Davis Mills is the fifth rookie quarterback to start a game for the Texans. And no, I didn't have to look them up. I was here for all of them and remember them like they were last Tuesday.
Before we get started, Case Keenum is not in the group. He started in Year 2 of his career – Week 7, 2013. In 2012, he was an undrafted free agent and spent time on the practice squad.
David Carr was the first, of course. Everyone remembers the night as the Texans shocked Dallas 19-10 in 2002. Carr threw two TDs and a pick as he went 10-of-22 for 145 yards and was sacked six times. Laying out the numbers doesn't tell you the story of how great the night was.
The next time a rookie would start would be the following year at Jacksonville in December. The Texans were without Carr and backup Tony Banks. Dave Ragone was a third-round pick who had a great career at Louisville but started only two games as a pro. He went sub-50 percent and threw for only 71 yards in a tough 27-0 loss to the Jags.
There was little running help as only he and rookie Tony Hollings carried the ball, and the Jags were in command with Fred Taylor hammering his way for 163 yards and a score. Interestingly enough, both QBs in the game are now offensive coordinators in the NFC South, with Ragone at Atlanta and Byron Leftwich at Tampa Bay.
Another eight years would go by before a rookie quarterback would start for Houston. A week after coming off the bench in relief of an injured Matt Leinart, who was getting the start in place of the injured Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates started against Atlanta at NRG Stadium. The crowd was deafening as Houston racked up 162 rushing yards, and the Bulls on Parade defense held the Falcons to ten points in the win. Yates was 12-25 for 188 yards and a TD.
In 2017, Week 2, Deshaun Watson got his first start, as the Texans won, holding the Bengals to nine points in a Thursday night game in Cincinnati.
That's a 3-1 record for Texans rookie quarterbacks making their starting debuts. It's notable that two of the winners, Yates and Watson, had some playing time the week before, in relief. Also, three of the four rookies completed under 50 percent of their passes. Most importantly, the defenses, in the three wins, were outstanding, holding the opponent to ten points or less.
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