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Top 7 Plays from Texans superstar QB C.J. Stroud

What are the best seven plays this season from the Texans rookie quarterback?

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Cleveland Browns v Houston Texans Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

Have you heard of this C.J. Stroud guy? Maybe you haven’t seen the thirty or forty other articles that have recently been published about C.J. Stroud, but he’s ... kind of a big deal.

A really big deal.

He’s such a big deal, Snoop Dogg had to come out of the woodwork to bless us with the “…he has always been the underdog but turned into the wonderdog.” If you have Snoop Dogg saying things like that about you, you must be pretty famous.

Since the Houston Texans touched down as the 32nd NFL franchise in 2002, they have been on the search for a game-changing quarterback. There have many quarterbacks to file through those battle red doors, and several good ones at that, too (Matt Schaub, anybody? *ducks*). But, entering their 22nd season in the league, they were at square one yet again, putting all their chips into the new rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud. A big gamble it was, and it has paid OFF. Like it really paid off. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a risk pay off so handsomely in my life.

At the end of the 2023 regular season, Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud had amassed 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 100.8. In his first year in the NFL, he threw just five interceptions and finished with a passer rating over 100 as a team’s starting quarterback. These words aren’t really supposed to go together. Even in a time of titans such as Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. C.J. Stroud has already gained some reputation as a potential long-term challenger to the AFC throne. Heck, he’s got a chance to get to the summit this season!

It’s all just a miracle. Stroud is such an unbelievable talent, that you start to get restless waiting for him to play again. When searching for film of Stroud in a Texans uniform, highlight videos become extremely valuable. And since he’s one of the best rookie quarterbacks of all time, there’s plenty of those to go around.

In fact, Stroud has so many highlights, that it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. So, in dedication to QB7, I have made this post highlighting my top seven plays by C.J. Stroud this season. These might not necessarily be his top seven plays overall, but they are plays that I believe reveal him as a true superstar, and will do a good job at hyping you up for tomorrow’s game vs. the Baltimore Ravens.

Without further ado, here is my Top seven plays by C.J. Stroud:

#7: 1st & 10 at CLE 46 (Wild Card Round 2023-24 Postseason):

C. Stroud Pass Deep Right to J. Metchie ran ob at CLV 19 for 27 Yards:

We’re kicking off this list with his most recent game, where C.J. Stroud threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns, but no passes were more impressive than this one. Stroud hangs in the pockets, subtly navigates and crumbling pocket by sidestepping to the right, flicks his wrist at the exact right moment to get the ball away on time, right into the hands of an open John Metchie. Stroud makes plays like this all the time, but this one is particularly impressive since it highlights his sixth sense for feeling pressure in the pocket, which goes hand-in-hand with his ability to throw off-platform. If you’ve watched J.T. O’Sullivan’s analyses of Stroud recently, you’ll know he loves to gush over these kind of plays. “He makes it look so easy. Too easy, in fact.” The more I hear people say Stroud makes it look easy, the more I realize this is a generational quarterback.

#6: 3rd & 15 at HOU 14 (Week 12 v. JAX):

C. Stroud pass deep middle to T. Dell to JAX 24 for 62 yards. HST-T. Howard was injured during the play. He is Out. PENALTY on HST-T.Dell, Illegal Shift, 5 yards, enforced at HOU 14 - No Play.

Even though this would not end up counting as a completion because of the penalty, it absolutely should have been. A silly illegal shift call on rookie receiver Tank Dell washed away one of the best plays he and Stroud made in their rookie seasons where both appeared unstoppable. This is a perfect example of how they were so exciting before Dell’s injury. Stroud has been in numerous third & longs this season, usually attributed to poor rushing plays, flags on the offensive line, or a combination of both. It’s hard to ask your rookie quarterback to dig you out of these positions so frequently, but Stroud has shown that third down won’t scare him away from the big play. He launches this thing at the Houston five-yard line, and Tank Dell comes down with it at the Jacksonville 24! I mean, if this was a punt we would’ve thought it was impressive. Stroud even underthrew it a bit, but Dell had beaten his man so bad that he was able to slow up and reel it in. It’s not just these big passes that are impressive to me, though, it’s how fast he can get that ball out. Stroud has an exceptionally fast arms, and his throwing motion, even with desperation throws, provides little time for defenders to get ahold of him.

#5: 3rd & 6 at JAX 17 (Week 12 v JAX):

C. Stroud pass short middle to N. Collins for 17 yards, touchdown.

This is one of my favorites. The other pass I highlighted from this game is fantastic, but this pass just gives me more confidence in Stroud the more I watch it. You can see his aforementioned sixth sense telling him when to escape out of the pocket, buying time behind the line of scrimmage again. But, like some sort of magician, he seems to know exactly when and where to get rid of the football. He keeps his eyes downfield whilst jogging forward, waits until Jaguars linebacker Foyesade Oluokun makes a commitment to stop him, then fires the ball directly past the space Oluokun just made to Nico Collins for a touchdown. He’s not even a running quarterback, but his speed and decisiveness allowed him to basically make a triple-option play on the fly. Oluokun was stuck in no man’s land, doomed by a quarterback too fast to let go and too accurate to not cover.

