Opinion: Let’s be nice to Davis Mills

Mills won’t get to sit back and learn like most rookie quarterbacks.

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) (Ron Schwane, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Sports fans dream of having a franchise quarterback, because it obviously changes everything. Notably, your chances of winning at a high level.

Texans fans finally had that in Deshaun Watson. Over the years Watson had offensive weapons, the defense was stout, and special teams was solid as always.

But Thursday, as the Texans host the Carolina Panthers for Thursday night football, there will be no Deshaun Watson. Or J.J. Watt. Or Jadeveon Clowney. Or DeAndre Hopkins. Or... ok, you get it. The team is clearly rebuilding.

So after Tyrod Taylor (who looked promising in the first two games) went down with a hamstring injury, the Texans will now look to rookie Davis Mills of Stanford to guide them to a win and past Carolina’s tough defense. He has some veteran weapons; Anthony Miller will make his Texans debut, and veterans Mark Ingram and Brandin Cooks have expressed their belief in Mills.

“I think any time you have a different quarterback in the game, you’re doing what you can to try to play to his strengths,” said offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.

“Davis has done a good job since he’s got here coming in and putting himself in a position to go out and hopefully make that transition seamlessly. We’re going to still do what we can to make sure we’re putting him in a spot to be successful.”

As a pocket passer with a history of knee injuries, Mills needs to be protected.

“He’s been exactly what you want your backup quarterback to be,” said David Culley. “I just think he’ll be a lot more comfortable now, simply because he has been out there and against a very good defensive football team.”

Most quarterbacks have mediocre rookie years at best; Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, and even the QB who will be on the opposite sideline, Sam Darnold.

Davis Mills was drafted as a project; someone who can learn and develop. It’s not his fault he’s being thrown into the fire. Criticism is part of the NFL- but Thursday, I’ll give some grace to the rookie making his first NFL start.