Texans' Nick Caserio evaluates rookie quarterback Davis Mills

The Texans are poised to make a quarterback change heading into Sunday's road game going back to veteran Tyrod Taylor as he has recovered from a Grade 2 hamstring strain suffered against the Cleveland Browns in the second game of the season.

What about rookie quarterback Davis Mills? How has Mills performed for the 1-7 Texans while going 0-6 as a starter?

It's been the usual up-and-down progression of a rookie quarterback.

Mills has passed for 1,357 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions for an 80.2 passer rating. The third-round draft pick from Stanford has been sacked 20 times. He has maintained his poise and displayed a steady, even-keel, unflappable personality. Mills has flashed some arm talent and mobility and toughness. He has also made some correctable mistakes in terms of throwing into coverage for interceptions. Mills, who doesn't have a good running game to complement his mostly short passes, has also shown he can shrug off a mistake. 

"Davis has said this, there’s been some good plays, and there’s been some plays that he would probably want to have back," Texans general manager Nick Caserio said. "At times, he’s played OK. He’s made some good decisions, he’s made some good throws. Other times, he’s probably made some sort of ill-advised plays or throws."

Mills’ performance against the New England Patriots was extremely encouraging as he displayed accuracy, mobility and an ability to throw on the run, completing 21 of 29 passes for a career-high three touchdown passes and zero interceptions for a 141.7 passer rating. He completed 12 of 13 passes on third and fourth down in that game for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

Los Angeles Rams v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

 It was a big-time game for Mills, especially in light of his four interceptions overall, 23.4 passer rating, and first-half passer rating of 0.0 with one completion and two interceptions during a loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Mills rallied the Texans a bit while orchestrating a hurry-up offense in the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach and the Rams having already pulled starting quarterback Matthew Stafford after three quarters while holding a commanding 38-0 lead. It wasn’t nearly enough, though, despite Mills completing 29 of 38 passes for 310 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a 106.3 passer rating.

Only New England Patriots rookie Mac Jones (90.1) has a higher passer rating than Mills, who rates ahead of Trevor Lawrence (74.0), Justin Fields (65.0) and Zach Wilson (63.0).

"Anyway, you go through the league, I would say specific to the rookie class, he’s probably been, other than Mac as competitive as the rest of them," Caserio said. "Again, he’s got a lot of work to do, he’s got a lot of progress in front of him. He’s made some progress in some areas. There are certainly some areas he can improve, and he’s certainly committed to doing that."

A former Pro Bowl selection, Taylor completed 10 of 11 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 144.3 passer rating before having to leave the Browns game at halftime after hurting while running for a touchdown with defensive end Myles Garrett swiping at his left leg. Taylor completed 70.5 percent of his throws for 416 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a career-high 122.9 passer rating before the injury.

"Tyrod, he’ll practice today, and we’ll evaluate it day to day, and ultimately, we’ll do what’s best for that particular week, what we feel gives us the best chance to win the game," Caserio said. "If Tyrod is prepared to play, and we feel that’s the way to go, then we’ll go with him. If we feel Davis is the way to go, then we’ll go with Davis.”

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.

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