Houston knew 2021 would be a bit of an uphill climb, and it grew steeper when the Texans lost Tyrod Taylor to injury in Week 2.
Since returning, Taylor's recent play hasn't made things any easier on the struggling Texans, who reached a new low at quarterback Sunday when coach David Culley benched Taylor in favor of rookie Davis Mills. The move wasn't a passing of a torch, as Mills had already seen significant playing time this season out of necessity, but one made because Houston wasn't putting up a fight -- and Taylor wasn't exactly on the verge of landing a haymaker.
Taylor might not step back into the ring, as Culley did not commit to continuing forward with Taylor as the team's starter following Houston's 31-0 loss to Indianapolis.
"When you don't score any points during a game, you evaluate everything," Culley said, via ESPN. Culley later said Monday morning that they're continuing to evaluate the QB position and will make a decision between Taylor and Mills later in the week. Houston places the Seahawks in Week 14.
Taylor exited Sunday's loss in the third quarter due to a wrist injury, but was healthy enough to return, according to a team spokesperson. He instead spent the rest of the game on the bench.
"He probably could have came back into the game if we needed him to, but I don't know how effective he would have been in throwing the football," Culley said.
Mills wasn't much better, completing 6 of 14 passes for 49 yards. He finished with a passer rating of 52.4, ahead of Taylor's mark of 16.4 for the day.
The change under center came amid a season headed nowhere. At 2-10, the Texans can't hope for much more than to compete on a weekly basis. It seems neither quarterback is suited to lift them out of their struggles, especially judging by Taylor's recent play, which has included three passer ratings below 70 in his last four games.
Of course, Taylor isn't playing with a cast of all-stars capable of helping him out. Houston lacks talent and has sent playmakers elsewhere during the season, including running backs Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay, and receiver Anthony Miller.
The value in playing Mills over Taylor exists solely in the research department, with Houston potentially gaining a better idea of what it has in the rookie if the Texans choose him over Taylor, a veteran journeyman whose best role is as a bridge quarterback. And as Culley acknowledged Sunday, Houston can't do much of anything right consistently enough to win games. No one is free from criticism.
That evaluation will help inform Culley on how he'll proceed going forward. He might also realize it's best to evaluate a youngster for the remainder of the 2021 season.