Cj Stroud could eventually challenge Trevor Lawrence as the AFC South top QB

Trevor Lawrence mediocre two games a leaving a path for CJ Stroud to rise in the AFC South

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans / Bob Levey/GettyImages

The NFL brings a unique blend of excitement, intensity, and competition. It's a league that fosters talent and brings out the best in players. Every season, new players emerge, and others continue to dominate. In the realm of professional football, the names C.J. Stroud and Trevor Lawrence have been echoing through each corner. As two highly skilled quarterbacks, the comparison between them becomes inevitable; the question of who is better always lingers. However, in the light of the 2023 season, it seems that CJ Stroud has taken the lead, especially in the AFC South.

Considering their recent performances in the 2023 season, these two players are particularly noteworthy. They are redefining their respective teams and setting new standards in the league. Let's dive into an in-depth analysis of their performance after the first two games of the 2023 season and see if Stroud has jumped Lawrence, the top quarterbacks in the AFC South.

Texans QB CJ Stroud: A Promising Start

C.J. Stroud rose to prominence in the Texans' lineup with impressive stats. Despite the team's 0-2 start to the season, his performance has been commendable. With a pass completion rate of 63.7 percent in his first two games, Stroud has managed to throw two touchdowns and zero interceptions—an impressive feat for a rookie quarterback.

If we delve deeper into Stroud's gameplay, we see that 27 percent of his throws were behind the line of scrimmage in the first game. In the second game, however, there was a significant decrease in such passes. This shift in strategy indicates Stroud's adaptability and capacity to evolve his gameplay based on the team's needs.

One of the striking aspects of Stroud's performance was his ability to push the ball down the field. He made two touchdown passes of over 10 yards, showcasing his strength in long passes. However, he did not attempt any passes beyond 21 yards, indicating a possible area of improvement. 

As it stands, in Stroud's two losses to the Colts and Falcons, he has thrown for 629 (fourth) yards, two touchdowns, and completed 58 passes (fifth) out of 91 attempts. He is projected to throw 5,300 yards in his rookie season at this pace. 

Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence: The Prince of the AFC South

Trevor Lawrence, on the other hand, has been a dynamic player for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite his team's struggles, his performance in the 2023 season has been notable. Lawrence's stats are fascinating, and some analysts projected an MVP Season with 5,000+ yards for Lawrence.

Lawrence's gameplay is characterized by consistency and precision. He has shown a balanced approach, distributing his passes evenly between the left and right sides of the field. However, he has not attempted many long passes, indicating a more cautious strategy.

In terms of Next Gen stats, Lawrence's average intended air yards (IAY) were slightly lower than Stroud's at 5.7 yards in the first game but improved to 10.2 yards in the second game. His air yards to the sticks (AYTS) were -3.6 yards in the first game but improved to 1.5 yards in the second game. This improvement suggests that Lawrence can quickly adapt to the NFL's competitive environment.

Through the two games this season, Lawrence has been a perfect mediocre, with 457 yards passing (14th), two touchdowns, and 46 completions (13th) for a 63 percent completion rate. At this pace, Lawrence will have a 3,800-yard season with 17 touchdowns, not Sunshine-worthy numbers from the Prince that was promised.

Now, the gameplay, strategies, and in-game circumstances between Stroud and Lawrence differ significantly. Stroud seems to favor a more aggressive approach, while Lawrence leans towards a balanced and cautious strategy. While Stroud has been trying to pass out of a losing deficit, and Lawrence has been managing the game from an advantage and only two games in far too small a sample size.

It's also worth noting that while Stroud has produced commendable stats, the Texans are yet to register a win in the 2023 season. 

The Verdict

C.J. Stroud and Trevor Lawrence have showcased impressive skills in their first two games of the 2023 season. They have demonstrated their potential and have set the stage for an exciting season ahead. While it's too early to predict who will emerge on top, Stroud is clearly looking to usurp Lawrence as the top quarterback in the division and is making an impressive attempt. There is only one way to settle the Battle for the King of the South, on the field this Sunday in Jacksonville, the two will square off and settle this debate post haste.

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