It’s common knowledge an NFL quarterback often gets too much praise and too much blame for a team’s win-loss record. Sometimes that’s enough to sink an otherwise promising career.
Case in point: Davis Mills.
The second year passer will enter his first season as the undisputed starter for the Houston Texans, according to the latest commentary from head coach Lovie Smith. But who will stand with him?
The team’s offensive line is still very questionable, the run game still not much to write home about and the wide receiver corps just took a major blow in the loss of promising rookie John Metchie III.
What’s Mills got to do to catch a break around here?
Houston Texans (3-14): They finally appear to be moving beyond Watson’s specter, the franchise recently settling its own rash of lawsuits connected to the former face of the franchise. The focus can now finally turn to football, but retread coach Lovie Smith and promising sophomore QB Davis Mills are still working with a weak hand even as GM Nick Caserio tries to lay a new foundation with his Watson trade bounty. Just not much to lay your 10-gallon hat on here, but the 2023 draft is only nine months away … and Houston might just be picking first.
Lane went on to hammer that nail further into the coffin with some very valid points:
There isn’t any position on the Texans’ roster that is teeming with depth. The Texans also don’t have a face of the franchise, not since they released defensive end J.J. Watt in the 2021 offseason. There isn’t one position that analysts can point to as upper echelon when compared to the rest of the NFL, and that is what makes Houston a trepidatious pick when looking for improvement.
Without a true face of the franchise, or any real star power player aside from possibly Brandin Cooks, it’s natural that all eyes would fall on Davis Mills. Most of us believe the sophomore field general has a pile of potential and could very well be the next franchise quarterback for this team. But most of us are also very gun-shy about all things Texans due to the last few years worth of fan abuse by the organization.
Pro Football Focus recently queried NFL executives and coaches regarding the crop of 2021 quarterbacks. While Mills didn’t fair so well in the associated grading chart, he did have his pundits among the football powers-that-be.
An AFC personnel director believed Mills was the second-best rookie quarterback last season. The Stanford product completed 66.8% of his passes for 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, and it was enough, up to this point, for Houston to abstain from upgrading the position via trade, free agency or the draft. Garoppolo is still floating out there as a potential trade candidate, however.
The Texans and Atlanta Falcons have the lowest NFL win total betting odds listed for the 2022 season at an over/under of 4.5 wins. Houston still isn’t providing Mills with considerable help, as his top playmakers are wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Chris Conley, running backs Rex Burkhead, Marlon Mack and Dameon Pierce and tight ends Pharaoh Brown and Brevin Jordan.
“Mills just doesn’t have enough help around him, but I do like him and his coaches, and he knows how to play the position,” a source said.
The 2023 NFL Draft quarterback class is expected to be considerably better than 2022’s, which was one of the worst in recent history. If Mills and the Texans struggle, then Houston could have its pick of next year’s class.
Some have surmised that Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio is playing the long game, biding his time for the 2023 NFL Draft and offseason. Many predict the quarterback talent in 2023 to far surpass 2022 or 2021, and if the Texans do indeed end this season with another poor win-loss total, they might have their pick of the litter.
Throws like this from Davis Mills are what many people around the building are excited about for the young quarterback entering year two in Houston.— Nick Schwager (@NickSchwagerNFL) July 20, 2022
With an improved offense built around offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, there should be a lot of improvement in 2022. pic.twitter.com/huY3yjacAf
However, even if they drafted the next Tom Brady, they still have a long way to go in upgrading the overall team talent and every other position.
So what’s Davis Mills to do? The only thing he can, give it his best shot and hope if things don’t work out Caserio sends him to a better team next off-season before his NFL window closes for good.
NFL stands for Not For Long...
In the meantime, 2022 should still provide plenty of highlight reel passing plays involving Davis Mills, Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins. With the defense not providing much to write home about, and no real run game threat to speak of, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will need to rely on Mills’ big arm, Cooks’ fleet feet and Collins’ oversized frame to move the ball.