Texans Starting Keenum, Yates as Backup (Commentary)

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Houston Texans’ third string quarterback Case Keenum gets his first start as a Houston Texan this Sunday after beleaguered first string quarterback Matt Schaub injured his ankle in last week’s game against the St. Louis Rams.

Keenum may join a group of backups that got their chance on the back of the first and second string’s injuries or inadequacies. If he has a good showing, he may keep the job.

Coach Kubiak has stood beside Schaub through thick and thin, but like any other player in the NFL, injuries can sideline a career or end it.

Not saying that Schaub is out for the count, but the injury on top of the pressure brought on by Houston’s uninspiring season thus far may be enough to have Schaub and the Texans discussing his future elsewhere.

One would think that after seven years and Houston’s only playoff appearance, Schaub would have some leverage, but this league is about current performance. Past glories aside, even Peyton Manning’s impressive 14-year legacy in Indy was not enough to keep him with the Colts when it came down to money.

Just ask Jim Irsay.

Despite his time with the Texans, backup quarterback T. J. Yates does not appear to be a viable option. When he took over for Schaub last week he managed to add to Houston’s pick-6 fiasco.  Even though he has a decent showing in the 2011 playoff game he actually won, but his style of gameplay is too Schaub-esque, apparently.

With Keenum, Kubiak hopes to inject life and energy into Houston’s offense. With the offense getting going, the defense should be inspired to step up and contribute to getting their team back on the field to keep the scoring drives going.

Keenum’s arm is not as strong as Schaub’s or Yates’, but he is something different. Since the same thing is not working, something different just might. The Broncos got a spark from Tebow, so perhaps the Texans can get a fire going with Keenum.

Standing in the way of Keenum’s successful first showing of course is Andy Reid’s Chiefs. Undefeated and relentless, KC may put a damper on Keenum’s debut in Arrowhead Stadium. Never mind the Chiefs fans broke the Guinness world record for outdoor crowd roar last week. That stadium is always overflowing with the red and Keenum has to start in front of a crowd that is completely dedicated to their team.

On top of that, KC’s defense is ranked fifth in the league, so Keenum will be ruthlessly targeted all day long. If his offensive line does not stand strong, it will be a very rude awakening for Keenum.

People close to Kubiak say he “loves” Keenum and has been extolling the virtues and “raw potential.”  Keenum has not been active for the Texans since he signed as an undrafted rookie before last season. The last time Keenum actually played a game was in at the Cotton Bowl in January 2011. During that game he threw 532 yards and three touchdowns for University of Houston, beating Penn State 30-14.

Keenum was the NCAA FBS all-time leader with 19,217 passing yards, 1546 completions and 155 touchdown passes.

Needless to say, college football heroics do not always translate directly to NFL success. Kubiak and the Texans are leaning hard on Keenum today, and may continue to lean upon him. All of Houston’s hopes are pinned on his ability to carry a game in the professional league. Is it too much to ask of a young quarterback in his first game?

Terrelle Pryor, Andre Luck and Robert Griffin III got it done.  Now, it is Keenum’s turn.


Commentary by: Brandi Tasby

Case Keenum Starting



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