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The Value of Things: Gaming the Quarterbacks

Have the Texans upgraded the quarterback room?

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Football Team Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

It’s difficult to remain unemotional about quarterbacks. It is the most important position on the football field and perhaps the most important position in all of professional sports. Teams don’t blink an eye to pay a good one in excess of 20 percent of their overall team payroll. If you want to be somewhere awhile, you can start an argument about two quarterbacks and which one was better.

So, going through a similar method as we did with the other positions is simply not going to do. That is particularly true when Davis Mills is concerned. After all, he was only a rookie and he had to deal with a ton of dysfunction and a lousy roster. All of this is true. Yet, there will be an argument on the bottom of this article. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

This article is going to be split into three sections. The first section will compare Tyrod Taylor and Kyle Allen. Did the Texans upgrade their backup position going into this season? The second section will compare Mills with other quarterbacks that were similar to him as a rookie. Finally, we will go with the same “What’s Missing” category that we have with the other positions. I assume that one will be the source of disagreement.

Comparing the Backups

Both Allen and Taylor have served as starters in this league, but neither have in the last couple of years. We will go back four seasons on both players, but only one of those was a qualifying season. So, let’s take a look at the numbers and see what we can decipher about our backup quarterback situation.

Tyrod Taylor— 59.2, 59.4, 66.0. 47.0

Kyle Allen— 65.9, 68.5, 49.7, 73.8

Only one of those seasons was a qualifying season. That has to be alarming because it is the worst season amongst the eight. So, there is cause for alarm. However, if 60 is the league average performance, we see that Taylor only had one season in the last four where he was better than average. Allen only had one season where he was not.

Taylor only has three seasons where he qualified as a regular quarterback. They all were 70 or higher, but they also happened more than five seasons ago. It would seem like the Texans have upgraded their quarterback room. Allen has had more recent success than Taylor and he is also more similar to Mills than Taylor.

One of the things I’ve never understood is why teams don’t find a second quarterback that is similar to their starter. It allows you to use the same playbook in case of emergency and it allows your team to have more continuity. Of course, having a third quarterback that could bring something different is not necessarily a bad idea. Kevin Hogan and Jeff Driscoll aren’t really that guy, so we will move on.

What can we expect out of Mills?

One of the things I mentioned in an earlier post is the concept of similarity scores. It is a terrific concept we use in baseball to compare similar players. The general idea is that we can become emotionally attached to our heroes and inflate or deflate their accomplishments depending on the nature of our emotional attachment. We can do the same in football.

Of course, we are comparing Mills to guys that have already gone through a good portion of their career. This is likely to cause some hurt feelings one way or another. Quarterbacks tend to do that. So, what we will do here is compare Mills with five quarterbacks that had similar seasons as their first season as a qualified starter. We will then look at what they did in their first five seasons as a starter. Hopefully, we can glean something from these numbers.

Kirk Cousins: 58.1, 70.8, 80.6, 70.0, 79.3

Andy Dalton: 62.2, 63.7, 70.6. 66.5, 80.4

Case Keenum: 60.9, 59.9, 81.4, 70.0, 55.0

Brian Hoyer: 59.0, 61.5, 79.8, 63.6, N/A

Nick Foles: 56.5, 78.3, 64.7, 58.8, 73.2

Just as a reminder, Mills came in at a 59.5 last season. All of these quarterbacks came up in different situations. Some had better teams than others. The idea is to see what happens in the aggregate. If we take all five of these quarterbacks and take their composite scores in years one through five. It might give us some idea as to what we can expect from Mills moving forward.

Composite: 59.3, 66.8, 75.4, 65.8, 72.0

So, we can expect improvement from Mills. A part of this is the connection you have with each of the guys above. Four of the five are current backups in the league. The obvious conclusion is that Mills is destined to be a backup. Of course, there is no way to know if that is true. He could be the next Kirk Cousins. That’s always the fun part of this whole deal. Eleven of the 24 seasons on record were seasons where these five scored 70 or higher. So, there is some reasonable hope that Mills could produce that as soon as next season. These guys obviously peaked in their third season, so there is hope.

What’s Missing

My opinion is worth no more or less than anyone else’s. After all, I am not a football coach, scout, or executive. I just know a little thing about numbers and I know what I see. Davis Mills has the look of an average starting quarterback or good backup quarterback. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. People hear the word average and they automatically recoil. Average is just that. Average. There are as many guys underneath you as there are above you.

The question is whether you can make it as far as you need to go with an average quarterback. That of course would take a bit of study that we can do later on this summer. For now, we will go with the gut and my gut tells me we will be looking at one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the 2023 draft. I could definitely be wrong and life would be better if I am.