When the Arizona Cardinals traded away the third-overall choice of this past April's draft, many believed that the club had found the perfect organization to strike a deal with. Not much was expected out of the Houston Texans, a squad that appeared to have one of the most untalented rosters in the NFL. Surely, the Texans wouldn't win many matchups, so the 2024 first-round selection that the Cards acquired in the agreement had the potential be a top-5 pick.
Unfortunately for Arizona, the compensation they received in the trade is becoming less and less valuable with each passing week. Much to the chagrin of Redbirds general manager Monti Ossenfort, Houston has somehow managed to compile a winning record (5-4) after nine games. What has triggered the success of the Texans thus far in 2023?
When the Cardinals were searching for a new head coach last winter, DeMeco Ryans was one of the hottest names on the market. Ossenfort scheduled an interview with the smoking hot candidate, but the 39-year-old canceled the meeting. Ryans ultimately took the job with Houston, leaving the franchise and it's fans extremely glad that he did.
Arizona Cardinals will take on a squad this coming weekend which is one of the NFL's biggest surprises of 2023
Another fantastic addition to the Texans has been rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. The 22-year-old has thrown for 2,626 yards and 15 touchdowns, while tossing just two interceptions. While it's certainly a small sample size, one has to wonder if the Carolina Panthers are second-guessing the decision they made to select Bryce Young over the exciting young passer.
The 6 foot 3, 218 pound Stroud's transition to the professional level has been made a whole lot easier by a Houston receiving corps that is performing at an elite level. Nico Collins is averaging an eye-popping 17.5 yards per catch, while rookie wideout Tank Dell leads the group with five touchdown receptions. Others like Noah Brown, Robert Woods, and tight end Dalton Schultz have made solid contributions to the Texans passing attack as well.
Houston's defensive unit is led by Blake Cashman, a fifth-year linebacker who has racked up 53 tackles, four passes defensed, a sack, and an interception in his eight appearances. The pass rush is paced by Jonathan Greenard, a 26-year-old veteran who leads the Texans with seven sacks. Will Anderson Jr., a highly-touted edge rusher who many Cards followers were clamoring for back in April, has made his presence known with 31 tackles,11 quarterback hits and a pair of sacks in his nine starts.
With signal-caller Kyler Murray back in the lineup, Arizona can compete with almost any squad in pro football. When the schedule was released back in May, the contest with Houston looked quite winnable. Now, 11 weeks into the campaign, the Cardinals' chances of defeating an ascending Texans team have decreased dramatically.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)