(SportsRadio 610) - It wasn’t pretty, but it was far from ugly.
It became more clearer why the Texans made CJ Stroud their No. 2 overall selection in this year's NFL draft.
Stroud finished his rookie debut completing 28 of his 44 pass attempts for 244 yards and scrambled four times for 20 yards.
With a patchwork offensive line that struggled all day, he was sacked five times and lost a fumble.
He grew up during the game.
He wouldn’t admit it and the coaches won’t acknowledge it, but the former Ohio State Buckeye shook off the nerves and gained confidence on the offense's fourth series.
While the 15-play, 67-yard drive yielded just three points rather than a touchdown, Stroud showed the accuracy that he’d been lauded for and made key third down completions.
The rookie, working behind an offensive line that had been together as a unit for less than a week, kept his poise and composure along the way as the Texans' pre-snap operations and procedures sputtered throughout the game on Sunday.
“Trying to create more skills and upgrade on certain looks and certain plays we’re going to run to be better this week,” Stroud said. “So, that’s what I’m excited to do, and it’s a blessing to be able to have health and to be able to go out there and play again.”
That’s the positive outlook and maturity from the Texans' rookie quarterback that has him wearing the captain insignia on his chest.
First-year offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik said he was proud of the way Stroud performed in his debut, showing what he and the Texans believed to be true throughout their pre-draft evaluation process.
“For a young quarterback, he’s very functional from the pocket, which is rare, and he has elite accuracy,” Slowik said. “The ball goes exactly where he wants it to go, and I think he’s shown in the NFL, in one game, he’s shown more athleticism than I think a lot of people gave him credit for.”
Will Slowik show on Sunday what everyone has been waiting to see from him?
Head coach DeMeco Ryans didn’t beat around the bush after Sunday's loss, acknowledging that the Texans simply must run a smoother operation offensively and it starts with getting the play call into their rookie quarterback.
Slowik has shouldered the blame along with Stroud for the sloppy communication, but was adamant that they should see a quick turnaround in efficiency and said he’s already seen improvement since Sunday's loss.
"Nothing replaces a real, actual, applicable rep of that, but there’s been a noticeable difference in practice even for us this week, and that includes me," Slowik said. "You know, how fast the call is getting in, how clear the call is getting in to help out everyone else, and then the whole operation from there speeds up.
"So, I think it’s one of those that I don’t believe that’s going to take very long. I think that’s something we can definitely control, which is why we have to fix it. We control what we can control, and then there’s other stuff that maybe might take eight weeks to grow into, but that one I think we can fix pretty fast.”
Having experienced those procedural hiccups in Baltimore - one of the most hostile road environments in the league - the Texans should be much improved week two, hosting the Indianapolis Colts at the friendly confines of NRG Stadium.
However, Stroud this week seemed a bit more resigned to the fact that the Texans may not be able to fix everything in such a short amount of time.
“Things don’t happen overnight, and even though we would love them to, creating a successful offense it takes patience,” Stroud said. “And that’s something I feel like, of course, no one wants to hear that. I don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. And it’s just being better on my part. I have to control what I can control and be as best as I can getting guys in and out of the huddle, things like that.”
The defense, as has been the case since training camp, is far ahead of the offense. While winning is the only thing that matters and the Texans aren’t necessarily playing in a ‘gotta have it’ type of game in week two, the offense has to win the day in more ways than just one.
Personnel usage needs to improve as well.
He has to get rookie receiver Tank Dell and tight end Dalton Schultz more involved in the offense. The offensive line has to be better in protecting Stroud and creating better running lanes.
Still, for the rookie coordinator, it comes down to efficiency.
“That would be the number one thing,” Slowik said. “How fast we can get the play call in, how clear we can be with it, how on it the rest of the coaching staff is as far as personnel substitutions and what’s going on in that regard, I think that is just a trickle-down effect. From there, as we’ve been doing in practice this week, it’s noticeable.”
We’ll see how noticeable it is on Sunday.