NFL teams often add new wrinkles to their offense to gain an advantage over opponents.
On Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Texans added a big wrinkle when they activated 6-4, 235-pound QB Jeff Driskel. When Davis Mills was named the starter after two games on the bench, no one batted an eye at Driskel's third elevation off the practice squad. After all, the Texans took advantage Driskel's athleticism in Weeks 1 and 2 in a wildcat formation.
But this time was different. Driskel alternated plays with Mills and was involved in both the running and passing game. The two quarterbacks split the plays evenly, 32 snaps for each.
"I think it was a surprise for them," Texans DL Maliek Collins said. "I don't think they knew what was coming. Any time you have a surprise like that, Jeff (Driskel) being a lot more mobile, you see it's a difference you have to prepare for. When you've got a mobile quarterback versus someone who's standing in the pocket, that all makes a difference. Whether they stand in an 8.5-yard or 7.2-yard in the backfield. The lines and points you've got to rush to, it makes a big difference on how to get there. Obviously, the closer they are standing up in the pocket, seven yards is a little bit harder to win outside moves and really bend the corner. But when you've got someone standing that far up in the pocket, you want to win inside moves."
Collins has been on the opposing side facing Driskel, as the lone quarterback. During his 2019 campaign with the Cowboys, Collins recalls facing the Detroit Lions in Week 11. Driskel completed 15-of-26 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 109.3 passer rating. He also carried the ball eight times for 51 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Lions lost 35-27, but Collins still remembers the challenge he faced.
"I like Jeff," Collins said. "I played against Jeff when he was in Detroit in 2019, and I missed like three sacks on him. He was just hard to bring down in the pocket. I just remember it. I've always rooted for him because I know what type of quarterback he is."
For the Texans, is a two-quarterback offense sustainable? Houston lost its Week 14 game against the Cowboys, but not before completing 46.7 percent of third-down conversions, the second-highest mark this season and putting up 23 points, the highest since Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers, when Houston scored a season-high 24 points. The offensive line did not allow a sack to Dallas, who led the league in sacks and recorded at least 2.0 sacks per game. The o-line did have to make some minor adjustments blocking for two different quarterbacks, according to OL Tytus Howard.
"Every quarterback has different spots they draw back too, according to height," Howard said. "You have to know who's back there so you know you can't short set this guy maybe because it creates short edge for this quarterback. I think all our quarterbacks do a good job of trying to be consistent, be the same, so it helps us out a lot."
The Texans dual-QB offense with Mills and Driskel was innovative and effective throughout most of the game, until RB Dameon Pierce left with an ankle injury. Will the Texans use it again on Sunday in facing the offensive firepower of the Kansas City Chiefs? That remains to be seen.
"The two-quarterback system, that's what we did yesterday," Head Coach Lovie Smith said Monday. "No more than that. We'll see exactly what we do, if it gives us the best chance. We're just transitioning over to the Chiefs right now. We'll see how that gameplan goes."
The Texans will host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. Sunday's kickoff is set for noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
Tap to browse tickets for the Houston Texans next home game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs here.
Check out a gallery of black and white pictures from the Week 14 game against the Cowboys for Monochrome Monday presented by Modelo.