How Davis Mills Stands Out From Other Rookie QBs


Key takeaways from the Texans’ training on Wednesday as they prepared for Sunday’s game against the 49ers:

Mills needs more time in the red zone

Ahead of the 49ers game, the secret to the Texans scoring more points on offense is reaching more of the red zone so rookie QB Davis Mills can get down to business. Mills leads the league with a 113.2 rating in the red zone, including six touchdowns and no interceptions.

One problem is that the Texans have only reached the red zone 33 times, equaling Jacksonville to say the least in the league. They scored 17 touchdowns. Only Detroit scored less. They scored 153 points in the red zone, tying the Lions for 31st overall ahead of the Jaguars.

“We need to get more into the red zone,” coach David Culley said Wednesday when asked about Mills’ odds. “I would like to think that if we go further into the red zone and he’s still dealing with football, which he does, that says a lot.

“I think, more than anything, it talks about when we’re going there, (offensive coordinator) Tim (Kelly) and our offensive staff have done a good job at what they do there.”

Mills’ success in the red zone goes beyond his intercept touchdown differential. His 62.5 completion percentage is third in the NFL. He is second with an average per attempt of 4.67 yards. He is one of nine quarterbacks without interception in the red zone.

“Obviously the field is narrowing, (and) things are going a lot faster,” Culley said. “With a rookie quarterback and things going faster there, it’s really important that you make good decisions. He did a good job for that.

Mills vs other newbies

Davis Mills made nine starts. His record is 2-7. He threw for 2,200 yards, completed 66.6 percent, averaged 6.69 yards per attempt and had 12 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a rating of 86.2.

Let’s take a look at how Mills compares to the other four rookies, who were all first-round picks.

Mac Jones of New England was the most successful recruit. He’s 9-6 as a starter, has 3,313 yards, 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a rating of 90.2. He finished 67.2% and an average of 7.19 per attempt.

Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence is 2-13. He pitched for 3,225 yards, completed 58.9% and has nine touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 70.6 rating. He’s averaging 5.94 yards per attempt.

Zach Wilson of the Jets is 3-8 with 2,013 yards, a 56.7 passing percentage, a 67.9 rating, seven touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an average of 6.10 per attempt.

Chicago’s Justin Fields is 2-8. He finished 58.9% and has a score of 73.2. He threw seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He averages 6.93 per attempt.

With two games remaining for the rookies to continue to develop, you can argue that Mills was the second-best rookie starter behind Jones.

When the Patriots beat the Texans 25-22 in October at NRG Stadium, Mills outscored Jones.

Mills was 21 of 29 (72.4%) for 312 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He averaged 10.8 yards per attempt and scored a 141.7.

Jones was 23 of 30 (76.7%) for 231 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was averaging 7.7 yards and scoring 95.3.

The 49ers have a distinct Texan flavor

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, special teams coordinator Richard Hightower, receivers coach Wes Welker and linebackers coach Johnny Holland are former Texans. .

Shanahan, McDaniel, Hightower and Holland were coached by Gary Kubiak. Ryans played linebacker for Kubiak. Wes Welker coached under Bill O’Brien.

Klay Kubiak, one of Kubiak’s three sons, is in his first season in defensive quality control. He didn’t work for his father, but he spent a lot of time around NRG Stadium. He coached the last three years at Strake Jesuit before Shanahan hired him this year.

Shanahan has other former members of the Texan organization scattered around the 49ers. He also has defensive end Charles Omenihu, traded to the 49ers this season for a sixth-round pick in 2023.

On Sunday it will be especially interesting to watch Ryans, who is in his first season as coordinator replacing Robert Saleh, another former Texans assistant who is in his first season as head coach of the Jets.

Ryans, who played for the Texans from 2006-2011 and was promoted to inside linebackers coach, is leading a defense that’s 10th, including 11th against the run and seventh against the pass.

“They’ve been pretty consistent in their way of doing things,” said coach David Culley when asked if Ryan was a freshman coordinator.

Culley said the 49ers don’t blitz a lot.

“They keep the ball in front of (them) and they play good team defense,” he said. “They play defense like they did. What we saw on video, we expect him to do the same.

Jordan looking for a solid finish

After being inactive for the first seven games, rookie tight end Brevin Jordan continues to make a good impression on his teammates and coaches. In the 41-29 win over the Chargers, Jordan had four catches for 56 yards. He tied Chris Moore for most catches and had the most yards on the team.

At the start of the season, Jordan was undergoing a learning process to play in the NFL.

“At that time he didn’t know what he didn’t know, (but) he was learning,” Culley said. “He watched the veteran guys in front of him doing it the right way. He just waited his turn. He trained as if one day he was going to have this opportunity.

When Jordan had the opportunity, he took it. In seven games, he has 19 catches for 189 yards and three touchdowns.

“He did a lot of things in our (Boy Scout) team (and) did really well,” Culley said. “As the year went on you started to see him get a little better. You started to see him getting a little more comfortable. The opportunity presented itself and he did a good job.

Defense must contain Samuel

The Texans were fortunate enough to dodge Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, who scored 17 touchdowns. He missed Sunday’s game on the COVID-19 roster. They won’t have so much luck with Deebo Samuel of the 49ers.

Samuel, 6-0, 215, is a wide receiver who was elected to the Pro Bowl in his third season. But coach Kyle Shanahan also uses him as a running back. He carried 44 times for 301 yards, averaging 6.8 per carry and seven touchdowns.

Samuel became one of the league’s top receivers with 70 catches for 1,247 yards (17.8 average) and five touchdowns.

“Deebo is a very special person,” said cornerback Desmond King II. “He’s a guy who (likes) to have the ball in his hands. He can catch the ball. He’s a gadget guy, so we’re going to have to prepare for what he’s going to come up with. “

The Texans also need to worry about All-Pro tight end George Kittle (65 catches, 871 yards, six touchdowns), wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (46 for 625 and five) and running back Elijah Mitchell (759 yards and five touchdowns).


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