Davis Mills knows what has to change. The second-year quarterback and the Texans fell, 34-24, to the Chargers on Sunday at NRG Stadium. The remedy, he explained, is a simple one.
"Start fast and finish faster," Mills said.
It's obviously easier said than done. But the Texans' signal-caller, who at the end of the third and beginning of the final quarter helped pull Houston from a 17-point deficit to within a field goal of tying, stressed the need for more consistency on offense.
"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."
Things started in a rough way for Mills and the offense. He was picked off on the third play from scrimmage, and the next three drives ended in a punt, a missed field goal and another punt. Houston was staring up at a Chargers' squad holding a 21-0 advantage just five minutes into the second quarter. It was part of another "frustrating" effort, according to wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
"Today we just simply, as an offense, didn't start fast," Cooks said. "So the past four weeks have been absolutely frustrating as a competitor. No question."
The drive after Mills linked up with Rex Burkhead for an 8-yard scoring pass, Cooks caught his first touchdown of the season. It was an 18-yarder from Mills, with 10:02 left in the game. The ensuing extra point by Ka'imi Fairbairn pulled the Texans to within six points. Cooks finished with seven catches for 57 yards. Like Mills, he has an idea of what the Texans must do differently to get into the win column.
"Just getting back to work," Cooks said. "In those situations, being able to be situational masters. Being able to actually focus and hang in there, and stop biting ourselves in the foot. Whether it be penalties. Whether it be turnovers."
Mills threw a pair of interceptions in the game, and as a team, the Texans were penalized nine times for 67 yards. While Head Coach Lovie Smith acknowledged that Mills and company must play better, he also pointed to the defense needing to improve as well. Smith, though, pointed to some of what he saw as 'the good' in Mills' game versus Los Angeles.
"We were down 3-plus scores and we came back," Smith said. "In order for that to happen, our quarterback had to hit some passes. He did."
Ultimately, Mills completed 26-of-35 passes for 246 yards, and a quarterback rating of 88.5.
Mills and the Texans travel to Jacksonville in Week 5, and they'll face the Jaguars at noon next Sunday.