Texans Must Close with Case Keenum for Better or Worse

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst INovember 23, 2013

Nov 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum (7) attempts a pass during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Texans 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What the Houston Texans did to Case Keenum in Week 11 can not happen again at any point during the 2013 season. 

The undrafted free agent turned starting quarterback was benched after the team's third drive of the third quarter with the score 28-17 in favor of the visiting Oakland Raiders

Up until that point, Keenum had completed 13 of his 24 attempts (54.1 percent) for 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  

Veteran Matt Schaub entered the game, and went on to go 12-of-25 (48 percent) for 155 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown or an interception, and when his pass intended for Andre Johnson fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired, the Texans lost 28-23. 

Following the defeat, head coach Gary Kubiak said the following when asked why Keenum was benched, via ESPN's Tania Ganguli:

Not converting on third downs. As a quarterback, I think if you want to be a big time quarterback in this league and lead your team and be successful, you need to keep your offense on the field and get first downs.

According to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, "The Texans wanted to increase their offensive tempo and Schaub, a 10-year veteran, was better equipped to handle in-game call changes that addressed protection issues."

He quoted Kubiak, who said, "I knew he could get all that done, and I thought it would be very difficult to put Case in that situation."

Houston finished the game a horrific 2-for-16 on third downs, but Schaub contributed five of those failed conversions. 

It was almost as if Keenum's rather impressive play during the three games he started before Week 11 was disregarded by Kubiak, and the leash he gave the former third-stringer was unfairly short. 

Before the outing against the Raiders, Keenum completed nearly 56 percent of his passes at a robust 8.05 yards per attempt while throwing seven touchdowns to zero interceptions. 

He proved to be a significant upgrade over Schaub, a guy Kubiak kept as the starter despite the following stat line in 2013:

Matt Schaub's 2013 Season
Completion %Yards Per AttemptTDsINTsQB Rating
Pro Football Reference

Oh, and he had four consecutive games with a pick-six. 

The Schaub Era is over in Houston. He's proven to be a hindrance in the past, fell flat in 2013 and, at 32, his ceiling has been reached. Playing him serves no purpose for the future of the Texans organization.

Just as important, Houston might have something with Keenum. He's shown enough flashes to inspire some hope that he has some potential as the Texans' franchise quarterback. 

The only way to find out if he's the answer is to let him play without having to be worried about being benched by his coach after a few three-and-outs.

He needs to experience everything a defense can throw at him, even if there are some bumps along the way. 

Lance Zierlein of The Sideline View, who also hosts a sports radio show in Houston, tweeted the following about Keenum's benching: 

@ChrisTrapasso I thought it was terrible move. Let the guy work through blitz issues, etc. Kubiak going to Schaub was incredibly detrimental

— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) November 21, 2013

Thankfully, Kubiak came to his senses when he named his starter for Week 12's home game against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars:

Kubiak: "Case will start Sunday. I have total confidence in him." #Texans

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) November 18, 2013

Quite the contradiction to how he felt about Keenum against the Raiders, isn't it?

Anyways, let's cross our fingers that Case Keenum, barring injury, will remain the Houston Texans' starting quarterback for the rest of the 2013 campaign. 


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