Question 1: Are Texans fans feeling better, worse, or about the same towards second-overall pick C.J. Stroud now compared to draft night? Where has he impressed through two games and where can he get better?
I’d say this answer is in two parts. When comparing him to the rest of the league we feel pretty good. He’s not a top 12 quarterback yet, but no one expected him to be in year one. In particular, his pocket presence and accuracy is already well above average. He could definitely make decisions quicker and get rid of the ball faster and avoid a few of the sacks he has taken, but overall we are very pleased. Naturally, the second consideration is how he compares with Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson. On this count we are over the moon. We may have dodged a bullet getting the second pick and this is not something that is normal for the Texans or even in the history of the NFL. Obviously, two games is not enough time to make any final determinations but we are very happy so far.
Q2: This is DeMeco Ryans’ first opportunity to call a defense entirely in his own version. Does this Texans defense remind you of the Niners defenses he used to coach, or is Ryans about to start his own system and subsequent coaching tree?
I think it is fairly similar to what he did in San Francisco, but he doesn’t have the horses yet. Both starting safeties were out for most of the first two games and as of this writing it is unclear if either will be back for this game. The starting nickel back is also out for an extended period. I think the style of swarming to the ball and playing physical is there as much as can be expected with so many injuries. I will look forward to when this secondary is completely healthy, but that will be a general theme you will hear about this team across the board.
Q3: 2022 third-overall pick Derek Stingley Jr. and 2023 third-overall pick Will Anderson Jr. are the clear cornerstones of Ryans’ defense. Who are some lesser-known faces on that side of the ball that Jaguars fans should be aware of?
Denzel Perryman has been a huge upgrade at linebacker this year and Henry To’oTo’o might have been one of the steals in the draft at linebacker as well. Jonathan Greenard is in his walk year and looked really good in week one. No one looked good this past week. Steven Nelson had a pick in week one, but the pass defense was gashed last week. A lot depends on which tape you end up watching.
Q4: When do you expect the Texans to transition from a rebuilding team to a competitor?
This is a loaded question. Most fans expected the team to finish between six and eight wins this season. I’d consider that a competitive team, but not quite a playoff contender. We haven’t seen that team yet. Last week they had only one healthy starting offensive lineman. They also were missing a handful of guys on defense. This is a normal thing in an NFL season, but I’ve never seen anything like this in week one or two. I feel like this will be a competitive team when those guys get back, but who else will be on the shelf then? If the trajectory of this rebuild continues as is then 2024 is the year where they could break through to the playoffs. They will have a full complement of picks and an excess of 100 million to spend in free agency. If they draft well and sign the right free agents this thing could flip in a hurry. We saw Jacksonville go worst to first, so I feel like the Texans can make a similar transformation. Realistically, they don’t have quite enough to do that this season, but this should be a six- or seven-win team when everyone is healthy.
Q5: The Jaguars are 9.5-point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Which side of the spread are you taking, and are there any player/game props that stand out to you?
A lot will depend on the injury report. The Jaguars have struggled some on offense and if those safeties are back the Texans defense could keep offensive production down. I can’t pick the Texans to win this game, but I think they cover in that instance. If the safeties are out and Tavierre Thomas is out then Lawrence will torch this secondary. I like the over on C.J. Stroud passing yards because I see the Texans abandoning the run game fairly early on. That could be good for Nico Collins and Tank Dell owners as well. So, I am going with a Jaguars win in the neighborhood of 20-17 for now. That is subject to change based on the injury report, but that is the case every week in the NFL.
Thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer our questions!
What are your thoughts on this week’s matchup, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!