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Dolphins to Face a Replacement QB ... and Other QB Issues

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith declined to officially announce his starter for the game at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 12, but the information came out anyway

On the same day New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh revealed that starting QB Zach Wilson would be replaced this week, Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith took a different approach to his team's own quarterback situation heading into their Week 12 game against the Miami Dolphins.

Smith, whose team is struggling through a 1-8-1, said Wednesday he would not make an announcement on his starting quarterback for the game at Hard Rock Stadium, explaining, "I think that will give the opponent the advantage."

But not long after, multiple reports indicated that a decision to make a change indeed had been made and the Texans would bench Davis Mills in favor of Kyle Allen.

After the Texans' 23-10 loss against the Washington Commanders, Smith said this the following day: “We're not pleased with where we are,” Smith said. “Do we need to do some things differently? Yes, and we will.”

Mills has started every game for Houston this season but has a mediocre 78.1 passer rating, after finishing with an 88.8 mark as a rookie third-round pick in 2021. Mills has 11 touchdown passes on the season, but also an NFL-high 11 interceptions.

Allen has 17 career starts on his NFL resume, including 12 for the Carolina Panthers in 2019, but he hasn't played this season and hasn't started a game since Week 9 of the 2020 season when he was with Washington.

Allen had a 99.3 passer rating with Washington in four starts that season but a dislocated ankle landed him on injured reserve.

THE 'COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE' ARGUMENT

Smith's public stance about not revealing his QB plans came shortly after Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel used the same reasoning while refusing to divulge the plans for offensive lineman Austin Jackson.

Jackson was inactive against the Cleveland Browns in Week 10, his first game back after spending two months on injured reserve because of a high ankle sprain.

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McDaniel said after Jackson returned to practice that he considered him his starting right tackle, but Jackson has position flexibility and the question is whether the Dolphins want to tinker with an offensive line coming off its best performance of the season.

Veteran Brandon Shell has started at right tackle the last several games and has, by all accounts, done a solid job. But then so has Robert Jones at left guard since he has replaced injured starter Liam Eichenberg.

With Terron Armstead, Connor Williams and Robert Hunt pretty much anchored at left tackle, center and right guard, respectively, the Dolphins have three logical options for the Houston game and beyond: Maintain the status quo from the Cleveland game, insert Jackson at right tackle and keep Jones at left guard, or insert Jackson at left guard and keep Shell at right tackle.

Based on McDaniel's comments Wednesday and his pattern in 2022, we likely won't know the answer until shortly before kickoff Sunday.

McDANIEL ON QBs AND THE W-LOSS RECORD

Back to Wilson, it's interesting to note that the Jets benched him despite his 5-2 record as a starter, which perhaps led to a question at McDaniel's media session Wednesday about the relevance of won-loss record when discussing a quarterback.

McDaniel gave a lengthy but interesting explanation with the general theme of, while understanding the importance of the position, quarterbacks don't win or lose games.

"I don't think people quite get how difficult of a job starting quarterback the National Football League is, or just quarterback in general," McDaniel said. "And why I say that is because you are touching the ball every play, even when you're not throwing it. The cohesion of your offense runs through you because your footwork and the run game has to be right, your cadence has to be right. And then on top of that, like a starting pitcher, compounding variables dictate narratives, and people are human. And that can wear on someone when you're giving your best effort. And a narrative comes up. And maybe you know, maybe sometimes you deserve it. Or maybe sometimes three people had MAs (missed assignments). And because of that you threw a pick, whatever it is.

"And if you're a good quarterback, it's even tougher because then you have to be a leader as well. And you have to live in a world where people are blaming you and you accept the blame to lead and protect your teammates. So I think you can lose games for your team as a quarterback, you can help win them. There won't ever be a win that you can do it in spite of a quarterback generally because you hold the ball every play and if you're turning it over, we know the ratios of that.

"But quarterbacks don't win or lose games. starting pitchers don't win or lose games. But when you're playing at a high level, you can have as big of impact as any person that relates to the Miami Dolphins, players, coach anybody. By nature, you have as strong an impact as any possible person, you're the biggest percentage piece of the pie, because you have so much responsibility."