Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills clapped his hands together in frustration after throwing his second of three interceptions Saturday night against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was an ugly game for the Texans quarterbacks as they committed five turnovers, including one lost fumble apiece by Mills and starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
The Texans committed five turnovers during a 23-16 defeat to Tampa Bay as they wrapped up their preseason schedule at NRG Stadium.
“The first priority on offense is not to give up the ball, and we gave it up way too many times,” Texans coach David Culley said following the game. “One is too many. It doesn't matter how many you get on defense, when you turn it over on offense your chances of winning are very slim. And that was very disappointing, and that's something we have been doing a good job of up until (Saturday night).”
Mills got picked off by cornerback Dee Delaney on a sideline throw. Against the Buccaneers’ reserves, he threw a pair of touchdown passes to wide receivers in the second half to fellow rookie Nico Collins and Jordan Veasy.
In the first half, though, against the Buccaneers’ starters, Mills was 2 for 8 for 6 yards, no scores and two interceptions for a 0.0 passer rating at halftime. He finished 10 of 27 for 106 yards and a 34.4 passer rating and was sacked twice. His final interception was in the fourth quarter while trying to hit slot receiver Keke Coutee.
Taylor didn’t throw any interceptions, but has no touchdown passes in the preseason. He completed 6 of 9 passes for 31 yards against Tampa Bay.
“For sure, turning the ball over is definitely not a recipe for winning in this league, and that starts at the quarterback position,” Taylor said. “We can be better. I can be better, first and foremost, and we can be better as a unit. But I also think we did some good things out there. We just shot ourselves in the foot and then didn't give ourselves the best opportunity to be successful in the game with the turnovers. Always tough to overcome those.”
The errors came down to ball security with Taylor. With Mills, it was primarily a classic case of a young quarterback not looking off his primary read and locking onto his target.
“I have to look at the video, but the most part of that is they did a good job of stripping,” Culley said. “The one that Tyrod had, he was trying to make a play. He was trying to get down, and the guy came and ended up taking a ball from him, no excuse for that, but they did a good job of that just like we do, but it happens. When that happens though, your chance of having a chance to win a game goes way down, and we understand that.”
Taylor lost the football on a sack from rookie first-round draft pick Joe Tryon.
“Whenever you move the pocket, definitely have to have two hands on the ball,” Taylor said. “Guy came around from the back, poked it around, great play by him. But for me, more on the careless side. Could be better at that. Of course on third downs, you definitely want to see the chains move and have that opportunity to put it down and continue to extend the play. But he made a great play. I'll be better.”
The Texans’ offense wasn’t explosive during the preseason.
Taylor completed 12 of 18 passes for 81 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 76.4 passer rating.
A third-round draft pick from Stanford, Mills completed 31 of 65 throws for 477 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions for a 47.8 passer rating.
“I think we've progressed each day,” Taylor said. “ Obviously, preseason games are always tough to judge because you don't have your full group out there for every game and for every rep. You have to take into consideration the practices that we get, the game-like atmospheres that we have in practice as well as the game.
"So, I think that we've progressed. Obviously from a fan standpoint they have only seen us three times in the month that we've been practicing, but I think that we've taken great strides and it's just about us putting everything into one and going out and executing when September 12th comes around.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.