Lovie Smith: Davis Mills remains Texans' QB1

Texans coach Lovie Smith was unequivocal and firm in his stance Monday regarding struggling quarterback Davis Mills.

Although Mills has had problems in his second NFL season following an encouraging end to his rookie year, including a pair of interceptions Sunday during the winless Texans' loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, Smith was adamant that he is not contemplating a change under center.

Mills will remain the AFC South franchise's QB1 after the Texans fell to 0-3-1 for the season. The Texans rallied back from a 27-7 deficit, but it ultimately wasn't enough to win their first game of the season.

"We're not making a change at the quarterback position," Smith said Monday at NRG Stadium. "We all need to do better. You know who was our quarterback to possibly take the lead at the end? It was Davis Mills. He's our quarterback."

Smith had a passer rating of 102.4 with 1,258 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions in his final five games of his rookie season. So far this season, Mills has had pedestrian performances as he has not been consistent in his accuracy and decision-making. He has played poorly in the fourth quarter, on third downs and in the red zone.

In the fourth quarter, Mills has completed 16 of 33 passes (48.48 percent) for 216 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while being sacked six times.

In the red zone, he's 3 of 9 for 56 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

On third downs, Mills has completed 21 of 40 passes for 209 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and has been sacked five times.

"We can't turn it on and turn it off when we want to, when we need to go down and score, like we did at the start of the second half," Mills said. "We've got to do that the whole game. Continue to find ways to get the ball to the guys out in space and let them make plays."

Mills has completed just 62 percent of his throws, down from 66.8 percent as a rookie when he passed for 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for an 88.8 passer rating.

This season, Mills has passed for 908 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.

"We just simply, as an offense, didn't start fast," wide receiver Brandin Cooks said. "So the past four weeks have been absolutely frustrating as a competitor. No question."

Smith isn't pointing the finger at Mills. If anything, he's seeing progress from the former third-round draft pick from Stanford.

Mills sailed a pass intended for wide receiver Nico Collins in the first quarter, getting off to a bad start as the takeaway led to Herbert's touchdown pass to tight end Gerald Everett.

In falling behind 27-7 at halftime, Mills had completed 13 of 16 passes for 76 yards.

Mills did throw his first touchdown of the season to a wide receiver, connecting with Cooks. And he found backup running back Rex Burkhead for another score along with a 58-yard pass to Collins.

"All eyes are on the quarterback, but there was a lot more," Smith said. "We came back. In order for that to happen, our quarterback had to hit some passes. He did. We need to protect better. As far as pushing the ball down the football field, I thought at times we did do that, but we're not where we need to be in our passing game, just like we aren't in anything else. ..

"I like the way the team fought back, but we didn't finish. You also need to finish the game, and we didn't finish the way we need to."

Mills entered Sunday with 14 touchdown passes and one interception in his eight career games at NRG Stadium.

This marked his first two-interception game at home. The Texans' fans booed several times after unsuccessful drives.

"We can't turn it on and turn it off when we want to," Mills said. "When we need to go down and score like we did at the start of the second half, we have to do that the whole game. Continue to find ways to get the ball to the guys out in space and let them make plays.

“First four games are close. Good teams have to find a way to win late in the game, and we haven't done that yet. Just have to keep fighting for it. We still have a long season ahead of us. All it takes is one. Just have to get that one win and start building some momentum, and it will carry on through the rest of the season. Biggest thing is start fast and then finish faster.”

Mills is 2-12-1 as a starter overall since his arrival in Houston, passing for 3,572 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

He's a much different player altogether in home games than he is on the road.

In eight career games at NRG Stadium, Mills has passed for 2,211 yards, 16 touchdowns and three interceptions for a 105.7 passer rating.

On the road, in eight games, Mills has completed just 60.98 percent of his throws for 1,361 yards, five touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a 64.1 passer rating.

“Not too much into that," Smith said last week when asked about the difference in Mills' performances home and away. "I think it's a small body of work to start writing things in ink right now."

The Texans decided not to draft a quarterback on the heels of Mills' impressive finish to last season.

The Texans are remaining patient with Mills. As a rebuilding franchise, that's the smart play. And Mills remains a young quarterback with a limited amount of games under his belt.

“Technically, he’s not really a sophomore," offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said last week. "He’s still learning on the job. You can’t teach experience. We recognize that there’s a reason that he’s our starting quarterback and that goes for every position on the offense. We feel like he can do the job. We’ll all get better at being more consistent at doing our jobs.”


Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Los Angeles Chargers v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

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