It's been a few years since we've had a rookie quarterback as electric as CJ Stroud and, man, is it fun to watch. Unburdened by expectations as the No. 2 overall pick in the draft for a franchise that has been historically Down Bad the last few years, Stroud has balled out for the Houston Texans, putting up huge statlines and winning games his team should have no business winning. There will be times you're reminded he's a rookie; his game-winning field goal drive against the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday was awesome and only necessary because he threw a terrible pick six mere minutes earlier. But that was just Stroud's second pick of the entire season and he is the real deal without a doubt.
Which means he's also a lightening rod for content. Dan Orlovsky launched the CJ Stroud MVP campaign last week by saying the rookie was definitely in "the conversation" before getting fully behind the wheel this morning, declaring Stroud the frontrunner.
It's Week 10 which means we're just getting started with the MVP race content so we'd best prepare ourselves. However, I will leave the fine details of this analysis to the experts who love to debate halfway through the year. Instead I am here to wonder if this is a kiss of death for Stroud, because Orlovsky absolutely loves labeling young quarterbacks MVP candidates. And it did not work out so well for the last guy.
I am, of course, talking about Justin Fields. Once Fields flashed his first signs of competency with the Chicago Bears about halfway through last season, Orlovsky started leading his MVP campaign. His efforts bled into this summer when he told anybody who would listen that Fields was a darkhorse candidate to win football's highest individual honor. He did it so often and so loudly that Fields probably moved out of the dark horse realm.
And then the season started. Fields was terrible, the Bears did him no favors, and then he got hurt. To say the MVP train derailed dramatically understates the situation. The train fell to pieces while still at the station. Things got bad enough that the NFL debate sphere at large is back to wondering if Fields has a viable skillset to play quarterback at this level.
Which means Orlovsky needs a new young QB to drive MVP conversations. Fortunately for him Stroud arrived at the perfect time. Perhaps not as fortunately for Stroud, though, if Fields is any indication.
In all seriousness I do think we're going to hear a lot of this from Orlovsky in the coming weeks. It's the perfect storm, really. This year's MVP race is more open than it has been in a while because nobody has been so great they've stood out for multiple weeks at a time. Tedy Bruschi brings up good counterpoints in the above clip but there's always room for a quarterback in the discussion and Orlovsky is particularly well-suited to claim a QB as his candidate.
The Stroud hype is gaining steam and Orlovsky will be at the head of the pack. We'll see if it works out better than Fields.