Two regular season games; two terrible outcomes for the Houston Texans. Both games saw the Texans go into the 4th quarter with leads over their opponents. Both 4th quarters brought chaos and misery to Houston. This is not a trend that the Texans want to be setting, especially to start off the season. Why does Davis Mills struggle so much in the 4th quarter, and how can he stop this before it becomes a pattern?
Davis Mills, On Paper
So far it’s been a rough start. Right now Mills is ranked 21st in passing yards and tied for 17th in TDs on PFF, and he has an overall rating of 62.1. He’s completed 56% of his passes for an average of 5.6 yards. And perhaps unfortunately, not all of his incompletions are occurring during the 4th quarter.
Mills seems to have substantial difficulty responding to opposing teams scoring points. In Week 1, nearly every time the Colts scored, the Texans’ next drive ended in a punt. The one exception was the Texans’ drive starting with 10:44 left in the 4th quarter. Mills was sacked on the 2nd play and fumbled the ball, to be recovered by Indianapolis.
Week 2’s game against the Broncos seemed like it might be different, after the Texans responded to a Broncos field goal with one of their own. But even on that drive, Davis Mills struggled. He went just 2/6 for 30 yards, with 3 of those incompletions leading them to have to settle for the field goal.
Davis Mills, Off Paper
One of the biggest problems with how some people perceive the NFL today is the weight they give to individual players. There are always going to be exceptional individuals who can put a whole team on their shoulders. But they’re the exceptions, the general rule is that football is always a team sport. Everyone has to pull their own weight or the whole team suffers, and that certainly seems to be a factor in Davis Mills’ performance so far this season.
Too many of Mills’ catchable passes have been dropped by receivers. Too many of those receivers have been given crummy routes that never have a chance to break out of coverage. And far too many times has the offensive line broken down in shambles. Mills was sacked 3 times in each of the last 2 games, including the one against the Colts that led to his lost fumble.
Ultimately, it’s not just Davis Mills’ fault that he has that 62.1 grade on PFF right now. Many of his passes are being caught behind the line of scrimmage, and not by his own choice. The line has been breaking down so often that plays routinely never develop. Receivers down the field just don’t have enough time to separate from defenders.
Davis Mills, The Human Being
Unfortunately for him, Davis Mills can’t control how the people around him perform on the field. He can certainly influence them, and try to get them to focus on overcoming their deficiencies. But this is his 2nd year in the NFL. Mills is turning 24 in October, he’s not a veteran QB who everyone will listen to and take notes from. Whipping the O-line into shape is what coaches get paid for.
The only thing Davis Mills needs to work on is Davis Mills, because he can’t keep playing like he has been and expect to keep his position as a starter. And while we can’t know what his thoughts are, we can make inferences from what we see. He struggles after opposing teams score, and in the 4th quarter when the game’s on the line. Nerves, anxiety, choking – whatever you want to call it is what Mills’ problem seems to be.
Honestly, Mills just needs to relax. Nobody’s expecting the Texans to go to the Super Bowl this year, or for him to throw 5,000 yards and 50 TDs. Those are issues we can look forward to down the road. So he should stop worrying, and just get back to having fun with the game. Because without fun, all the negative emotions and stress can be overwhelming. This can lead to poor decisions, or even worse no decision at all.
Don’t Give Up On Davis Mills
I can’t recommend to anyone that they pick up Davis Mills for their fantasy team this year. But nobody should give up on him altogether. He’s young and talented, and there’s still plenty of time for him to learn how to handle the stress of playing in the NFL. Although it certainly seems like that would be easier for him if the offensive line could give him some more time.