Just hours after news of the Deshaun Watson trade to Cleveland broke, Quarterback Davis Mills tweeted, "Let's work!"
Mills, now entering his second season, earned the starting role over veteran Tyrod Taylor for the final five games of the 2021 season. In his final game of the season, Mills finished with 301 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and 128.5 passer rating against the Tennessee Titans in Week 18.
"Davis has certainly earned an opportunity here, and that's kind of the extent of what he's earned," General Manager Nick Caserio said Saturday. "But I think he's excited about the chances that he has in front of him, and we'll see how it all unfolds."
The Texans drafted Mills in the third round (67th overall) last year. With Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton's ties to Stanford Head Coach David Shaw, there was a familiarity with the rookie quarterback.
After a hamstring injury to Taylor in Week 2 at Cleveland, Mills was thrust into the starting role. He would go on to start the next six games until Taylor returned off Injured Reserve. Later in the season, Mills was named the starter and showed tremendous growth in his final five games, throwing nine touchdown passes, two interceptions and a finishing with a 102.4 passer rating while leading the team to a 2-3 record in their 4-13 campaign.
In his latest "Football Morning in America" column this week, Peter King said Mills "intrigues" him and that he was optimistic about Hamilton having another season with the young quarterback.
At this year's NFL Combine, we caught up with other national media members to find out their thoughts on Mills entering Year 2. Here were some of their responses:
"He surpassed my expectations, I'll say, definitely," Chris Simms, NBC Sports and Pro Football Talk, said. "He's mature for a rookie quarterback as far as, by the way he plays, that's what impressed me. Coming out of Stanford is the fact of, 'Hey, he can go through reads. He plays really nice within the pocket and he's good at all of that stuff.' What I want to see in Year 2 is, OK, yeah, you improve on all that stuff. But now we need you to make three or four off-schedule plays, right? The defense won the play, everybody's covered. You've got to get out of the pocket and go run for 10, or you got to get out of the pocket and scramble and let somebody buy a little more time to get open and now throw a laser down the field. That, to me, is the next step I'd look for in Davis Mills."
"Continued development of the quarterback? That is what Pep is great at," Andrew Siciliano, NFL Network, said. "That is what certainly they would like to see for year number two, considering you know how few starts your quarterback actually had in college because of his knee injuries and because of his injury history. I think the sky's the limit. I think Pep is the right guy to do that."
"When we saw him get into the league, we saw that he has a ton of talent," Bucky Brooks, FOX Sports, said. "We saw it the second half of the season that the game slowed down for him. In Year 2, I think we can expect a big jump. One, because the system will stay the same, Two, Because Pep Hamilton will continue to put pressure on him to take his game up a notch. And because the game slows down, he should have an opportunity to kind of play it where he's in attack mode as opposed to just being reactionary. That should allow him to put up more numbers."
"He (Hamilton) just has a really good feel for helping these young quarterbacks take that next step which should be exciting because Davis Mills, last year, you saw the improvement as he went throughout the season," Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network, said. "And I think Pep being there is going to help him take another step."