11 critical observations from the Texans' 24-9 loss to the Panthers

11 critical observations from the Texans' 24-9 loss to the Panthers
Davis Mills made his first NFL start on Thursday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans couldn't get anything consistent on offense as they drop their second game to the Panthers 24-9. Here are 11 Observations from the loss.

1. Davis Mills is very much a rookie and very limited. Mills still struggles to be in a rhythm and makes numerous rookie mistakes. There are flashes of solid play, but he can't put it together very often. Mills was a project and is still a project.

2. Davis Mills has trouble figuring out pressure. The identification of pressure is something a lot of young quarterbacks struggle with, and with reps, he should be better. The problem is he will play some ferocious defenses in the next few weeks. Mills will have to learn on the fly.

3. With less than two minutes in the first half, expectations were low for the Texans on offense. Davis Mills was perfect, sans a spike to stop the clock, in leading a drive for a touchdown. The big play was a pass to Brandin Cooks and it finished with a touchdown pass to Anthony Miller. This was the best drive of his short NFL season. What worked here needs to be replicated into non-hurry situations.

4. Brandin Cooks is getting the bulk of the receptions and targets in this offense, and he is still successful. Cooks getting open non-stop despite being the sole dangerous receiver on this team will not stop being impressive anytime soon.

5. Joey Slye missed an extra point and it led to David Culley making another punt decision that drew criticism yet again. The Texans ended up punting despite being just four yards away from a first down. Slye was not comfortable with that range according to Culley, and so the team took a delay of game and punted. Culley didn't throw his kicker under the bus and that's an admirable move by him.

6. Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Greenard each recorded a sack. The young defensive linemen have to be building blocks for this team going forward.

7. The defensive line matched their combined numbers from the first two games in tackles for a loss and sacks. Despite the successful box score night, the pass rush is still so inconsistent it puts the defense in terrible positions trying to cover pass catchers.

8. Vernon Hargreaves was picked on by the Panthers. He had a very rough night for this defense against a talented receiving group. Stefon Diggs is next up for him.

9. There are good signs on this defense, but Lovie Smith has to get players healthy and find the perfect mix to maximize his talent each week.

10. Andre Roberts again looked lost on special teams despite being a specialist for this team. The team should look long and hard about replacing Roberts. The toughest part is Alex Erickson, who was in camp for the Texans, was the solid punt returner and slot receiver for the Panthers Thursday night.

11. Injuries and the short week with a rookie quarterback doomed the Texans. This is also a team that could look on the bright side and convince themselves they would be 2-1 or maybe 3-0 with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. He isn't the quarterback though; it is Davis Mills. And it will be for the future. So the team should strap in for their bumpy ride.

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Stephen A. will be pulling for the Texans, to say the least. Composite image by Jack Brame.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has his eyes set on Week 11 of the Cowboys schedule because CJ Stroud and the Houston Texans travel to Dallas to battle Dak Prescott and the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

He's excited to see if the Texans and Stroud can prove they have the best team and the top quarterback in the state of Texas. And we all know he loves nothing more than to rub it in when the Cowboys lose!

Check out the video above as Stephen A. breaks it all down!

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