It’s well-known by now that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be the starter for the Houston Texans for the time being.
Yes, he’s shown some flashes, as well as plenty of forms of inconsistency, but the management, especially head coach Bill O’Brien are making the wrong decision handing Fitzpatrick the starting job.
Remember Case Keenum? In his first NFL season, he played eight games and compiled a respectful 1,760 yards, 54.2 completion percentage (not bad for a rookie with a limited receiving core,) and nine touchdowns with six interceptions and added 72 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
No, we didn’t see Keenum play a full season, but yes, we saw lots of promise.
Although he lost all eight of his starts. Consider these points:
Margin of losses combined
In Keenum’s eight losses, the margin of total points in his defeats were 51 points, an average of losing by roughly 6.4 points per game. And again, he was a rookie quarterback thrown into a disastrous situation, with only Andre Johnson as a consistent target he could rely on.
Competition was tough
In Keenum’s first game, he was forced to playing the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on the road, who were 6-0 at the time. Keenum tossed 221 yards on 15 completed passes, but his offensive line failed to produce: Allowing him to be sacked five times for a total of 50 yards lost. Very unacceptable, and the rushing game only had 73 yards. You can’t blame Keenum for that loss.
In his second game against the Indianapolis Colts (5-2 at the time) Keenum had 340 passing yards and three touchdowns without an interception. The defense melted down late in the second half and an 18-point lead evaporated and Randy Bullock missed three field goals, including the last attempt that could have sent the game into overtime on the final play. Keenum did his part, but received no help from his special teams or defense near the end.
In his third game, he played the 4-4 Arizona Cardinals, who fielded a stingy defense all season. Keenum only had 159 passing yards, but tossed three touchdowns, but was sacked three times and the rushing game only had 76 yards. Again, Keenum was solid, but his offensive line and rushing game forced him to carry the load by himself.
Finally, in his fifth game against the New England Patriots (8-3 at the time,) Keenum had a decent 264 passing yards, and one rushing touchdown with an interception. Terrible play-calling and time management led to a loss, but the defense allowed 453 yards of offense and the Patriots had the ball for 7:45 longer.
So, against tough competition, Keenum kept his ground and went up against some of the stronger teams. Yes, he could have played better and helped them win, but he wasn’t getting much support from his teammates.
Keenum kept the team in the game, with chances to win
In his first loss against the Chiefs, Keenum lost a fumble with a late chance to beat the Chiefs, down by one. In his second loss against the Colts, he led them into field goal range until Bullock missed that last-second field goal attempt where they lost by three. In his third game against the Cardinals, he got the ball, down by three with 2:06 left, but turned it over on downs to lose by three.
Against the Raiders in the next game, down 28-23, with 3:43 left, Keenum took the ball and got them into the Raiders red zone, but turned it over on downs at the three. The next game, down 13-6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars with 1:50 to go, Keshawn Martin juggled a pass that was picked off by the Jags, sealing the deal, but it wasn’t Keenum’s fault that his receiver couldn’t hang on.
The next game against the Patriots, down by three with 1:58 to go, Keenum’s poor offensive line, and timeout management by Gary Kubiak allowed the Patriots defense to force a turnover on downs at the Texans 39 to essentially ice the game.
Matt Schaub took over during the next game against the Jags, and the Colts blew out the Texans 25-3 in the next game. But for the most part, Keenum had chances to win the Texans ball games. Imagine if he did beat the Chiefs, Colts, Cards, Raiders, Jaguars and Pats, then the Texans would have been 8-8 (assuming they played much harder in the final games, they could have made the playoffs.)
The Texans coaching staff is overlooking the way Keenum competed and kept an underachieving team in plenty of their games. If the Texans have another terrible season, perhaps starting Fitzpatrick over Keenum will be the reason why such a season happened.