Entering Week 3 in the endlessly growing pile of power rankings, the Houston Texans have given those ever curious stackers of teams enough ammunition to put a fire behind the words “mediocre, bottom-five team.” A tie to a Colts team now embroiled in their own death spiral to begin the season and a prompt loss to the Broncos is all most analysts need to keep Houston at the bottom of the rankings. Even though a closer look at the woeful 9-point performance magnifies encouraging performances from the offensive line, rushing attack, and defense, none can wash away the capitulating feeling a 3 field goal offense places on Texans fans.
Trying to win any games like this is unsustainable. While there are good things to come out of their loss at Denver, the Texans must demand more development and progression from their passing offense if they want genuine progress to be made on both sides of the ball this year. Davis Mills must read the field faster, have better pocket presence, and attack downfield more frequently if he seeks to prove himself as an NFL starter.
Here’s where everyone has the Texans ranked entering Week 3:
31. Houston Texans (0-1-1)
Week 2 ranking: 30
Biggest early adjustment: Improve the passing game
Davis Mills hasn’t built on the momentum he generated from last season in the first two games. He has completed 56% of his passes and has a passer rating of 80. Through two games, the defense has played well, holding opponents to 18 points per game. But the Texans’ offense has failed to score more than 20 points, and a good amount of the blame is on Mills. He’s struggling on third downs (8-for-19 for 41 yards) and is completing only 36% of passes thrown beyond 10 yards (29th in the NFL). — DJ Bien-Aime
32. Houston Texans (0-1-1)
Previous rank: No. 28
It’s not too early to have serious concerns about the Texans’ offense. A week after Davis Mills and Co. disappeared in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Colts, Houston managed just 234 yards and three field goals in a 16-9 loss to the Broncos at Mile High. Mills also fumbled twice and averaged less than 5.0 yards per attempt in an uninspiring effort that included a four-and-out in the final minute. A bright spot for Houston? The defense, which repeatedly turned Denver away in the red zone and held Russell Wilson to just one touchdown pass. The Broncos were sloppy and begging to be picked off ... but the Texans weren’t up for the challenge.
PRO FOOTBALL TALK:
30. Texans (0-1-1; No. 29): “Work in progress” may be the T-shirt slogan, for a while.
31. Texans (30): If you combined their roster with Chicago’s, you might have a seven-win team. They’ll determine who’s better Sunday in Soldier Field in a can-miss affair.
30. Houston Texans (0-1-1, last week: 31)
29. Houston Texans (0-1-1)
Last week: Loss at Denver, 16–9
Next week: at Chicago
The Texans are not going to win a lot of games this year, but they will come awfully close to winning a respectable number of games this year against better opponents. That said, Davis Mills is currently operating at a -10 completion percentage over expectation, meaning that he’s completing 10% fewer passes than he should.
30. Houston Texans (0-1-1)
The defense played well against the Broncos, but they didn’t score a touchdown. You won’t win many games doing that, and Davis Mills has to be better.
32. Houston Texans (0-1-1)
Last Week: 30
Week 2 Result: Lost at Denver Broncos 16-9
On Sunday afternoon, fans of the Houston Texans were dealt a painful reminder: Their favorite team just isn’t very good.
On a day when the Broncos continually shot themselves in the foot, the Texans were unable to capitalize on Denver’s miscues. For the game, the Texans managed just 234 yards of offense and were held out of the end zone.
After the dispiriting loss, Texans tackle Laremy Tunsil tried to put some kind of positive spin on things.
“We’ve got to get better at finishing games,” Tunsil said. “Once we do that, we’ll be a great team.”
The reality is that Houston might well have the least talented roster in the NFL. In Week 1, the Texans couldn’t hold a lead against a Colts team that looks more and more deeply flawed by the week. That was followed up by a loss to a Broncos team that did everything in its power to hand the game to them.
The Texans don’t play a team that made the postseason last year until a trip to Las Vegas on October 23. But given how things have gone to date, it’s getting harder and harder to pinpoint weeks where the Texans have a real chance at earning wins.
31. Houston Texans (0-1-1, LW: 29)
Rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. hasn’t been perfect but it’s clear that the Texans made a really good pick when they took him third overall. As long as Stingley stays healthy he’s going to be a very good player. You can already see the potential in his best plays.
Now that that tie doesn’t look as good, there’s nothing keeping the Texans from getting buried right out of the gate. A number will never tell the full story of what the Texans have become, what they have turned into from their terrible previous year to now, but the story that isn’t being told is not one we can wear with pride. Their progression from aimless and terrible in 2021 to competent on defense and flailing on offense in 2022 is not a tale many are yearning to hear, and can you blame them after 9 points? There is intrigue - Dameon Pierce, Kenyon Green, Derek Stingley and Steven Nelson - all fascinating pieces to the puzzle, yet none to be more than window dressing on a team in desperate need of a spark to change their fate.
If Davis Mills is to be given his chance as a starting quarterback, if you believe he has shown enough to deserve an honest opportunity to start for an NFL team, this is it. This month is his chance to take a team with enough talent to win and use it to prove to everyone he’s a quarterback to be reckoned with. He has a defense, an adequate rushing attack, about as much time in the pocket as any other successful NFL quarterback, and receivers capable of getting open. It’s fun to root for the underdog quarterback that could be a diamond in the rough, but there comes a time where tangible, obvious progress needs to be made. For Davis Mills, the time is now, against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.