This game started off in a raucous fashion and ended in a wet fart. With Tyrod Taylor on the field, the Texans used quick, inside breaking passes over the middle of the field to attack Cleveland’s Cover Four defense. Taylor’s athleticism held the Browns’ front around the ball while Casper motion led to a screen pass touchdown catch and run by Phillip Lindsay. A Cleveland defensive stunt abandoned pass rush lanes and then opened the door for a walk-in Taylor touchdown. Things were great.
At the end of the half, however, disaster struck. Taylor came up limping after attempting a throw on the run. He was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Enter the Davis Mills era.
Houston managed one long touchdown drive with Mills, but the rest was miserable. The rookie had no feel for the pocket, ignoring pass rushers coming from his right side. His accuracy both short and deep was all over the place. The arm strength to the sideline was nonexistent. Mills isn’t ready to play in the NFL. He may never be. The draft pick Jack Easterby celebrated started off like this.
Oh dear, Davis Mills.... pic.twitter.com/NSn3wtHM1U— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 19, 2021
And like this.
And like this.
Not sure I've ever seen a quarterback less aware of an impending sack, man. pic.twitter.com/yjE7jItvkL— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 19, 2021
Taylor was 10-11 for 125 yards, threw 1 touchdown, ran for another, and took 0 sacks. Mills was 8-18 for 102 yards, threw 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and took one sack. He also threw a dropped interception and fumbled a ball that was recovered by Marcus Cannon. With Tygod out there, the Texans were the feel good hit of September. An interesting offense. A veteran quarterback with a new lease on life. Mills was a reminder of the the hated decisions from this offseason. Houston was bland and unwatchable with Mills on the field.
Houston’s defense played fine in the first half. Justin Reid forced two turnovers on his own; he was a rocket that blasted a wide receiver going over the middle, the ball skittering out in his wake, and he picked off a pass playing deep middle. Unfortunately, Reid also left the game with a knee injury after trotting out to the sideline.
Everything changed in the second half. Baker Mayfield was nearly perfect. Houston’s front seven was worn out by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt; together, Cleveland’s RBs combined for 24 carries for 146 yards and 1 touchdown. At the end of the game, Texans defenders looked disinterested in tackling. Five Texans were massacred when Demetric Felton caught a screen pass he took to the end zone, and Nick Chubb was a moving van, hauling Houston defenders up the field. Chubb’s touchdown iced the game. It was a performance reminiscent of last season.
Houston lost Taylor, Reid, Danny Amendola, Nico Collins, Antony Auclair, and Terrance Mitchell to injury. This week, it’s a quick turnaround thanks to Thursday Night Football. Houston is hosting the violent and undefeated Carolina Panthers defense.
Davis Mills may get fed to literal panthers this week.