The Houston Texans were ineffective in the red zone in 2021. The third-place AFC South club posted a 51.4% conversion rate, the sixth-lowest in the NFL.
However, the Texans may have a chance to improve upon those numbers, which should aid the club in its campaign to post anything above four wins for the first time since 2019.
According to Doug Farrar from the Touchdown Wire, Davis Mills was the best quarterback last season going against “Red-2” goal line coverage. The Texans’ Week 18 finale against the Tennessee Titans was where the 2021 third-rounder from Stanford displayed his best attributes.
In certain goal-line situations, defenses will play “Red-2” coverage, in which a five-across look is presented to the quarterback. In Red-2, the cornerbacks squat and cover instead of playing press, the safeties run reads in which they drop down for any pass in their areas, the inside linebacker will play to the passing strength, and the seam/hook defenders read the quarterback and give the safeties support underneath. Matt Bowen has a great explanation here.
Who was the best quarterback against Red-2 coverage in 2021? Rookie Davis Mills of the Texans has an excellent case — he completed four of five passes for 34 yards, 28 air yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, a passer rating of 134.6, and an ANY/A of 14.2.
This seven-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola against the Titans in Week 18 is pretty nifty. Mills gets knocked off his spot, rolls left, sees nothing there, and has the presence of mind to hit Amendola to the other side of the end zone. Not bad for a rookie, and that acumen is one reason I had Mills as the NFL’s most underrated quarterback in 2021.
Six of Mills’ 16 touchdown passes last season came inside the 10-yard line. If the Texans are converting more in the red zone, it will be thanks to Mills and his ability to beat certain goal line coverages.
Texans WR Brandin Cooks talks about rookie Davis Mills’ growth on Sports Radio 610