The future is now for the Houston Texans.
C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft earlier this year, was named the Texans’ starting quarterback by coach DeMeco Ryans on Sunday night, ending any intrigue in Houston’s quarterback battle.
Stroud beat out the player he was drafted to replace in Davis Mills, who is entering his third NFL season with a 5-19-1 record as Houston’s starter in 2021-22.
Together, Stroud and Ryans are anchoring in a new era within the Texans franchise, following the departures of three of the franchise’s biggest stars and three head coaches in the last three seasons.
“Nothing else really changes. I’m still going to work they way I have been working — even more now,” Stroud said after the preseason finale Sunday night. “So, blessed enough to be a starter so young in this league, which isn’t the easiest thing to do. But I know my coaches have trust and faith in me.”
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A new era for the Texans
The Texans’ rebuilding effort continues in 2023, but Houston might finally have the pieces it needs to transform the franchise.
Stroud was drafted behind Carolina quarterback Bryce Young after two standout seasons at Ohio State, where he threw for 8,123 yards with 85 touchdowns with a 21-4 record and named a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2022.
Along with Stroud, the Texans landed dynamic Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson with the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
Some other Texans standouts include All-Pro left tackle Laremy Tunsil, 2022 No. 3 pick cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., 2022 fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce, 2019 No. 23 pick in right tackle Tytus Howard (who will return after hand surgery earlier this month).
How did the Texans land Stroud as QB?
The Texans entered the final game of the 2022 regular season with the worst record in the NFL, but defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 32-31, effectively putting Houston out of contention for the No. 1 pick. They were 3-13-1.
Lovie Smith was fired as head coach after one season following the win. Smith was Houston’s defensive coordinator and associate head coach in 2021. He replaced David Culley, who was also fired after one season.
Bill O’Brien was fired after a 0-4 start in 2020, ending his six-year run as Texans coach.
The Texans have won just 11 games in the last three seasons.
Who will Houston look to replace?
The Texans won the AFC South four times in five years from 2015-19, reaching 10 and 11 wins, respectively, in 2018 and 2019, with a core featuring quarterback Deshaun Watson, defensive end J.J. Watt and receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Watson was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March 2022. Watt requested and was granted his release from the Texans in February 2021. And Hopkins was traded away to the Arizona Cardinals in March 2020.
The Texans have never gotten past the divisional round of the playoffs in their 21 seasons in the NFL.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: C.J. Stroud will start Texans’ 2023 NFL season opener vs. Ravens