Falcons in Atlanta next week, Houston will be something it hasn’t been since Week 1 of the 2021 season—above .500.
“Stroud is special, folks” Sobleski opined. “This year’s second overall draft pick is getting better every week. He’s overcoming the Texans’ shortcomings, particularly a ramshackle offense line. Most importantly, the quarterback is helping lead his team to wins. The Texans have now won two in a row after losing the first two. Stroud’s 1,212 passing yards are the second-most ever (behind Cam Newton) through a quarterback’s first four starts. Each week, the Texans must be thanking the Carolina Panthers for passing on Stroud in favor of Bryce Young.”
- Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski
Talk about a leap forward! The Houston Texans leapt double digits up a few writer’s power rankings, and had so much positive movement in these four power rankings that their average was +8. They literally leapt over a quarter of all NFL teams. If that isn’t a sign of a breakthrough performance, I don’t know what is.
Both Eric Edholm of NFL.com and Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated reference the defense as one of the great surprises. Nobody expected this defense to hold Pittsburgh to just two field goals, but with defensive end Jonathan Greenard blossoming into a premier pass rusher (just in time for free agency in 2024), apparently the sky is limit.
This was another Texans game that really felt over before it had started. But, for the first time in years - or maybe ever - I can say that this is good news. For the first time, I get to say the Texans did NOT falter, and did NOT make a preponderance of errors in the first quarter, but instead took advantage of errors by the opponent, scored early, and put the game away! This game might have felt suspenseful to the battle tested in battle red, but it was OVER, and the Houston finally got to celebrate a well-deserved, franchise altering victory.
Next week, the red-hot Houston Texans travel to Atlanta, Georgia to face the Atlanta Falcons in Megatron’s but--err…I mean Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta has had a hard time getting their offense off the ground - something Texans fans finally can’t relate to - but has found success with their own rookie first round selection, running back Bijan Robinson. Houston’s defensive line had a game for the ages last week, and they’ll need to keep it going to counter Robinson. Although, if C.J. Stroud can keep up this ridiculous streak, plenty of points will come either way.