The Houston Texans faced a series of blows during their 30-6 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, losing rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and leading receiver Nico Collins to injuries.
Stroud, the NFL’s leading quarterback in passing yards, found himself in the concussion protocol after a forceful hit from Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The impact caused the back of Stroud’s helmet to collide with the turf with 6:43 remaining in the game. The rookie quarterback, who had thrown for 3,540 yards prior to the match, was visibly in pain on the ground before being escorted to the locker room for further evaluation. Despite initial attempts to return, Stroud did not rejoin the game.
Texans coach DeMeco Ryans attributed the incident to the need for better protection, emphasizing the offensive line’s responsibility in shielding the quarterback. Williams, the Jets defender responsible for the hit, expressed his concern for Stroud’s well-being on social media after the game.
According to Next Gen Stats, Stroud faced pressure on 44% of his dropbacks, enduring four sacks and six additional hits during the game. The impact on his performance was evident, as he finished with a season-low output of 91 yards, completing 10 of 23 passes with no touchdowns or interceptions.
With Stroud sidelined, backup quarterback Davis Mills stepped in but struggled against the relentless pressure from the Jets’ defense. Mills, pressured on 50% of his dropbacks, managed only 1 completion for 4 yards in his first appearance of the season.
Ryans acknowledged the challenges faced by the offensive line, stating, “[The offensive line] wasn’t good enough as a whole. Different things go into that. Ultimately, our job is to protect the quarterback, and we didn’t do that well enough today.”
If Stroud is forced to miss subsequent games, Mills is poised to start in his absence. Mills, with 26 career starts and a 5-20-1 record, has thrown for 5,802 yards with 33 touchdowns and 25 interceptions over his three-year career.
In addition to the quarterback setback, the Texans also lost leading receiver Nico Collins to a calf injury during the first offensive drive of the game. Although Collins surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, totaling 1,004 yards, his departure significantly impacted the team’s offensive capabilities.
Texans linebacker Blake Cashman and cornerback Tavierre Thomas added to the injury list with hamstring injuries during the game, further compounding the challenges faced by the beleaguered team. Despite the setbacks, Coach Ryans credited the Jets for making crucial plays, stating, “This game just strictly came down — credit to the Jets — their players. They made plays, and we didn’t. You don’t deserve to win the football game when you don’t make plays.”