3 Takeaways from Texans' Week 3 Loss
The Houston Texans went into Week 3 with low expectations.
No one was quite sure what to make of Davis Mills starting his first NFL game in place of Tyrod Taylor on a short week.
Mills had some decent moments in Thursday's loss to the Carolina Panthers, but he did not receive much help from his teammates.
The third-round pick out of Stanford did not have much support from his running backs or his offensive line and Brandin Cooks was his only reliable wide receiver.
Houston's defense did all it could to keep the AFC South side in the game, but it was worn down in the second half by Sam Darnold and Co.
The Texans now have 10 days to figure out how to come up with a better offensive approach around Mills before the Week 4 visit to Buffalo.
Davis Mills Showed Bright Spots
Houston did not have a completely hopeless offensive performance on Thursday.
Mills showed some positive signs in the pocket that the Texans' offensive staff can build off in the coming week.
Mills displayed the most promise on the final drive of the first half that produced a one-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller.
The rookie quarterback completed a 30-yard heave to Cooks to break open the Carolina secondary. He connected with Cooks on two other occasions on that series.
Mills produced a decent start to the first series of the second half as well. He completed three passes to begin the third quarter, but the drive stalled out at Carolina's 39-yard line.
Mills finished 19-of-28 with 168 yards. He did not look lost in the pocket when he had time to throw, but there were few opportunities in which he had a clear pocket to work with.
If Mills builds on the positive things he did in Week 3, Houston could have a competent offense moving forward.
Texans Need to Do More to Protect Mills Moving Forward
The rest of the Houston offense could not do much to support Mills.
The rookie quarterback was sacked on four occasions and the Carolina defense teed off on him with nine quarterback hits.
Carolina was able to unleash its pass-rush on Mills because its front seven did a terrific job of containing all three of Houston's running backs.
Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay and David Johnson combined for 37 rushing yards. They had one reception between them in the passing game.
The running back trio was unable to get out in the passing game because they were too busy blocking the relentless Carolina pass-rush.
Carolina executed its defensive game plan to near perfection and it took away the safety valves that the Houston offense had built it to help Mills.
The Texans have 10 days to figure out how to protect Mills against the Buffalo Bills defense on the road in Week 4.
If they come into that game with a better approach, the offense has a chance to put up a double-digit point total, like they did in the first two games with Taylor under center.
Houston's Defense Did All It Could to Remain in Game
Houston's defense did not get broken down until the fourth quarter.
The Texans conceded one touchdown in the first and third quarters and they did everything possible during that stretch to let the offense get back in the contest.
In the first half, the Texans forced three punts and they came up with a massive fourth-down stop in the red zone. That stop occurred on the same drive that Christian McCaffrey went out with his hamstring injury.
Carolina's offense started to wear down the Houston defense with some extended drives. The Panthers completed a nine-play drive with a Tommy Tremble rushing score, went 13 yards for a field goal across the third and fourth quarters and used a 12-play drive to finish off the contest.
Houston conceded 407 total yards, but it was able to force three sacks and two fumbles against Sam Darnold.
The Texans also contained the Panthers' weakened rushing attack. The Panthers did not have a run longer than 15 yards.
If Houston's defense gets a bit more support from its offense in Week 4 and beyond, it could be a strong enough unit to keep the team in games.