Houston Texans: Deciphering The Cult of Case Keenum

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As I have said many times in the past, something I do not struggle with is separating my Saturday’s from my Sunday’s. Where a player attended college means next to nothing to me once they enter the NFL Draft. Once an athlete is in the NFL, what they did previous to getting there means bunk.Therefore, the local support for Vince Young, Johnny Manziel and Case Keenum have always been confusing to me. Yes, rooting for a guy because he played for your school makes sense; I realize not everyone can just turn that off. But when logic is thrown out of the window because of university loyalty, well that’s something I just don’t get.

While some of us have moved on and are quite excited about the defense the Houston Texans are putting together, others continue to dwell over the quarterback position. This leads me, of course, to the irrational emotions being thrown out on one Case Keenum.

By now we all know the story on Keenum; local kid that goes undrafted and gets the opportunity most in his position never get by getting the starting nod in a train wreck of a season. In the end, it didn’t work out. But I don’t think too many really expected it to. Houston was in the middle of a lost season after realizing they had hitched their wagon to the wrong guy in quarterback Matt Schaub and the outdated offensive scheme of Gary Kubiak. To expect more than we got out of Keenum is just being blind to reality.

NFL: Houston Texans at Jacksonville JaguarsBut this is where things get tricky. The extreme emotions towards Keenum from both the true believers and the rest is intense and I just don’t understand why. I’ve made it quite clear that I’m not taking a stance on Keenum, one way or the other. Formerly attending the University of Houston myself, sure, I wanted to see the guy do well. But, above all things, I’m pretty realistic in my expectations of a player. When Case first showed up, he played pretty well. A lot of inexperienced quarterbacks are able to surprise some teams before they have any film on him. Then, reality sets in and they come back down to earth. This very much happened to Keenum, whether either side of opinion wants to believe it.

Keenum was thrust into a position that had a very low probability of success; injured stars, an underachieving offensive line, a stubborn coach and a team that had pretty much quit on the season. Those who think he is the second coming point to his quick start that showed him throw for seven touchdowns and no interceptions, while the rest only want to look at how things ended. The truth is, things are a pretty mixed bag. If Keenum had an Arian Foster or a right tackle that was little more than a hologram, could he have kept up his hot start? If his coaching staff had worked with him on how to read a blitz, perhaps? That’s something we’ll never know.

What I do know is the group pointing at Keenum for any of the reason behind the 2013 disaster are just being boobs. You have to remember that Case was playing safety on the scout team just five days before he was named the starter. He was nowhere near ready for what he was thrust into and closing the book on him at this point might be premature. 

On the other hand, Keenum making the same mistakes week after week showed a shocking lack of growth and there were plenty of red flags there that The Cult of Keenum just refuses to acknowledge. The guy went undrafted for a reason and the fact that he had an opportunity to start for an NFL team for half of a season is way more than even he could have ever believed. Acting like he is some kind of hidden superstar is almost laughable.

With reports of Bill O’Brien not wanting to take four quarterbacks to camp surfacing, Keenum could once again be pondering his future in this league. Personally, I believe T.J. Yates will be the one that is moved, one way or another, but we’re likely to find out very soon. Who knows; O’Brien may like Keenum more than he’s letting on and will give him an opportunity to prove himself. I am of the belief that I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, but time will tell as crazier things have happened.

Again, I’m abstaining from making a declaration of dedication or shunning on Keenum. If Bill O’Brien is this big time quarterback whisperer he has been touted as, who knows what could happen. The last thing I’m going to do is declare him one thing and he turns out to be another. This league is just too unpredictable like that. I hope that others can stop naming him either the next big thing or a scourge upon this team; because it’s a high probability that he is neither.

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  • Doug Pitre

    A most rational and level headed assessment. Thank you. I do hate this cop out statement, “there is a reason that he was not drafted”. Yes there was. I his first 3 games that statement blew up in the faces of many experts. Case has beat the experts at every level. I say he needs to be where he is wanted and he is developed and let the chips fall as the will. I believe the Case can play. I could be right or wrong. Let’s see.
    Case I wish the best for you.

  • Boyd Everitt

    I’m not saying one way or the other but that POS of an offensive line we had plus with out the run/blocking of Foster with Tate limping too and with Daniels down You have to admit was rough on a newbie. I still say he could be average QB if given some O line help.

  • Connor

    I am a big fan of Keenum but you are right he did repeat mistakes and isn’t some amazing superstar in the rough. But since this is looking like a season of rebuilding and development and there are no real starters I just want my guy to get one more chance with a decent line and less injuries. Just see what he can do in a decent situation.

