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The Bengals’ rise from irrelevance to Super Bowl serves as a lesson for other teams around the league: find a franchise quarterback and you never know.
Not only does newly hired Texans head coach Lovie Smith think the team will have that in his first season, but he also thinks Houston has a chance to be the Cincinnati of 2022.
“Why not us,” Smith proudly told Peter King in Football Morning in America, via The Spun.
“We won four games this year. The Bengals won four the year before, and this was a big year for them,” Smith said. “We don’t have to wonder—we just saw a team do it. Someone’s going to make that jump. Someone always does. Why not us?”
Joe Burrow made the jump for the Bengals in 2021, becoming exactly what Cincinnati was banking on when they drafted him first overall out of LSU in the 2020 NFL Draft. Returning from a torn ACL during his rookie season, Burrow endured 70 sacks this season to nearly lead the Bengals to victory in Super Bowl LVI against the Rams.
Rookie Davis Mills, meanwhile, was thrust into a tough situation in Houston. With Deshaun Watson sitting out the entire season and Tyrod Taylor dealing with injuries, Mills started 11 games with perhaps the weakest offensive weaponry in the league at his disposal.
Mills managed to throw for 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 66.8% passing. While Smith didn’t outright give the vote of confidence for Mills to start in 2022, he did say that he was a good quarterback. Holding the third overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Smith said he expects something positive to come out of that selection.
With pricey veterans Brandin Cooks, Laremy Tunsil and Watson all inevitably set to be traded this offseason per reports, Houston is expected to have both the money and draft capital to improve its roster.
“What gives me optimism is… I got a chance to see Davis Mills. How many special quarterbacks are there out there? There’s a few. But there’s a lot of good quarterbacks. I think we will have a good quarterback for the Houston Texans,” Smith said. “We have the third pick in the draft right now.
“There’s a possibility of us getting a great quarterback added to our team, or a lot of draft picks to get in more players. Something positive’s going to come out of that.”
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