Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gary McCullough/AP/Shutterstock (13452188bw) Houston Texans quarterback Kyle Allen (3) throws a pass during warm-ups before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in Jacksonville, Fla Texans Jaguars Football, Jacksonville, United States – 09 Oct 2022
Although coach Lovie Smith refused to confirm it after Wednesday’s practice, the Texans have benched starting quarterback Davis Mills and replaced him with Kyle Allen.
Starting Allen in Sunday’s game at Miami is a wise decision because Mills has struggled in his second season and his first with Pep Hamilton as the offensive coordinator and play-caller for a team with an NFL-worst 1-8-1 record and a five-game losing streak.
What Smith did confirm to the media is that he will not be replacing Hamilton as the play-caller for the NFL’s worst offense that is averaging 285.9 yards a game.
“Absolutely not,” Smith said during his regular session with the media. “Have I considered a change at play-caller? No. All our coaches are working their butt off. Are we getting the results? No. So, all those kind of questions like that, I think you know the answer. It’s no.”
If the Texans continue to look as pathetic on offense as they have over the last four games, Smith may have no choice but to give the play-calling responsibilities to another offensive assistant. If he does not, and the Texans continue to wallow at the bottom of every NFL ranking, it could cost Smith his job.
The Texans have a five-game losing streak. During their last four defeats, they have averaged 13.2 points. After getting sacked 13 times in the first six games, Mills has been sacked 15 in his last four.
During that four-game stretch against the Titans, Eagles, Giants, and Commanders, Mills has failed to complete 60 percent of his passes. He has thrown four touchdown passes and six interceptions. He goes to the bench with 11 touchdowns and a league-high 11 interceptions.
After showing so much promise in the last five games of his rookie season with Tim Kelly as his offensive coordinator and play-caller, Mills has taken a major step backward under Hamilton.
Mills, who threw a pick-six on the Texans’ first possession in Sunday’s 23-10 loss to Washington, leads the NFL in bad throws, according to Pro Football Reference’s advanced stats for QB accuracy.
“I think he’s probably a microcosm of the team,” general manager Nick Caserio said Wednesday morning on Sports Radio 610’s Payne & Pendergast Show. “He’s done some things that have been decent and other things he hasn’t done as well. The most important quality a quarterback has to do is take care of the football. That hasn’t necessarily been the case.
“I think Davis has a bright future (but) any time you put your team in the position early in the game (and) give the defense a chance to score; it just puts the whole team behind the eight ball. There’s been some good things (but) there hasn’t been enough of them collectively. There’s been too much inconsistency.”
The offense has been so bad it screamed for change, and Smith has provided it by selecting Allen over Mills, even though he wouldn’t admit it. He said he didn’t want to tip his hand to the Dolphins, who are favored by 11 ½ points.
The truth is Miami does not care who starts at quarterback for the Texans. The Dolphins are 7-3 and threatening Buffalo for the AFC East title. They know how bad the Texans’ offense is, no matter who plays quarterback.
“I do not announce who is starting through the week,” Smith said to reporters. “We have a starting lineup. When it changes, we’ll let you know. But during the week, of course, we’re not going to announce anything like that. I think that would give the opponent an advantage.
“We practice during the week, and I’m not going to go into any of our game plan and what we’re going to do. We try to improve every position. Coaching-wise, we try to improve from play-to-play, not necessarily just from game-to-game. It’s like that at every position.”
Which is one reason Allen is starting.
On a day when Smith was tight-lipped about his quarterback change, the Jets announced Zach Wilson would be replaced by Mike White and that Joe Flacco would be the backup. Wilson, the second overall pick in last year’s draft, will be inactive.
It was pointed out to Smith how Jets’ coach Robert Saleh handled their change at quarterback compared to the Texans.
“It doesn’t matter how the Jets do it,” Smith said. “This is how we do it. I don’t publicly go out and talk about any of those things until the team is out there (Sunday). I couldn’t care less what anybody else does, so we’re not even going down that road.”
The Texans are going down the road with Allen, who is making his first start since Nov. 11 of the 2020 season when he played for Washington. He suffered a season-ending broken ankle in a three-point loss to the Giants. In the previous game, Allen threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions and compiled a 111.1 rating in a 25-3 victory over the Cowboys.
In his only season as a starter, Allen was 5-7 for the Panthers in 2019, including a 16-10 victory over the Texans at NRG Stadium.
Allen, a five-year veteran, has a career record of 7-10. He has completed 63.1 percent of his passes and has thrown for 4,318 yards. He has 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, and an 84.9 rating.
Will the offense be any better with Allen executing Hamilton’s play calls? It will be interesting to find out, and every Texans’ fan knows one thing: The offense can’t get any worse.
(John McClain writes four columns a week for GallerySports.com. He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Monday and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on SportsRadio610.com).