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Davis Mills: An All Too Familiar Story

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the nflFastR project and NFL NextGen Stats for the timely sources of data.

For those of you new to this, I will publish key QB stats each week judging how well the Colts passing game performed. Yes, O-Line, receivers, and play-calling impact these numbers but they are primarily QB measures. I will probably modify the charts throughout the season. Commentary will be brief but feel free to let me know in the comments that stats aren’t everything. (click charts for larger view)

NOTE: All references to rankings are of the top 32 QBs by dropbacks through the current week.

As bad as you think the Colts passing has been this year, the Texans have had it even worse. Davis Mills may have had the worst production of any QB this year, but its not entirely his fault.

(Data is only for games that Davis Mills started)

Against some of the easiest passing defenses (29th opd) and with one of the worst run games in the league (29th arsr), the Texans have implemented a run-first offense (28th edp). That may seem like an odd strategy, but the passing results will explain why.

Davis Mills has the 29th ranked YPA, which is driven by horrible accuracy (30th cpoe). He attempts passes with average depth (15th adot), but primarily completes the short ones (24th ay/c). His receivers give him decent YAC (12th), although it is lower than expected given the passing depth (24th yacoe).

He faces the 4th most pressure in the league (pr%), even though he gets rid of the ball quicker than average (18th). To me, that sounds like a bad O-line and according to ESPN and PFF I am right (21st PBWR, 29th PFF pass block grade).

Mills reacts to that pressure with a low abandoned attempt rate (24th aa%), which means instead of throwing the ball away, taking a sack or scrambling, he tries to complete the pass. This explains some of the accuracy issues and the shorter passes. It also might explain why he has the 5th highest turnover rate (to%). Forcing passes also doesn’t lend itself to getting a lot of first downs or TDs (30th 1st%, 24th td%).

The yardage efficiency is bad (28th ny/d) and the non-yardage efficiency is bad (turnovers, TDs, conversions), so one would think that means overall efficiency is bad. And one would be right, he is literally the least efficient QB in the league (32nd epa/d) . . . unless you include Sam Ehlinger, who actually has worse efficiency.

Here is the efficiency/success rate breakout by team for QBs with the most attempts (IND = Ryan).


Mill has had one good game this season and many disastrous ones.


Even though his attempts have been trending longer, his completions have not.


Nico Collins and Philip Dorsett are out, so look for Brandin Cooks, Chris Moore and Jordan Akins to split most of the targets.


His accuracy is consistently poor. That is a QB killer, but again, the 4th highest pressure rate might have something to do with that.


His last few games have seen longer passes, which has increased his time to throw. On the season, his TTT is actually a bit quicker than you would expect based on passing depth.


Nothing is good here, unless you count sack avoiding dump-offs behind the line of scrimmage.