There hasn’t been a rookie quarterback who has taken the NFL by storm quite like C.J. Stroud. In Week 14, he’s the New York Jets’ biggest problem.
“He is a very unique young quarterback,” Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “He is a guy I really wish we would have played Week One through Four when he was still trying to figure out this game.”
Playing the runaway favorite for offensive rookie of the year early in the season may not have saved New York as Ulbrich may have liked. The second overall pick in 2023 has completed over 60% of his passes for 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His 3,540 passing yards lead the league, and his 59.3 QBR is in the top 15 of all active passers.
For a first-year quarterback to lead a seemingly talentless team like the Houston Texans to a 7-5 record, there’s no doubt who the most impressive rookie this season is. Arguably the best attribute though from the Ohio State product is his almost consistent ability to not panic in the pocket – something most young signal-callers struggle with.
“I am sure it is a by-product of an upbringing,” Ulbrich explained. “I guarantee you he was raised the right way. Yeah, it is an amazing thing. He sits in there, it is also a bi-product of I think a really good offensive line that does a really good job for him, and they do a good job from the standpoint of its play pass, its max pro, they are putting the bodies in there necessary to protect him and he knows that, and he takes advantage of that.”
If being a product of his upbringing is a reason for his success, then Ohio State and the receivers Stroud played with during that time would certainly be a big part.
Luckily for the Jets, they have one of Stroud’s best former weapons on their side leading into the Week 14 contest/
“No surprises there. he goes about everything the right way. He’s a Buckeye. We have a process at Ohio State of being detailed and the way that translates to this level. He’s a special player, special person.”
But how will the Jets plan on defending a quarterback with as much poise as Stroud? Through the course of the season, he has shown to be calm even when things don’t exactly go his way. It’s what the defense is focusing on the most going into Sunday.
“He’s a phenomenal quarterback,” Quinnen Williams said. “Young guy who’s doing a lot of stuff well. He’s making the big-time throws down the field. You can see the competitive aspect he has on film.”
Perhaps this New York team is the perfect remedy for a quarterback like Stroud. After all, they have held top signal-callers like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Herbert to some of their worst games of the year. It’ll still be difficult though with many of the Texans’ offensive and defensive staff coming over from the San Francisco 49ers coaching tree – the same as the Jets are.
‘We’ve got a very good offense coming in. They are very familiar with our scheme. It’ll be a good challenge for us,” defensive captain C.J. Mosley stated. “We’ll have to mix some things up. We can’t just sit in our basic defense. They have the beaters for us…no matter what the call is, we have to execute.”
Giving Stroud looks he hasn’t seen before will be difficult, but if there’s a unit that should be given a benefit of the doubt against top quarterbacks it’s this Jets squad. Their playoff hopes may be dwindling by the minute, but New York appears ready and focused for the next great challenge on their 2023 slate.