    • Doug Pitre

      I think that we was just fighting for his life. Virtually the whole team quit. Last year is not a good measuring stick for anyone. So I am not sure that Case Aline got worse from his 4game on. His first 3 games were quite impressive. He showed that if you allow him the time he WILL burn you. This was a third string practice squad player trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. This not to say that Case will be successful going forward, but I am not inclined to write him off.
      It may be that another team/organization would be better fit. I really hate to see him back with Kubiak with the RAVENS as speculated.

    • hexor

      Have You Watched him play before? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHN4kM3u8W4

  • hexor

    I’m a 3 Generation Raider Fan and can’t wait to see Matt hand the Texans their head in week 2! That being said there’s a small part of me that wants Case Keenum to stop that from happening…The way the fans treat their QBs in Houston is sad! Call yourself fans what you did to Matt and after Case as a Rookie came in and played the way he did after the other 2 QBs got their head handed to them…I don’t think the Texans deserve to have Keenum down there…If Texans are dumb enough to trade the best QB they have EVER had in Houston they will pay for it…Case Keenum which is a gentlemen on and off the field and a godly man will Hand the Texans their head every time he plays against them! Man I’d like to see Keenum in Silver & Black some day!!! Let the Haters Hate just spell his name right…Keenum win that race sir stay humble and “Do Your Thing” Sir!!!

    • William Wittenberg

      Saying Schaub was the Texans best QB ever isn’t exactly high praise when the second best was David Carr. Good luck with that floppy armed, immobile, pick six machine this year. Sure he can read defenses, but he no longer has the arm to do anything about it.

      • hexor

        Read what I wrote again slowly sir you are one of the haters….LoL..

      • Doug Pitre

        Maybe so but Matt maybe better than anything that we have. A lot of knowns and unknowns to untangle.

        • Ryan Baker

          In no way is Matt Schaub better than Fitzpatrick. I don’t trust either the same amount.

          • hexor

            Ryan did you really just say Fitzpatrick is better than Schaub? Have you been drinking sir when you typed that? LoL Schaub is a Pro Bowl QB Fitpatrick throws a football like Vlade Divac shoots a basketball! Fitzpatrick has been a career backup and I don’t think his role will change much in Houston…

          • Ryan Baker

            Yeah I said it. I never thought he should have been voted into the Pro Bowl.

          • Doug Pitre

            I guess you can think what you please. I would say that the career stats, etc do not support your opinion! But today and until the season unfolds we just do not know. At least I don’t.

          • hexor

            Sir have you watched Fitzpatrick play? He’s is in no way shape or form a starting QB in the NFL….I think the Texans wasted a lot of money even bringing him to Houston! They should have used that money on the O Line and WRs maybe even a young RB!!!

      • hexor

        No sir read what I wrote again…Keenum is the best QB the Texans have ever have! The the right coaches defense and TEAM working as one…Super Bow Sir!!!

        • William Wittenberg

          My apologies. I did misread your initial post. I don’t think there’s a single knowledgeable football person that would agree with you, but hey, to each his own. I think if Case is given a chance behind a good offensive line and a real running game, he’ll definitely improve. But how much I don’t know. But I’d like to see him get a legit look.

  • Ikana Juana Leighere

    Let me say this much; with what he had to work with and never taking first snaps until he was named the starter – this undrafted qb did quite well over all. We’re not talking some journeyman qb but basically a rookie. So if he gets to stay and learns under BOB and has healthy players on both sides of the ball; I think he will do better than average as a qb. I’m not a hater or a lover of Keenum; I’m just calling it as I see it.

    • Doug Pitre

      Ikana, I concur !

  • First Last

    Good take MK. GO COOGS!! GO TEXANS!!

  • Tony Kammerer

    Many may be shocked to hear it, but not everyone who was impressed with Keenum was a UH fan/student/alumni/etc. Any time I have pointed out the good things he did on the field, it is written off as “UH homer” though I pay zero attention to college sports and have no connection to UH other than being a Houstonian.

    The kid just straight out played impressively for the situation he was in during the first 3 games.
    Even in spite of the majority of the team just barely bothering to play, he was making plays happen.
    I firmly believe that Kubiak did nothing to try to help him succeed and in fact pressured him to play the way he wanted him to play, sticking in the “pocket” and not trying to make a play when that pocket collapsed.
    I’ve never seen Kubiak run so many plays in a row with no backs or extra pass protection as he did for Keenum from his 4th game on. Those games where he pulled Keenum for Schaub (though the games were not even blowouts), Schaub got extra protection every play and the kind of formations/plays that Keenum was excelling with in the first 3 games.