Plays like this remind me of Patrick Mahomes - playing football like a shortstop in the backfield, using his deceptive agility to move defenders around to make open passing lanes that few other quarterbacks would even consider taking. Thanks his eyes and his arm, C.J. Stroud can make all kinds of magic happen with his legs, and he’s doing this as a rookie! He’s making opposing defenders look ridiculous as a rookie quarterback. I mean, if this is the floor of his abilities, I’d sure as hell love to see where the stratosphere the ceiling is.

#4: 1st & 10 at ARI 40 (Week 11 v ARI):

Tank Dell pass from C.J. Stroud for 40 yards, touchdown.

Name a quarterback who has a better scramble drill play than this. I dare you; not Patrick Mahomes, not Josh Allen, not Jalen Hurts, Matthew Stafford, or Lamar Jackson. This just showcases how strong the connection is between Tank Dell and C.J. Stroud, maybe the only two rookie teammates capable of a play like this that hadn’t played in college together beforehand. Stroud hangs in the pocket, feels the pressure and quickly boots out to the right side, easily evading the incoming rush. Tank Dell sees this, sees his quarterback telling him to go long, and immediately launches himself into the end zone, catching up to the football just in time to make an acrobatic touchdown catch right before halftime.

You know, last time I checked two rookies aren’t supposed to be this good. Isn’t the NFL supposed to filled with players far better than the collegiate competition? Aren’t they supposed to be really challenging C.J. Stroud and Tank Dell? Well, they haven’t yet, which is perfect for us since now we don’t have to wait for a good season. These rookies were so good, we were able to make the playoffs in their first year!

#3: 2nd & 14 at IND 30 (Week 18 @IND):

C. Stroud pass short right to N. Collins ran ob at IND 40 for 14 yards.

This one is just ridiculous. C.J. Stroud couldn’t have been closer to being sacked without being sacked; flailing, and running around backwards. Both Colts edge rushers had him contained and in a death spiral, getting me beyond worked up as I watched Stroud scramble his way into a third & forever. Then, he skipped back, set his feet, and fired towards the first down marker, attempting to throw the ball away and live for another down. Crisis averted.

But I was wrong! So slowly did that ball arc, reach its apex, then slowly descend down from the heavens into the arms of a diving Nico Collins, causing my house and heart to erupt in pure joy. I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe that pass was not being thrown away, but targeting a receiver, and actually becoming a completed pass. It felt like that ball was hanging up there FOREVER. But, somehow, someway, C.J. Stroud finds a new method of getting a first down. Sometimes, it’s just fun to gawk at the amazing talent and athleticism these players possess. There’s nothing like going from complete despair to complete elation in the span of just one pass.

#2: 1st & 10 at HOU 25 (Week 18 @IND):

C. Stroud pass deep middle to N. Collins for 75 yards, touchdown.

Oh my goodness. Talk about coming out and making a statement! Lucas Oil Stadium was shaking as C.J. Stroud took the field, creating a playoff atmosphere that they were hoping would carry their home team to victory. On the very first offensive snap, Stroud silenced the entire stadium. On the first offensive snap, C.J. Stroud launched one of the most beautiful, long, arcing passes I have ever seen straight into the face of a sprinting Nico Collins, who went untouched into the end zone, taking an early lead that Houston would never give up. Just an unreal first play of the game for Houston. This is what scouts are talking about when they say they’re looking for a quarterback that can go to the end-zone off of the first offensive snap. Offensive coaches want a quarterback that can threaten to throw a touchdown pass from anywhere on the field, forcing defenses to stretch themselves out regardless of where the offense is located on the field. C.J. Stroud is what they are always looking for. It’s what everyone is looking for, but now that Stroud is with the Texans, we aren’t!

#1: 1st & 10 at TB 15 (Week 9 v. TB):

C. Stroud pass short middle to T. Dell for 15 yards, touchdown.

This had to be #1. This is one of the most exciting plays I have ever seen in my life. One of the best plays in Houston Texans history. Heck, it’s one of the best plays in NFL history! A rookie quarterback starting for a formerly destitute franchise, bringing them back into the limelight one big game at a time, donning his Superman cape once again to do the impossible - and actually doing it? Being asked to score 39 points, throw for 470 yards and five(5!) touchdowns on 30 attempts? Oh, and the last one is gonna have to come quickly because your defense just gave up its fourth touchdown of the day with just 46 seconds left. Against a not-too-shabby Tampa Bay defense, too. And it’s your first year, with multiple first-year players around you, and a first-year head coach.

You couldn’t have written a better script in Hollywood! You couldn’t have asked for a better performance, or a more unlikely performance. This isn’t Patrick Mahomes coming back into a game with the help of Travis Kelce and Andy Reid, this is the very first time most of these Texans players have ever been in such an NFL game. You couldn’t have asked for more evidence that C.J. Stroud is the franchise quarterback. This pass was the moment he became a Houston legend. There will be stories told about this pass for generations. Among friends, classmates, parents, coworkers, fans, and everyone else in between, this story will spread far and wide and to all who would bend their ear. This play will follow C.J. Stroud for the rest of his life, and it has changed everything.

What do you think of my list? Did I get all of C.J. Stroud’s best throws? That was a trick question, I did not get all of his best throws, because there’s at least one every game that could have made this list. So, please share with us all of your favorite C.J. Stroud plays, moments, memes, or anything else related to him, because there is no way I could compile it all on this list. There’s just so much good that has already come out of this quarterback, you might as well spread it around!