3 big storylines when the Browns play the Texans in the Wild Card Round

The Browns have reached the second season and these three big storylines will dictate if they advance.

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next

2. How will Jim Schwartz have the defense attack CJ Stroud?

When the Browns knocked off the Texans in Week 16 on Christmas Eve, they did so with Houston missing stud rookie quarterback CJ Stroud, who was in concussion protocol. Case Keenum stepped in to fill the void, and no disrespect to the Cleveland legend, but he's no Stroud.

Houston drafted Stroud second overall in the 2023 NFL Draft and he lit the world on fire in his rookie campaign. He threw for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns, and five interceptions while completing 63.9% of his passes. The likely winner of the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award also rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

Stefanski said that they have watched tape on Stroud and described him as "awesome." In the offseason, Cleveland moved on from defensive coordinator Joe Woods and brought in Jim Schwartz. That move is arguably the best one made by any NFL team this year.

Schwartz has overhauled this defense to the point where they are in the conversation for best in the league. General manager Andrew Berry went out and acquired a bevy of talent for Schwartz to mold into his system, along with the players already on the roster or drafted.

So what will Schwartz do about Stroud? He will likely use Lamar Jackson as a blueprint as to how to defend what Stroud is capable of. While Stroud doesn't use his legs quite like Jackson, he does use them to extend plays and escape closing pockets, which happens at a high rate. If the Browns can apply pressure early and often, it could be tough sledding for the rook.