The Texans’ offense, directed by Pep Hamilton, has been leaning into a new look that has raised some eyebrows around the league after moving away from Kyle Allen as the starter. In the last two games, Jeff Driskel and Davis Mills have alternated taking snaps under center to confuse defenses, and the results have been close finishes against two of the best teams in the NFL.
Texans Turning Jeff Driskel Into Taysom Hill?
Jeff Driskel is the definition of a unique player in the NFL right now. He’s built like a tight-end, plays at quarterback, prefers to run the ball rather than pass it, and initiates contact every chance he gets. So how exactly is the addition of Jeff Driskel giving NFL defenses so much trouble? The answer lies in the suddenness of the change.
When Jeff Driskel rolled out against the Cowboys, it was likely a surprise to most of the defensive unit. They’d been preparing to face off against Davis Mills under center, who has been historically more of a pocket passer. But, without proper film study preparation, most of the defense had to guess from one play to the next, allowing Driskel to exploit gaps for extra yardage.
Driskel even has some prowess in the passing game, throwing a nice pass to Amari Rodgers for a touchdown on a scramble to the right side of the field. However, his greatest weakness is making the right reads in tight situations. The Texans have run a lot of RPO (run-pass-option) when Driskel is in shotgun, and he shows a pattern of wanting to keep the ball even when the back has a better initial look. This happened on a goal-line stand by the Cowboy’s defense, where Driskel failed to get three yards on three attempts. He ran out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage against the Chiefs, yielding the game’s only sack.
Texans Leaning On Davis Mills And He’s Delivering
Davis Mills: what a conundrum. He was disappointing to start this season, but after being benched, he has easily played his best ball of the year. Most notably, Mills has improved his ability to take care of the ball since resuming the starting role. With 11 interceptions through his first ten games, he has managed only one in the last two, which came on a last-minute hail mary to end the game.
Mills has looked decisive, aggressive, and accurate over the last few weeks, although he is still prone to his usual slew of mistakes. One play, he’s threading a beautiful touchdown pass to the tight end, and the next, he’s self-fumbling the game away in overtime. But mistakes aside, it’s hard to deny that Mills has been slinging the rock despite the absence of solid receivers.
One substantial improvement to look at for Mills is the elusiveness he’s shown in the pocket. From moving away from pressure to being willing to scramble, he’s been prioritizing working on his mobility. For example, he took a 17-yard run to the house against the Chiefs to put the Texans up 14-7. He also spent time navigating the pocket, even causing defenders to miss on open-field tackles.
The truth is that Jeff Driskel has helped the offensive woes of the Texans, but Davis Mills is driving the offensive turn-around for the team. He’s been making the necessary throws to keep drives alive and connecting with the various backup receivers that have been taking the field in the absence of Collins and Cooks. Driskel has done an excellent job netting positive yards on early downs, but he seems like a far cry from an answer at the position for any length of time. As a result, the Texans either need Davis Mills to cement himself as a viable option or look to the 2023 draft for a permanent player.