It is time for a change. For the first half of the season, we have looked at the good, the bad, and the ugly from the previous Sunday’s game. For the second week in a row it has become difficult to find a bad and an ugly. So, we are scrapping the ugly and replacing it with a great. That seems a lot more fair given the fact that the Houston Texans just defeated a legitimate Super Bowl contender on the road.
Obviously, there will always be concerns in any win. We will cover those in the bad column. Yet, it was another gutsy victory in a hard fought game. There are a lot of accolades and games ball to go around. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Time of Possession
The Texans lost only one category. There will be more on that later. It should be noted that the sacks were included in the number of pass plays. So, Stroud averaged 8.9 yards per drop back. Those are ridiculous numbers. Burrow averaged a more pedestrian 7.1 yards per dropback. He was still very good overall, but not quite as good as Stroud. When you can outduel a franchise quarterback it is another good day.
It is time for me to eat some crow and start a difficult conversation. First, the crow. This running attack and Devin Singletary in particular was really good. He had 150 yards on 30 carries. They still struggled a little on first down carries, but they did enough to control the clock and provide enough of a counterbalance to allow Stroud to do his thing.
Now, the difficult part. Has Dameon Pierce lost his starting gig? Singletary appears to be more of a scheme fit when you take into account that he is also a better receiver out of the backfield. 150 yards is a bit aggressive of an expectation, but the Bengals were surrendering five yards a carry going in. If the Texans can simply be average (simply matching what each defense usually gives) they could be a really dangerous team in the last eight games.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The defense is not a great defense. You don’t give up that many points and that many yards when you’re great. However, nearly seven of those were a give away because of Stroud’s second interception. They got two key interceptions of their own in the fourth quarter and had four key sacks. Put together the offensive and defensive performances and it shouldn’t have been a close game. Of course, that moves us into the next segment.
The toughest thing in the world is dealing with a lead against a team like the Bengals. Sure, no one likes to be behind by multiple touchdowns, but at least then the decisions become easier. When you are ahead there is that delicate balance between being aggressive and turtling. If the Texans do nothing but run the ball on the third down in the fourth quarter and that game becomes a lot easier. They punt the ball and make the Bills drive the length of the field. Twice.
When you have that next third down you don’t throw a low percentage ball down the sideline. Those two plays almost cost the Texans the game. The good news is they didn’t. The good news is that Bobby Slowik and C.J. Stroud can learn from those plays following a win. A team that won only 11 games in three seasons isn’t going to have a ton of experience in those situations. They are all learning at this point.
As promised, we won’t be comparing Stroud to his rookie class anymore. With back to back great weeks it is time to look at a different list. Some people have compared him with the other MVP candidates in the league. Crazy? Well, let’s assume a quarterback is winning. If we combine rushing and passing yards along with the other pertinent categories Take notice of where Stroud ranks with these big names.
Patrick Mahomes— 2700 total yards, 17 TD, 8 INT, 7.3 YPA, 96.7 rating
C.J. Stroud— 2712 total yards, 17 TD, 2 INT, 8.3 YPA, 101.0 rating
Tua Tagoviola— 2642 total yards, 19 TD, 7 INT, 8.5 YPA, 106.4 rating
Jalen Hurts— 2663 total yards, 22 TD, 8 INT, 7.7 YPA, 99.5 rating
Lamar Jackson— 2658 total yards, 15 TD, 5 INT, 7.9 YPA, 98.1 rating
Some people would add Brock Purdy to the conversation. Others might add Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, or Justin Herbert. Those are all good quarterbacks and there is a ton of season left to play. Stroud is first in total yards, first in fewest turnovers, second in yards per attempt, and second in quarterback rating amongst this group. Suddenly, such talk isn’t so crazy.