4 crucial matchups to watch during Panthers at Texans in Week 3

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson /
2 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn /

Davis Mills vs. Carolina Panthers safeties

This Carolina Panthers secondary has been a real surprise to start the year, especially after preseason injuries and the lack of A.J. Bouye for the first two games. A large part of that was the back-end duo of Juston Burris and Jeremy Chinn.

Chinn has flourished in a return to his natural position, even if he hasn’t been the human highlight reel of last season, and Burris has benefitted greatly from having a star running mate alongside him, building off an impressive start to the 2020 season.

It’s a wonder how much better you can be when not worrying about someone else making a mistake.

While Burris did give up 69 yards in coverage, he did his job of being the safety net from which the position gets its name. Safeties aren’t necessarily meant to prevent catches but more so to prevent scores. And the former North Carolina State standout got an interception during the game to boot.

Davis Mills on the other hand didn’t have such a sterling performance in relief of Tyrod Taylor. There’s not a lot of tape on the former top recruit, but what we do have has the same consistent errors, including Sunday.

Mills has never been a particularly mobile quarterback which isn’t a bad thing if the accuracy and awareness are there, but they tend to take a vacation at points. This is evident with the dropoff from a 144.3 passer rating to only 58.1 after the injury as well as a couple of plays where he didn’t even react to blindside pressure.

Another thing the former Stanford signal-caller is known for is his love for deep shots which is not what this Houston Texans team has been built around in the early going. Taylor was thriving in the short game and when Mills came in with his high-risk style the offense sputtered and the Cleveland Browns defense capitalized.

This combination of deep throwing and inconsistent accuracy is what safeties, like Burris, thrive upon. His interception in Week 2 is a perfect example of this.

If this game gets out of hand early and Mills is forced to win the game with his arm, we could see a big day for Carolina’s secondary.