“Ohio State can’t produce successful NFL quarterbacks,” is a take I have heard time and time again. It’s also a take that needs to be retired. Ohio State veteran quarterbacks Justin Fields and C.J. Stroud have faced major criticism during both their respective college and professional careers. Fields is in his third professional season and starts as QB for the Chicago Bears while Stroud, a rookie, was drafted by the Houston Texans earlier this year. Though both are working to change the narrative that Ohio State QBs are unsuccessful in the NFL, Stroud is doing so with a sense of urgency.
Photo courtesy of @cj7stroud/Instagram
Stroud is on track to have the best rookie season for a quarterback in NFL history and it’s no surprise—at Ohio State, he was known to throw gorgeous intermediate and deep passes. In fact, Stroud holds the Ohio State record for most passing yards in a single game with 573 yards!
These impressive skills have certainly transferred to the next level as he’s leading the league in passing yards per game with 291.8 yards. Stroud’s Week 9 contest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led him to a couple of records, like the most passing touchdowns in a single game by a rookie QB (5 TDs), and most passing yards in a single game by a rookie QB (470 yards). Even more impressive, Stroud flexed a quick game-winning drive with just 46 seconds left on the clock. Stroud connected a 15-yard pass to WR Tank Dell with only six seconds left to secure the win.
Still riding the Week 9 high, C.J. Stroud managed to pull out a victory over the fan-favorite quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals. Burrow has been regarded as an elite quarterback for the past few seasons, but Stroud outperformed the Bengals QB during the Week 10 showdown in Cincinnati. Stroud scored his second rushing touchdown of his professional career. Although he threw an interception this game, it was only his second of the season—Stroud set the NFL record for most pass attempts to begin a career without an interception (192 attempts) earlier this season.
Photo courtesy of @houstontexans/Instagram
Going hand-in-hand with his lack of interceptions, C.J. Stroud joined some high-profile names like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Y.A. Tittle as the sixth player in NFL history to throw for at least 450 yards, five TDs, and no interceptions. Stroud also has the third-longest average time to throw with 2.85 seconds, in the company of Deshaun Watson and Justin Fields ahead of him. This is partially due to Houston’s o-line being ranked sixth in terms of pass-blocking, partially due to Stroud’s improvisational skills. Stroud can’t take all the credit, though. His receiving squad of Noah Brown, Tank Dell, and Nico Collins have made for great targets.
The chemistry between C.J. Stroud and Tank Dell began during the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine—and Dell credits Stroud for allowing it to continue. After the Combine, Stroud reached out to Dell to recognize his game. The two kept in contact and after Stroud was drafted second overall, Dell congratulated him and expressed an interest in joining the same franchise. Stroud relayed the message that he was impressed by Dell and his running routes and the rest is history. Dell was drafted in the third round by the Texans and regards Stroud as his claim to fame. Not only have the two been an unstoppable duo, but the early recognition of Dell’s talent has proven Stroud to have his head in the game.
Photo courtesy of @cj7stroud/Instagram
Though there has only been one rookie in NFL history to win MVP, which was Jim Brown in 1957, C.J. Stroud shouldn’t be counted out quite yet. At the ripe age of 22, Stroud has held his own against veteran quarterbacks and highly-ranked teams. While each week may not strengthen Houston’s record as a whole, Stroud’s MVP odds are on the rise.