Texans HC DeMeco Ryans Explains When He Knew C.J. Stroud Was a Star

C.J. Stroud impressed all season, but even more so in a shootout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Nov 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) walks on the field
Nov 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) walks on the field / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Last season was special for the Houston Texans. They won ten games, finding their way to the playoffs. More importantly, they did so under the guidance of first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie star quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Week after week, the team continued to impress. Stroud showed his star potential each game, then eventually emerged as a star, rather than a potential one. Ryans took to the Rich Eisen Show to break down the exact moment he realized what the team had in the Ohio State product.

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“We were in a big-time shootout there with the [Tampa Bay] Buccaneers and Baker Mayfield,” Ryans said. “They scored on us late in the fourth quarter and we had under a minute to go down and score. Just to see the poise and the confidence in how he led the offense down on that last drive and for him to connect with Tank [Dell], it was the moment I won’t forget.” 

Stroud finished that battle against the Buccaneers with 470 passing yards and five passing touchdowns, completing 30 of his 42 pass attempts. He had a game-winning drive, sealing a 39-37 victory to help the Texans improve to 4-4 on the season.

“Most rookies will get flustered in that predicament,” Ryans said. “They would try to make something up new or try to force a play. He was just so calm, so confident, trusting in the playmakers around him. He delivered big time.” 

On the final drive, Stroud was zoned in. The Texans captured chunk yardage after chunk yardage, making big plays as a rookie quarterback in just his eighth regular season game. Stroud proved to be a true winner in his rookie season, setting the franchise up with plenty of hope moving forward.

“That was one of the games that was kind of our mark on our season that let us know, ‘Ok, we can win any type of game, ‘” Ryans said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a shootout, we can go win it. We can go score at will. It was a fun game to always remember.”

The emergence of Stroud as a star, and that victory in particular, gave the Texans the go sign. They went on to win ten games. They won a playoff game. And now they've spent the offseason going "all in" while Stroud is on his rookie deal, setting the team up and opening the championship window.

READ MORE: Houston Texans Game-By-Game Predictions

Stick with TexansGameday for more coverage of the Houston Texans throughout the offseason. 

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Kade Kimble


Kade has been covering a wide variety of teams ranging from the NFL to the NBA and college athletics since joining Sports Illustrated's FanNation in 2022.