Houston: On October 5, with 46 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leading the Houston Texans 37-33, Shaq Griffin exited the field at NRG Stadium. He was one of eleven defensive players who felt they lost a chance when they let tight end Cade Otton catch a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Baker Mayfield. Griffin was aware that the Texans’ chances of winning were still quite limited. After all, he watched Russell Wilson, a future Hall of Famer, lead the Seattle Seahawks on 13 game-winning drives during the first four years of his career.
But in the midst of his career, Wilson was a player deserving of an MVP award. Griffin saw C.J. Stroud share Wilson’s confidence and mannerisms when he got back to the sidelines. Considering that Stroud was only seven games into his career, the former Pro Bowl cornerback did not give it much thought. “That’s what makes C.J. unique,” Griffin remarked. “You never see a guy that young with that much maturity capable of uniting a squad on his own. to be able to convince each and every person that you are capable of achieving your goals. That is not the case. Other than C.J., no rookie quarterback can convince everyone in an organization of that.”
“One thing that I can say about Jerrod is that you talk about someone who knows how to play the position of quarterback and knows how to relay something, but is also just a great person,” Stroud stated. “Jerrod was an inspiration to me. My life was revolutionized when he said, “Man, you need to be more confident.” From then on, time flies by, and here I am in my freshman year with him; working with him has truly been a blessing.” Four years after their initial meeting, the two got back together in Houston. Johnson has witnessed firsthand how Stroud’s early trajectory to a Hall of Fame career is a result of the confidence he gave him at the Nike World Headquarters in Oregon.
Stroud, full of confidence, spoke to his teammates before hitting the field, with the Texans trailing Tampa Bay by four points. “Hey, bro, I’ve got you.” “There are a lot of quarterbacks who can play good for 59 minutes, but when in crunch time, there are a lot of guys who really cannot do that at that high of a level,” Sheldon Rankins stated. It has been amazing to see him grow every week. The idea that he still has opportunity to develop is absurd. I feel privileged to witness and participate in it.”
Stroud’s self-assurance enabled him to spearhead Houston’s remarkable resurgence. It enabled him to have what was maybe the best rookie quarterback season in league history by the end of his first year. With 4,557 passing yards at the end of his first season, including postseason play, he is the second-most rookie quarterback in NFL history, only surpassed by Andrew Luck’s 4,662 yards in 2012.
With Stroud in charge, the Texans won 11 games, including one that saw them advance to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Johnson remarked, “I think that kid is special.” “He puts up enough effort to win this game and advance to his desired level. He likes football, as long as he preserves the important thing, the important thing. He is a skilled and precise passer. The possibilities are endless for him with those two qualities.”