The Houston Texans will go down one of two roads at the quarterback position in 2023. They will either punt on their quarterback of the future and cobble together the best situation they can; we have already explored that road. Or, they can draft their hopeful quarterback of the future with their first selection and then upgrade the quarterback room around him.
Either way, the implication is that whatever was happening in that room this season was not good enough. Of course, we will explore all options, but when you are talking backup quarterbacks there are a few criteria to consider. First, they need to be better than whatever Davis Mills, Kyle Allen, and Jeff Driskel showed last season. Second, they should know their role and support the new quarterback. Third, if they are able to do the same things as the new starter physically (read: mobility) then it will be that much more seamless.
Davis Mills— Houston Texans
26 games started, 63.6% completion rate, 6.6 YPA, 206.5 YPG, 5.4 RYPG, 33/25 TD/INT, 83.3 rating
No one really wants this, so I’m not going to waste any time giving you pros and cons. All that being said, you always want a frame of reference to start from. If you want a quarterback better than Mills then it would be instructive to know how good (or not good) Mills was. Therefore, any free agent that falls under the numbers above really shouldn’t be considered.
Teddy Bridgewater— Miami Dolphins
65 games started, 66.4% completion rate, 7.3 YPA, 193.8 YPG, 10.8 RYPG, 75/47 TD/INT, 90.5 rating
Pro: He does everything a little better than Mills. He is a little more accurate. He has a little more mobility. That makes him one notch above Mills as a quarterback. That won’t win you a ton of games, but he has proven able to win football games when he has to start a few games due to injury. He checks all three of the boxes listed above. He is mobile enough, he is an improvement, and he has served primarily as a backup the last several seasons.
Con: Bridgewater’s only real downside has been health. He did not play in the wild card game for the Dolphins when the team needed him most. When he was a Viking he lost his only real chance of starting due to a horrible knee injury. In short, he fails in the biggest category of all and that is in availability.
Jacoby Brisset— Cleveland Browns
48 games started, 61.1% completion rate, 6.6 YPA, 136.2 YPG, 11.8 RYPG, 48/23 TD/INT, 84.4 rating
Pro: You probably would only have to outbid Cleveland and then the question for Brisset is whether you want to wait around for Deshaun Watson to get hurt or whether you might get a few starts here and there with a rookie quarterback. In this past season, his numbers were considerably better across the board in terms of accuracy and QB rating. You’ll notice that he has fewer interceptions per start than most of the quarterbacks on this list.
Con: He’s limited physically. He can run, but he’s not a real threat and all of the other numbers show a guy you just don’t want to take chances with. So, he’s a good option if you want injury insurance but he probably is not a guy you want to start most of the season. I generally hate QB W/L records as a stat, because they aren’t one, but he is 18-30 as a starter. Take that for what it’s worth.
Andy Dalton— New Orleans Saints
162 games started, 62.5% completion rate, 7.1 YPA, 229.8 YPG, 8.8 RYPG, 244/144 TD/INT, 87.6 rating
Pro: I have said a few different times that Davis Mills ceiling was Dalton. So why not get the real version? I’ll be the first to admit that Dalton is limited. He isn’t all that mobile and he never had the strongest arm, but he had a two to one touchdown to interception ratio last year and four different seasons with 25 or more touchdown passes. Last season was his best in terms of rating since 2015, so he can still play some in the right system.
Con: Do you want a self-actualized Davis Mills as your backup or do you want something more? I suppose that depends on what you are really after. If you want Mills to be the best he can be then Dalton might be a really good addition. If you want the best football team you can put together or for the draftee to be the best he can be then you should be able to do better.
Case Keenum— Buffalo Bills
64 games started, 62.3% completion rate, 6.8 YPA, 190.8 YPG, 5.8 RYPG, 78/48 TD/INT, 85.2 rating
Pro: He checks off the box as someone that has been better than Mills. He does each thing a little better than Mills historically and he probably comes cheaper than the other guys on the list. When he was surrounded by a ton of talent in Minnesota he was good enough to get them to the NFC championship game. So, it isn’t all that crazy I suppose.
Con: I’d immediately start getting flashbacks to 2013 and 2014 when the Keenum truthers were banging the table for him to get a chance to play. If you take away that one season in Minnesota, he has never posted a QBR above 50 in any other season. Granted, EVERY other season has been better than what Mills has produced in that category, so he meets the basic criteria, but I’m afraid this addition might give many fans PTSD.
Gardner Mischew— Philadelphia Eagles
24 games started, 62.8% completion rate, 7.1 YPA, 207.3 YPG, 16.3 RYPG, 44/15 TD/INT, 93.1 rating
Pro: At first glance he appears to be all of the things. He is a better passer than Mills. He is more mobile than Mills. He has served as a quality backup for the past few seasons. He is an edgier version of Case Keenum and since he hasn’t been here, it might be seen as a breath of fresh air. The quarterback position has been rather stale for two seasons, so having someone with some personality to him would be a welcome sight.
Con: The two seasons in Jacksonville are doing a ton of the heavy lifting on those numbers. Since then he has been rather pedestrian. That means that he and Keenum are kind of kindred spirits of sorts. Both had brief periods of magic interspersed with other periods of mediocrity. Maybe he could find that magic again if he were placed in the right system with the right parts around him, but I’m not sure that would be here.