  • Sandy Therrien

    You won’t find many people out there who believe in this kid like I do. If I were BOB Fitzpatrick would be gone next week after the mandatory mini camp. However I am a realist also and I can tell you now it will be Keenum who is gone. BOB won’t want to listen to the fans and have the distraction over his head of PLAY KEENUM already after Fitz sucks it up. Which by all past experiences won’t take long.

    • Tony Kammerer

      I worried he would cut Keenum just for that reason, but it appears he isn’t that foolish after all.

  • Vito Andolini

    Bottom line…if B’OB cuts Keenum, the Houston fans will run him out of town! Fast!

  • Clyde Cash

    I’m a huge Case Keenum fan. The kid can play. He more than proved himself in limited time. He needs coaching and players that care around him to be successful…just like most all NFL Players. I’m cheering with all my heart for Case to be named #1 and will enjoy watching him run with the job. As a Cowboys fan I’d much rather have Case right now than Romo and his massive contract/injury concerns/bonehead plays at crucial times key games. Lets GO CASE KEENUM #7!! Keep the faith my man…you can and will do it!

  • hexor

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErESLqmC_Xs Coaches use the terms “Shotgun” and “Pistol” to describe formations because “CANNON” was already taken by Case Keenum’s right arm!!!

  • Big3Kansas

    Keenum never won a game as a starter last year. That’s what people point to when they want to argue that Keenum can’t cut the mustard as an NFL starting QB. That’s a load of B.S. Quarterbacks don’t win games on their own. It’s a team sport. Does everyone else point to other guys on the team at other positions and say that they haven’t won a game as a starter since September?

    The same thing happened in KC to a kid named Tyler Thigpen. Thigpen an undersized QB from a small school Coastal Carolina took over for the job when injuries plagued the other 2 QB’s. Thigpen played well but he never won a game as a starter for the Chiefs. Mainly because the Chiefs defense sucked immensely at the time. The offense had no problem putting up points once Thigpen started playing. The problem was the defense didn’t do an adequate enough job to give their offense a fair chance to win. The majority of the games Thigpen lost were by a small margin. Literally it was something like 21 points combined is the difference from winning 6 games. Instead they lost all those games, and Thigpen gets saddled with the notion that he can’t lead his team to a victory. The locker room rallied around Thigpen, everyone on the team like him. Tony Gonzalez the best Tight End to ever play the game in the history of football said this:

    DENVER — Tony Gonzalez is not sure if he will want to return to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. But Sunday, he made one thing abundantly clear.

    If he does return to Kansas City for a 13th season, it had better be a package deal with Tyler Thigpen. The star tight end emphatically put his support behind the Chiefs’ gutsy, young quarterback Sunday after another close call in Denver, where the Broncos moved to the doorstep of the AFC West championship with a 24-17 win over the feisty Chiefs.

    In a candid interview, Gonzalez left no doubt about what he thinks the Chiefs’ brass needs to do at quarterback in the offseason: Make Thigpen the long-term answer.

    “It would be a disgrace if they don’t,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been playing well since he came in.”


    Then next season Pioli was hired, then Pioli hired Haley and then they traded Thigpen as soon as they could, and they signed an unproven QB Matt Cassell to one of the largest contracts ever for a QB at the time. Everybody knows how that turned out. Pioli turned out to be a dictator, Haley turned out to be a nut job, and Cassel turned out to be a decent backup QB at best.

    I can’t really say if Keenum’s situation is all that similar, because no one really knows the motivations of why Bill O’Brien chose Fitzpatrick. What I do know though looking back on the Chiefs situation, is that Pioli and Haley already had their mind made up that Thigpen wasn’t the guy. They gave no opportunity for Thigpen or any other backup for that matter to compete with Cassell for the starting job.

    My last point is that everybody already knows who Fitzpatrick is, everyone already knows what Fitzpatrick is capable of, and how high his ceiling is. He’s a decent QB, but he’s never shown any consistent promise of being able to compete at a high level along the ranks of other elite QB’s in this league. As for Keenum, he hasn’t started and played long enough for anyone to come to any fairly accurate conclusions on the quality of a QB he is. However high Keenum’s ceiling is, is still a mystery because he hasn’t developed to his full potential yet. He hasn’t been on a team that had all the right pieces in place to put him in a more favorable situation to succeed. He was on a broken team last year.