Today begins the hard work of the offseason and looking at the roster position by position. We start with arguably the most important position on the roster and that is the quarterback. We could run through options and things like that, but first thing is first. We need to look at the current guys and what they brought this year. In most cases, the guys will be the same and we will just look at improvement.
C.J. Stroud — 4,108 passing yards, 8.2 Y/A, 23 TD, 5 INT, 63.9%, 100.8 Rating
Backups — 464 passing yards, 5.0 Y/A, 3 TD, 3 INT, 56.5%, 68.0 Rating
Obviously, these numbers demonstrate how much better Stroud is than the other two guys. There are two separate questions as it pertains to our quarterbacks, The first question is where Stroud ranks amongst the other marquee quarterbacks in the NFL. We could simply look at numbers like touchdown percentage, interception percentage, passer rating, and yards per attempt.
8.2 Yards per attempt (third)
100.8 Rating (sixth)
273.9 yards per game (first)
4.6 TD PCT (12th)
1.0 INT PCT (first)
57.6 QBR (16th)
If we were to do a qualitative ranking we would likely rank him behind Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Brock Purdy, and probably Jalen Hurts. He would roughly be on the same level as Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagovailoa. We could argue one way or the other, but that seems to be a reasonable ranking of where he is at.
Usually rookies need to work on cutting down turnovers, but that hasn’t been Stroud’s problem. He probably takes too many sacks (38 which was the eighth most for individual quarterbacks). That could be due to holding the ball too long, a porous offensive line, or receivers not getting open. Either way, you could easily claim he performed like a top ten quarterback.
The Backup Question
We can start simple and move to more complex questions here. The Houston Texans need to get better in this department. The numbers above are pretty clear on this. They did go 1-1 in their two games and I suppose if a backup keeps the team afloat in their starts then that is about as much as you could expect. Still, there were too many instances of lesser quarterbacks around the league experiencing success.
The question moving forward at every spot is going to be what level of investment you are willing to make. 75-80 million dollars is a lot of money to spend, but that money gets soaked up pretty quickly when you add premium players at multiple positions. Can they afford to get a top notch backup quarterback? Should that even be a priority for the next season?
We should start by evaluating our priorities. This season we wanted veteran leadership to help Stroud develop. Case Keenum was perfect for that and performed his job well. I’m still not sure what purpose Davis Mills served this season except that he is on a rookie deal and was fairly affordable. Moving forward, neither guy really makes less sense given where this team wants to go.
Simply put, we need someone that can hold down the spot if Stroud has to miss time. Those numbers above aren’t good enough to win most games and that is particularly true when you look at what the offense is likely to be. Obviously, we will look at guys that fit the likely budget and evaluate them later, but we should start by saying thank you to both Case Keenum and Davis Mills.
Mills served as a crash test dummy for this team. Yes, we poke fun at him and some would call us haters, but he was never going to be successful. Maybe he would have had a shot somewhere else in a different situation, but he likely will never get another shot to be a starter. Keenum maybe could have made more elsewhere, but he came back to Houston to be a mentor. Stroud might not be Stroud without Keenum. Yet, it is time to move on.