(SportsRadio 610) - The Texans were pummeled early as Indianapolis Colts first-year head coach Shane Steichen notched his first coaching victory, sending Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans searching for answers.
However, while the Texans have many holes to plug and questions to answer, figuring out if they have a franchise quarterback on their hands isn’t one of them, as rookie C.J. Stroud confirmed Sunday.
After a disconcerting performance last week, it was a mixed bag at NRG Stadium in the Texans' regular season home opener.
While offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik appeared to have cleaned up a lot of the pre-snap procedural issues that plagued the Texans the previous week in Baltimore, the Steichen's Colts won the day at NRG.
Aside from the first two snaps of the game, the Texans appeared to be out-schemed and underprepared for the Colts offense.
DeMeco Ryans has a lot of work to do with a banged up defense with Jimmie Ward and Jalen Pitre out and a weak looking linebacker core.
Rookie Will Anderson Jr. applied the pressure and lone hit on Anthony Richardson before the Colts' rookie quarterback exited in the second quarter with a concussion.
The fact he suffered one is perplexing given the lack of pressure by the Texans front seven.
Of course, it happened on his second touchdown run, which was less than six minutes into the game.
They’ve got 99 problems and a quarterback ain’t one.
There, I did it and I don’t care.
The fact that Stroud continues to make significant progress at the position behind one of the worst excuses for an offensive line is beyond me, but it’s happening.
Stroud finished the game completing 30-of-47 pass attempts for 384 yards, including two touchdowns. The Colts sacked him six times Sunday, bringing his total to 11 sacks through the first two weeks of the season, including a combined 19 quarterback hits.
He and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik got into a rhythm offensively and Stroud continued the chemistry he’s been building with Nico Collins, who had a career-high 146 yards on seven receptions, including an eight-yard touchdown reception for Stroud's first career score.
Stroud was also able to find Tank Dell seven times for 72 yards, including a touchdown.
The Texans' No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft joined Kyler Murray as the only two rookie QBs in history with 25 or more completions in each of their first two starts.
Stroud is also the only quarterback in NFL history to have more than 80 pass attempts in his first two career games without an interception. He’s completed 58 of his 91 attempts through two weeks at a 63.7% clip.
Despite taking six more sacks against the Colts, he showed improvement in pocket awareness and equally as important, the ability to position his body and feet to throw the ball away under pressure, which he’s struggled with early on.
It’s not perfect, but given the circumstances of how bad the offensive line play has been, he’s done an incredible job of extending plays and getting the ball out in a more timely manner.
There is plenty to work on offensively, most notably the run game.
However, it’s likely going to be a few more weeks before significant improvement is made in that department given the key figures missing on the offensive line.
The Texans averaged a pathetic 2 yards per carry against the Colts on Sunday, compiling just 52 yards on 26 carries.
Unfortunately, the Texans have neutralized one of the most entertaining ball carriers in the league in Dameon Pierce with poor run blocking. It’s not likely to improve until Tytus Howard, Juice Scruggs and Laremy Tunsil get back to full health and even then, there still appears to be no real solution at left guard.
They must really hate Michael Deiter.
Rookie center Jarrett Patterson got beat badly on their first offensive possession and left tackle Josh Jones allowed an early sack of Stroud. That set the tone for the day up front.
Following the loss, rookie edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. said the team lacked the energy, enthusiasm and urgency necessary to start the game.
Loose translation: We didn’t make the plays we were supposed to make and when you get get beat as bad as we did, it looks like we’re running in quicksand.
After talking about the atmosphere and wanting to show the hometown fans what they could do, they sure laid an egg in that regard.
The Texans had blown coverages, no pressure up front, miscommunications and missed too many tackles early.
Their inability to execute the fundamentals amounted to an early 14-0 deficit.
If it wasn’t Anthony Richardson sprinting into the end zone untouched, it was running back Zack Moss dancing around defenders and knifing through tackles on his way to an 88-yard day on 18 carries.
The Colts gashed the Texans for 126 yards on the ground on 23 carries for an average of 5.5 per attempt.
It was embarrassing after the performance the Texans defense had against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
It felt like the identity of the team was going to be a tenacious defense in the early going. Instead, they looked lost and were out of position to make plays.
Anderson still has a lot to learn. He was beat badly on Anthony Richardson’s second touchdown run, an 18-yard score to give the Colts a 14-0 lead.
Anderson bit on the fake handoff and knifed into the b-gap to try and make a play, instead of staying home to see the ball commit beyond the line of scrimmage. It didn’t, he was fooled and Richardson went untouched into the end zone.
Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 51-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.
If he’d have converted, it would’ve been a 31-23 game and it might’ve made the final 2:44 that much more interesting.
But when it rains, it pours.