Sean Pendergast

Zapruder Analysis of Colin Cowhers's Misguided C.J. Stroud Analysis

Colin Cowherd is not high on Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud.
Colin Cowherd is not high on Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud. Screen grab from YouTube
Defending your hometown athletes from the onslaught of national media criticism, particularly when it's unfair or uninformed criticism, is one of the duties and joys of being a sports fan. We know this acutely here in Houston from having defended Jose Altuve the last three years from the dullards that insist he is the face of the Astros' sign stealing scandal.

On the football front, typically it's the quarterback of the local NFL team for whom fans must go to war. It's been a while now since we felt compelled to do so for a Houston quarterback. Deshaun Watson, pre-trade request and lawsuit avalanche, was the last quarterback for whom we all went to war in jungles like Twitter and talk radio.  Those days are obviously long gone.

The last two seasons have been a barren wasteland of quarterback play. Sorry, Davis Mills. It's true. However, now C.J. Stroud is here, and, by gawd, I am sharpening all my swords to defend him from evil national talk despots like one Colin Cowherd of FS-1. On a recent episode, Cowherd went into a four-plus minute diatribe on why Stroud's circumstances and football upbringing equate to a greater likelihood of failure. Here you go:
There's so much in there to just thrash and tear apart, and I think I am just the man to do it. So fear not, C.J. Sean Pendergast to the rescue! Let's break this video down, old fashioned Zarpuder style:

0:00 - 0:20 — Cowherd's weird "rich kid" lead in
The preface to this entire rant was a weird, seemingly misplaced analogy of how kids who grow up with nice things tend to not be as tough. I understand the analogy from a football standpoint — Stroud had five star teammates all over the field, so the game must have been super easy for him. The actuality of Stroud's REAL life, though, is the polar opposite of the "crown molding, granite countertops, and BMW" lifestyle Cowherd brings up. Stroud's dad went to prison when Stroud was in junior high! He remains in prison today!

0:21 - 0:41 — Noah Brown's comparison of Stroud to Dak Prescott
The basis for this whole conversation was an answer Brown had when asked directly to compare the two signal callers. Here's what he said:
“They're both great quarterbacks. I mean, great arm talent. I think it's a little bit early to compare a rookie to somebody like Dak Prescott. That's a great class to be in. I think he has all the potential to live up to that, maybe even surpass it. So, you know, I'm rooting for C.J. and I’m willing to have his back on anything.”
Okay, so let;'s continue.

0:42 - 1:45 — Some serious Dak Prescott slurpage
Commence about a minute of Cowherd making Dak Prescott out to be the toughest, most resilient leader of men in the history of sports, and possibly every form of combat known to man. Somehow, Dak managed to survive his Mississippi State football career alive and still able to walk. That's the gravitas with which Cowherd lays out Prescott's collegiate career. Meanwhile....

1:46 - 2:14 — C.J. Stroud was basically playing video game football, according to Cowherd
This is where Cowherd's case against Stroud really falls apart. He correctly points out that Stroud had very, very talented teammates, and played in a conference that wasn't quite as good as the SEC. My response to that would be "Yeah, and his statistics were like space age level crazy! He did exactly what a great player should do — TEAR the league up!" Also, Cowherd loses all credibility at the end where he admittedly doesn't know anything about Stroud's upbringing. As cited earlier, it was full of some serious, serious adversity. How someone of Cowherd's stature doesn't KNOW that, let alone allow it into the argument as evidence on behalf of Stroud is inexcusable.

2:57 - 3:25 — The lazy Ohio State QB narrative, YAWN
Now Cowherd does the thing that you can get away with, because many sports fans won't do the research to see how invalid his take actually is — "Ohio State quarterbacks get overdrafted and fail because the Big Ten makes them look better than they are." First, only two Ohio State quarterbacks have even been rated in the first round since 1982. Now three, with Stroud. The late Dwayne Haskins was drafted 15th overall in 2019, and Justin Fields was drafted 11th overall in 2021. Haskins was a bust, but Fields actually comes into this season as one of the sleepers to take a big leap in 2023. The Bears passed on taking Bryce Young with the first overall pick so they could roll with Fields this season. Also, I would ask Cowherd, if Ohio State is indeed such a cesspool for overrated quarterback sludge, to name me the school that's been a QB factory this century. There are like 15 great quarterbacks so far in the 2000s. Failure to find one of those has nothing to do with what school they went to. It has to do with the sheer scarcity of guys that are good enough, period.

Cowherd goes on to make a cherry picked comparison of Stroud to Jared Goff, and then circles back to Prescott, and repeats himself again. Look, I will be the first to admit that I was a supporter for the Texans taking Bryce Young ahead of Stroud. They never had a chance to make that decision, since the Panthers took Young first. No doubt Stroud has a lot of proving to do.

However, if you're going to try to lay out a prediction for failure for Stroud (and I'll point out that ultimately Cowherd ended up straddling the fence and giving himself an "out" whether Stroud succeeds OR fails, the ultimate weak approach to criticizing someone in "opinion media"), you have to know SOMETHING about his upbringing, and if you're going to use his conference as a mark against him, you have to acknowledge he had the best game of any QB the last two years against Georgia in the College Football Playoff.

Training camp begins July 25, and starting then, the truth will become evident over time. I'm here for Stroud proving Cowherd wrong.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at, on Instagram at, and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast