Over the years of writing about football, watching football and talking about football, I have made friends through these football viewing avenues. One of the friends I’ve made is my friend Greg, who will be sending in questions for the podcast, and we’ll be talking about the Houston Texans, football stats, data analysis, and topics that come out of those three things.
Last week, Greg sent me a great question:
Question for BRB brains: What does Davis Mills look like this season? What is the key success measure and target?
This is the question for this week’s group reflection. These are our answers. Thanks again Greg.
It’s so difficult because he’s better than the quarterback who started the first five or six games and not as good as the one who finished the season. Honestly, if you take his numbers and project them over 17 games, I’d be happy. It probably ends with 24 touchdowns and about 15 interceptions. I don’t see him hitting either number because I see us chasing him more.
I just don’t see him as a long-term starter on a good football team. He could be the Chad Henne, Casey Keenum, Gardner Minshew type. They are currently solid backups or were in their prime. Once in a while they put on some really good games, but they are usually okay. I guess for a third round it should be fine. I’m rooting for them to take their QB of the future with their first pick of 2023.
By Davis Mills? Well, the fact that he was competent enough to not force the Texans, in theory, to go overboard for a quarterback prospect in a bad quarterback draft is like walking through Amen Corner at the Masters. tied. He did the minimum for the franchise.
As for shooting par to play in the field? I think if he plays like he did the last few games and not like he did in the beginning and the Texans are competitive in the majority of his starts. I don’t foresee a Joe Montana-like leap his second season, so he won’t win the NFL version of a major (i.e. get the Texans in the playoff position). However, if he’s a capable starter and can be a quality backup for the franchise’s next quarterback or the next team that employs him, then it’ll be like he made the cut in a major…and that in itself would be a significant achievement.
For my money, the average for Davis Mills is better than 30th by DYAR for all quarterbacks, not just those who qualify. That means he has to be better than stars like Taylor Heinicke, Brian Hoyer and Colt McCoy.
As mentioned earlier, Mills probably isn’t as bad as he was for the first part of the season, but he’s definitely not as good as he was at the end.
Par for Mills is just an improvement. The team around isn’t the best, but if he can show visible progress and improvement, that’s all you can really ask of a franchise quarterback with a serious talent issue.
I’m a firm believer in the fact that situation is critical for a young quarterback. While the Texans’ situation isn’t great, if Mills can show he can hide some of those flaws with his game, that’s a good place to start.
Par for the course on Davis Mills will be a 4:3 ratio TD to Interception. He had an 8:5 ratio last year (16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions) in 2021. Most average single-season quarterbacks have around 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions on the season, which would be perfect for this par. . I just want him to be average, that’s the best I can expect from him.
Many are high on Mills, which I am less than otherwise. It won’t help that he has a bucket of bolts to throw the ball, but in thirteen game matches I haven’t seen the mix of skill and precision throwing the ball to expect anything from excessive on his part. For Mills, from what I’ve seen, a mediocre season is a passing grade. C graduates with regards to the 2022 season.
Wins and losses will not be Mills’ scoring rubric. And to be honest, touchdowns and interceptions are too drastic an occasion for us to assess his performance. Instead, I recommend three stats for various reasons. First, the number of passes over 20 yards. These indicate big plays where Mills delivered a ball downfield against the defense. This will illustrate his ability to read defenses, find the open man, and make the right decision.
Second, the Redzone percentage. How often teams score when entering the red zone is a pure calculation of offensive skill. The more touchdowns a team scores in the red zone, the more games it wins. Even though the Texans have few trips to the red zone, it’s all about capitalizing on those opportunities.
Third, and this is less a statistic, but a completion rate under pressure. There is a legitimate argument about Mill’s mobility. Some think he is as still as a statue and some claim he ran 40 meters faster than Watson. Regardless, Mills will be under pressure throughout the season, and his ability to handle that pressure will signal his success not just this season but for his career.
This one is tough because the success of a quarterback is often directly tied to the success of the team as a whole. If the Texans only win five to six games, do the fans and the media blame Mills? Does he qualify as a “non-franchise quarterback” after only the second year? It’s hard to think the Texans will earn more than that number this year, so I fear that regardless of how well Mills performs, he could get bombarded in the 2023 offseason.
As far as numbers go, I want Mills to hit a season passing 4,000 yards, 20-plus touchdowns and 15-under interceptions. It’s not the highest bar, but we’re talking par for the course here. The key metric overall for me is improvement. If Mills can make a decent step across the board in terms of stats, wins, and leadership, I’ll be happy.
In the end, the par for Davis Mills will be the wins. A big talking point among fans was how Mills/Taylor were able to pull together the same record that Watson did with much of the same surrounding cast. With a mostly shrinking roster apart from a few potential impact recruits, people are eager to see staff progress translate into the win column. In terms of key metrics, I think a better sack rate would be a bigger indicator of his better pocket knowledge. It’s safe to expect the stats to increase with increased opportunity, but ultimately it will all come down to the record.
1) I need his deep ball rhythm to be successful. His raw numbers were good enough to fool some people into repeating that he was good at throwing from deep last year, but I think the actual throws were generally unimpressive. Need to see more and more of them that are well placed.
2) I need his pre-snapshot readings to take another evolution. They went from awful to “not bad” towards the end of the year. I need to see more good drops against area coverage where he anticipates the lanes.
3) He needs to speed up another step and take less bags. 7.3% sack rate last year…there were a few pullbacks where it seemed very slow to go from one reading. Again, better towards the end of the season, but I’d like to see that number reduced significantly.