The Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers were both quarterbacked by players wearing the number ten. That is probably where the similarities ended. Often times, when you play good teams you find out exactly where you are. Sunday may have been the first game against a team everyone universally agrees is a playoff contender. It showed for much of the game as the Chargers seemed to be in real control for much of the contest.
The Texans did battle back to make it a 27-24 game at one point in the fourth quarter. So, the narrative that they are just a few plays away from getting into the win column will likely continue through the week. Again, these things are literally true, but they are also misleading in some sense.
As we illustrated last week, there is a 2,000+ year notion that you are essentially what you do. The Texans can call themselves anything they want, but the numbers and evidence on the field says what they really are. It can seem tedious to keep showing these numbers week in and week out, but they demonstrate something very valuable. When you see the same things happening time and again it should tell you something.
The Team Numbers
Total Yards: 419 Chargers, 346 Texans
Total Plays: 67 Chargers, 53 Texans
Total Rushes: 28 Chargers, 18 Texans
Total Passes: 39 Chargers, 35 Texans
Yards Per Play: 6.5 Texans, 6.3 Chargers
Rushing Yards: 131 Texans, 81 Chargers
Passing Yards: 338 Chargers, 215 Texans
Yards Per Drop Back: 8.5 Chargers, 5.5 Texans
Penalties: 6/61 Chargers, 9/67 Texans
Turnovers: 1 Chargers, 2 Texans
Time of Possession: 31:39 Chargers, 28:21 Texans
Three and Outs: 1 (13) Texans, 3 (9) Chargers
As you can see, the Texans did win a couple of categories. They had more rushing yards, fewer three and outs, and more yards per play. Everything else went the Chargers way. The rushing yards might seem misleading at first considering Dameon Pierce’s 75 yard touchdown run. So, he ran 56 yards on 17 other carries. That’s 3.3 yards per carry on the other carries.
However, removing the touchdown would be like saying Tom Brady is an average quarterback when you remove his seven Super Bowl rings. That 75 yard run happened and it is part of the positive consequence of giving Pierce more carries. He could break one and take it to the house.
At the end of the day, 18 carries for a back like Pierce is not completely unreasonable. What is missing is a complementary back. The Chargers were able to spread 28 carries to two or three different backs. That’s the difference. Their offense was somehow more balanced in spite of having what everyone would call a top ten quarterback and some would call top five. The Texans don’t have one of those guys and yet they passed more often in relationship to their rushing attempts.
Sure, they were behind 21-0 at one point. Most would say Rex Burkhead shouldn’t get carries. Mills is not a dual threat quarterback. Maybe you can blame it on the phases of the moon. This has happened four weeks in a row. Their opponent has been more balanced even though they keep telling us they are a physical running team. If that were true you would look like it. They just don’t look like that and so they aren’t. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell us you are.
The Mills Report
I really don’t like beating dead horses and this horse hasn’t shown signs of life since the first half of game one. Okay, maybe that isn’t quite fair. There are plays where you see a glimpse of life. There was a touchdown to Brandin Cooks and a long pass to Nico Collins that were glimpses of brilliance. Still, Mills is wearing out his welcome with random precision.
246 yards, 74.3%, 7.0 YPA, 2 TD, 2 INT, 88.5 Standard QBR, 37.9 ESPN QBR
The ESPN QBR is particularly telling. That’s four weeks of action and he hasn’t an ESPN QBR above 38.3. That means he has been below average every week. At this point, the click monkeys will start asking if the Texans should move to Kyle Allen. Such a question begs two questions right from the jump. First, does Allen really give them a better chance to win each Sunday? Secondly, what is the best long-term interest of the franchise?
I honestly couldn’t tell you whether Allen gives you a better chance to win. That’s a relative statement. What we can say is that he has a few seasons of games that tell us he isn’t a franchise quarterback. So, the question is whether you’ve seen what you need to see from Mills. If your answer is yes, then it is simply a question of whether he or Mills is better right now. If you say you need to see more then it doesn’t make much sense to go to Allen. If quarterback is the most important position in football then having a definitive answer is the most important takeaway from the 2022 season. That might even trump winning and losing.