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

Case Keenum benching either a blunder or a poor attempt to save face

The Houston Texans came into yesterday’s game 2-7 without a legitimate chance at making the playoffs, because it would have been incredibly unrealistic to expect a hobbled team to “win out” the rest of the way (and hope that other teams trip up). For the Texans, the main goal is to figure out whether or not Case Keenum can be the team’s franchise quarterback. No, you shouldn’t give up on Matt Schaub completely due to his track record, but we’re fairly certain who Schaub is at this point. He’s not a great quarterback, but he is a decent one who has struggled badly this season. Schaub is also 32 and won’t make less than $10 million in any year from 2014-2017 (when his contract expires), so moving on isn’t out of a question. I’ve been a bit of a Schaub-apologist on this site, but I’m certainly not naive nor slow to react to change.

Keenum has shown up well early on in his career, and he’s shown enough flashes to make us believe that he can be this team’s franchise QB. The Texans goal- and Gary Kubiak’s too, since he should be acting in the best interest of the Texans organization- needs to be to give Keenum as many reps as possible in order to track his progress, have more tape to evaluate him on, and potentially watch him improve as each game goes on.

Yes, Keenum has struggled in the second half of games, but this is a guy who has played in just four career games, whereas Schaub has been in the game for years. Keenum has impressed enough this season to average 7.9 yards per attempt with a 99.0 QB Rating, and his interception yesterday was his first of the entire season. All of the numbers say that Keenum has been better than Schaub this season (and significantly so), and the tape presents the same conclusion. It would be illogical for me to state that Keenum’s numbers aren’t inflated, but he’s still played well and has shown plenty of promise.

I hate to say it, but the next games for the Texans are meaningless from a win-and-loss perspective. The Texans should try to win games, but they shouldn’t sacrifice evaluating somebody whom they should be hoping is their franchise QB to do it. And beyond that, who even said that Schaub gave the Texans the best chance to win yesterday? Just look at the numbers below:

Case Keenum: 13-24, 170 yards, 7.0 yards per attempt, 1 INT, 1 TD, 73.3 QB Rating

Matt Schaub: 12-25, 155 yards, 6.2 yards per attempt, 67.9 QB Rating

Not much of a difference, right? Keenum played worse than the numbers indicate, but the fact of the matter is that he didn’t play poorly enough to deserve being benched. When you pull your starting quarterback in the third quarter, that quarterback has to be struggling badly. Keenum was struggling, but he wasn’t terrible by any means. Not only that, but you could blame so many more players (like the defensive backs) for the 28-17 deficit than rather pinning things on Keenum.

The Texans benched their young, starting QB and potential franchise QB when he wasn’t struggling, and that’s not a good look for Gary Kubiak to give the organization either. In fact, I hope the Texans front office looks at Kubiak in an even more unfavorable light after what he did yesterday, because he either made a coaching blunder or a poor attempt to save face. The only logical explanation for benching  Keenum is a selfish one (especially considering that Kubiak is a big fan of Keenum’s), because it would have to be an attempt ( a poor one, at that) for Kubiak to save face by trying to desperately win a meaningless game. As the team’s head coach, Kubiak is feeling the heat of years on the hot seat, and this year he actually deserves it. You would hope that a head coach acts in the best interest of his organization, but it seems like Kubiak wanted to do whatever he could to win (it was an ill-fated decision from that perspective, too), then gave some bogus reason for the benching.

All in all, there was no legitimate reason for Gary Kubiak to bench Case Keenum against the Oakland Raiders, because Schaub didn’t give the Texans the best chance to win anyway. He performed at least as poorly as Keenum did, the Texans lost a valuable opportunity to continue to scout out Keenum, they look bad for not showing faith in Keenum, it is easy to mess with a young QB by benching him like that, they learned nothing about Schaub, and Schaub once again pissed away a goal-line stand. And Andre Johnson? He yelled is head off at Schaub.

This could have been a valuable opportunity for the Texans to not only watch more of their potential franchise QB in his fourth start,  but they could have also watched to see if he could mentally bounce-back after the hole. And Kubiak’s over-managing blunders weren’t restricted to the quarterback position, because he also inexplicably benched DeAndre Hopkins. His decisions probably don’t sit too well Rick Smith, Bob McNair, and the rest of the Texans brass and front office- nor should they. Kubiak hurt the future of the team a little bit and just downright made an indefensible decision. I mean, you can’t even argue that Schaub gives this team a better chance of winning anyway, and benching the quarterback sends a message of blame to that specific player. To that point in the game, the blame should have been on the defense that made Matt McGloin and Rashad Jennings look like All-Pros.

Tags: Case Keenum Gary Kubiak Houston Texans Matt Schaub Notes And Analysis

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