Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Texans OC says C.J. Stroud entering pivotal Year 2: It ‘sets the trajectory for the rest of his career’

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud is coming off one of the best seasons any rookie quarterback has ever had. In 15 games last season, Stroud completed 63.9% of his passes at an average of 8.2 yards per attempt, throwing for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year, made the Pro Bowl and finished eighth in MVP voting.

Now, it’s time for an encore. And Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, who interviewed for multiple head-coaching jobs this offseason before returning to Houston for another year, knows that Year 2 is generally a big one when it comes to quarterback development. 

“It is a really, really impactful year to me that really sets the trajectory for the rest of his career, and I think a lot of that is that you get to hammer the fundamentals,” Slowik said, via Pro Football Talk. “Like last year, there was a lot going on. You have to hit fundamentals, you have to hit verbiage, you have to hit play calls, you have to hit protections, you have to hit all this stuff. You hit fundamentals to a degree, but you can only do so much.

“Now we really get to dive into the fundamentals of this is what we do and how we play and what makes him great, and really fit that and grow that within our offense. That really to me has been — just through Phase 2 [and] in OTAs so far he is on board and all in. He is picking up right where he left off.”

Obviously, Stroud had plenty of success last year, and it’s reasonable to expect that to continue into the future. But the Texans also didn’t just rest on their laurels and bank on his improvement carrying the way. They added Stefon Diggs to the receiver room via trade, brought in Joe Mixon to augment the running back room and drafted Blake Fisher to play right tackle. The group surrounding Stroud should be better than it was during his rookie season, especially if the Texans can keep their offensive line healthy. 

Typically, quarterbacks take over more command of the offense as they progress further into their careers. But Slowik said that won’t necessarily be the case for Stroud because he already had a voice in the offense during his first season. 

“It is really the same. He had a lot of input last year as well,” Slowik said. “It is more what he is comfortable suggesting and when we had dialogue, outside of last year, we get to the answer a lot faster. There could be weeks where there is more dialogue because he has more thoughts. There could be weeks where we are already on the same page because of what we went through last year and there is not a lot of dialogue needed. But that really won’t change from last year.”

Slowik, Stroud and head coach DeMeco Ryans will obviously continue tailoring the offense to fit the personnel on hand, and Stroud in particular. And as the young signal-caller gains more experience, he will likely have more input in which plays should and should not be called, and when. And he’ll presumably be trusted to take on more of the work at the line of scrimmage, including setting protections. But he was already pretty advanced in a lot of those areas last season, and it showed. Now, it’s just about taking another step forward and getting even more comfortable and consistently elevating the system and his teammates above and beyond their individual capabilities. 

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