Sunday certainly wasn’t the prettiest outing of Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud’s rookie season. That won’t stop the good times from rolling in Houston.
The Texans beat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11, 21-16. Stroud tossed three interceptions in the win, relying on Houston’s defense to stop the dynamic threat that is Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray. They came through, pushing them to 6-4 and afloat in the AFC South race.
Interior offensive lineman Shaq Mason took the time to detail Stroud’s performance after the win.
“He doesn’t flinch,” Mason said. “He’s the ultimate competitor. We had no doubt he was going to fight back.”
Stroud threw an interception on each of Houston’s final two drives. Regardless, he hasn’t lost any respect in the locker room. On the day, he completed 27-of-37 passes for 336 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. At no point did his season-long stretch of aggression waver, even after the turnovers crept in.
His 0.1 expected points added per play was a 54th-percentile performance, despite those (potentially) costly miscues.
The Texans also owe a hefty amount of praise to rookie receiver Tank Dell, who posted another strong performance. He’s the most explosive player on the offense and has added a potent threat to Stroud’s arsenal. His 10 targets were easily the most fruitful on the team.
Mason was quick to acknowledge the rookie’s success.
“That guy makes plays,” Mason said. “Regardless of size, regardless of height, you know No. 3 is going to make plays out there. I told him he got me 28 points on fantasy this week. I needed that.”
Houston did, too. Dell’s 10 targets resulted in eight catches, 149 yards, and a 40-yard score. His yardage more than doubled the next-highest mark (receiver Nico Collins’ 65 yards). Dell’s ability to take the top off of the Cardinals' defense helped open up windows, and his rapport with Stroud is obvious.
“Man, Shaq owes me a lot,” Dell said. Perhaps his fantasy showing earned him a dinner on Mason’s dime.
In all, Stroud was sacked just three times and was dealing outside of the turnovers. They were bound to show up eventually, but Stroud’s demeanor should have Houston confident in its passer.
Expect a cleaner performance next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a battle for the AFC South.