The excitement throughout the game as documented by the Hair of the Dog streamed into the post-game buzz throughout the sports world. Well, at least Houston Texans fans were excited. The potential pivot point of the rebuild process possibly occurred last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The focal point of it all was rookie QB C.J. Stroud, whose statistical dominance matched his on the field performance.
So much so that it brought about our Groupthink of the week.
Instant reactions for CJ Stroud and Houston’s most dominant win in years. What excited you the most about today’s fantastic performance?
We have a franchise quarterback and a deadly combination in Stroud to Dell. There is so much to be excited about for this team now I can barely believe I’m saying this. For the first time since, I want to say 2016, I have hope for this team. Real, unvarnished hope.
In one respect, it probably shouldn’t be so shocking that Houston won….this is their sixth straight road victory against Jacksonville (2019’s Jacksonville Game was their annual home game in London). They’ve won more games in Jacksonville (2) the past two seasons, than at home (0). Obviously, Stroud and the passing attack will get the headlines, but I think that Frank Ross continues to prove that he’s got something with the special teams. Perhaps the Beck TD was flukeish, and the team did allow a bad return to Jacksonville to start the second half. But you saw how bad the special teams were for Jacksonville in comparison. Houston’s special teams, between a back-up punter, solid kick coverage, Anderson’s FG block and Fairbarin being a reliable scoring option, bode well for the rest of the season as the offense and defense look to grow and evolve.
I have really two immediate reactions. First, it is so refreshing to see a coaching staff take the available talent and put it to its best use. Make no mistake, we were the less-talented team on that field and it showed for most of the day. If we play that same way again with the same players we might not win again. The Jaguars made a lot of mistakes and we can’t ignore that. Still, a lot of winning happens in this league when you just get out of the way and let the other team shoot themselves in the foot. Secondly, there were a number of points in this game where I felt like the onslaught would happen. If you look at the HOTD feature you could see those points where each of us thought the Jags would take over (the HOTD is good for more than just good snark). The Texans stepped up and made plays every time. Will Andrew Beck score a touchdown on a broken play on a kickoff ever again? I seriously doubt it, but he did it today. Does Tank Dell get so wide open that he seems lost on a 68 yard score ever again? I seriously doubt it, but he did it today. Winning teams make plays. Losing teams don’t make plays. It’s really just that simple.
That. Felt. Good. Stroud still hasn’t thrown an interception yet. Considering that was a massive issue in the preseason, it’s commendable to finally see a QB grow throughout the process. I think that was my least favorite thing about Davis Mills; he plateaued before he even stepped foot in the building. He never took strides and improved. Stroud will inevitably hit his rookie wall, but right now he needs to absorb all of the confidence and optimism that emits from this stretch of performance. Houston doesn’t win this without a talented QB, even if special teams played a huge factor in the game. Houston does need to work on its red zone offense a bit, but golly gee that’s a far cry from the complaints from the past two seasons.
What excited me the most about the game was the immediate responses. Every time Jacksonville slightly crawled back into the game we stuffed more points down their throat. That bomb to Tank Dell is a product of an unrelenting offense and an exhausted defense. That’s the culmination of cracking the code of a defense and them succumbing under the pressure of having to be perfect.
Huge win. Honestly, huge relief from all the losing. Long road ahead, but this week we will all walk a little easier in Houston.