Important lessons learned: Why Texans QB situation is cut-and-dry
As the Houston Texans week of OTAs winds down, we’re told that Davis Mills and C.J. Stroud are sharing QB1 snaps, and it’s an open competition for the starting quarterback job.
“I’m competing for that starting job,” Mills told reporters on Tuesday. “Since I’ve been drafted in the NFL, I have been in a competition. I don’t think anything is going to change.”
Oh it’s going to change.
The Texans should say right now that Stroud will be the starter when the Texans open their 2023 season against the Baltimore Ravens and put this silly photo op to rest. The Texans didn’t draft Stroud at No. 2 and give him $36 million guaranteed over four years, including a $25 million bonus just for scribbling his name on a contract, to sit and watch Mills run this team to another three or four-win season.
Granted, Stroud is an unproven talent at the NFL level. Mills is. And that’s why there’s not really a competition for the starting quarterback job.
And that’s the smart thing for the Texans to do. They just bought a 2023 model luxury car – why let it sit in the garage while they take their 3-year-old economy car to work?
Maybe the Texans are insisting that Stroud has to earn the starting job to put a burr under his saddle. But if the Texans’ goal is to win a Super Bowl in coming years, Stroud is their best bet.
Even if they have to suffer another losing season, like the last three when they won three games, four games and four games.
As Michael Corleone said, “if history has taught us anything …”
Troy Aikman was 0-11 as a starter his rookie season for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. He threw nine touchdowns and 18 interceptions. The Cowboys finished 1-15 that season.
Aikman won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys.
Peyton Manning went 3-13 as a starter his rookie season for the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. He threw 26 touchdowns and a league-leading 28 interceptions.
Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl with the Colts and later another one with the Broncos.
Eli Manning went 1-6 as a starter his rookie season with the New York Giants in 2004. He threw six touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Giants went 6-10 that year.
Eli Manning won two Super Bowls with the Giants.
John Elway went 4-6 as a starter his rookie season with the Denver Broncos in 1983. He threw seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Elway won two Super Bowls with the Broncos.
In 1965 the New York Jets drafted two quarterbacks: Joe Namath from Alabama and John Huarte from Notre Dame. The Heisman Trophy winner that season: Huarte, not Namath. The Jets signed Namath to a record-smashing $427,000 contract. Huarte got half that.
Namath went 3-5-1 as a starter his rookie season. Four years later he led the Jets to a historic upset over the Colts in the Super Bowl. Huarte never saw the field for the Jets and was traded to Patriots the following season.
Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson all started as rookies and later won the Super Bowl.
Sure, Aaron Rodgers sat on the bench for three seasons before becoming a Super Bowl quarterback. But he sat behind Brett Favre. Recently Jordan Love had to sit three seasons behind Rodgers.
Davis Mills is no Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. There’s no reason for C.J. Stroud to have to wait to start for the Texans. What do the Texans have to lose, besides another 12 or 13 games?
Of course, being drafted No. 2 and starting immediately doesn’t always lead to Super Bowl glory.
In 1998, the San Diego Chargers drafted can't miss, physical specimen Ryan Leaf at No. 2 behind Peyton Manning. Leaf was named QB1 and threw two touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his nightmare rookie season. Head coach Kevin Gilbride (remember him?) was fired after six games.
Leaf finished his brief career with 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. Deadspin ranked Leaf as the sixth-worst player in NFL history. Some say Deadspin was too kind. He later spent almost as many months in prison (32) as he did as an active player (36).