Sean Pendergast

How Does Davis Mills' Support Stack Up Versus Other 2nd Year NFL QBs?

Does Davis Mills have improved support around him in Year 2?
Does Davis Mills have improved support around him in Year 2? Photo by Jack Gorman
Say what you will about Houston Texans second year QB Davis Mills. You may believe in him, or maybe you don't, but his head coach Lovie Smith believes in him unequivocally. When asked about Mills in his Monday press conference last week, here is what Smith said about Mills' prospects for this season and his belief in his young signal caller:
“I don’t think you can find an interview that I’ve done - it’s not gray, it’s in black and white. I believe in him for a good reason. I love him leading our team. We all had to perform this year. I have to do my job. Every coach, every player has to do that, but we like the way were going. Just like every other team around, it doesn’t matter what happened last year, we all have to start over again. I like the way we’re starting off. It does come down to the quarterback an awful lot. Everything you can do as a young quarterback, he’s done and he’s ready to take that next step. We’re going to give him all the tools that we think are necessary for him do to well and that’s not just offensively. That’s how we play defense and special teams.
That last part there, in bold, is what caught my attention — giving Davis Mills the "tools [they] think are necessary for him to do well." How good a job have the Texans done in that department? For basis of comparisons, I think the logical teams to throw into the sample pool for debate are the five other teams that will be starting second year quarterbacks this season.

So let's rank them, shall we? Here is my power ranking of the six teams with second year starting quarterbacks, based on how they've augmented the support structure for success around each of them:

6. JUSTIN FIELDS, Bears
The Bears have chosen to pull off the rare plan in which they draft a future franchise quarterback, and then one year later, begin tearing everything down around him. In 2021, they traded a first round pick to move up and draft Fields. A year later, they've fired his head coach, his GM, let his main target walk in free agency, and traded away the best player on their defense. The Bears have a very good chance of picking first in the 2023 draft, which means Field may be gone after two years.

5. MAC JONES, Patriots
The Patriots made the playoffs with Jones at the controls last season, and it looked like Bill Belichick might have his next franchise QB to carry him into his 70's and 80's. (NOTE: I am assuming Belichick will coach until he is 120 years old.) A year later, after OC Josh McDaniels left to coach the Raiders, Belichick has saddled Jones with some weird combination of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, two of the most laughable head coaching hires in recent years, as Jones' mentors. Add to this no real improvement of his weapons, and Jones is a major candidate for regression in 2022.

4. TREY LANCE, 49ers
Here's the thing with Trey Lance — with Jimmy Garoppolo restructuring his contract on Monday to reduce his cap figure significantly, there's a good chance that Lance might not even be the starter come midseason. Lance looked like hot garbage in the preseason against the Texans in the third preseason game. That said, if we're talking about improving support, the Niners didn't make any real big moves, but they did re-sign WR Deebo Samuel, who was asking for a trade, so addition by not subtracting, I suppose.

3. DAVIS MILLS, Texans
I think this is about where Mills should fall on the "improved support" scale, and this ranking is based largely on three things. First, the Texans fired head coach David Culley and OC Tim Kelly, and replaced them with Lovie Smith and Pep Hamilton, respectively. Major upgrade! Second, they got Mills a running game with the drafting of RB Dameon Pierce, and to a lesser extent, LG Kenyon Green. Finally, the defense should be improved with the high level additions of CB Derek Stingley and S Jalen Pitre in the draft.

2. TREVOR LAWRENCE, Jaguars
This is another case of improvement in support via subtraction. No longer is Lawrence saddled with Urban Meyer as his head coach. The Jags went and hired former Super Bowl champion head coach Doug Pederson, which should do wonders for Lawrence. Additionally, the Jags spent big on a wide receiver in free agency, bringing in Christian Kirk for $18 million per year.

1. ZACH WILSON, Jets
Wilson had the most interesting offseason individually of, maybe, any player in the NFL, as rumors swirled weeks ago about him having relations with his mom's best friend. Oddly, that got Wilson major street credit in the Jets' locker room. Hey, whatever floats you boat! On the field, the Jets went all out trying to make it work for Wilson, drafting WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall, and TE Jeremy Ruckert. There are no excuses for Wilson in Year 2.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast