Case Keenum Possibly Starting for Texans on Sunday
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"Case (Keenum) is going to be the quarterback. We're going to give him a chance to see how he can perform. I think the jury is still out. He's got a lot of ability. He's shown some flashes of brilliance and then he's shown some rookie mistakes. We've got to see if we can improve, eliminate those mistakes, minimize those mistakes and continue some of the outstanding play that (we've) seen and see whether we think that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. At this point, we really don't know." -- Bob McNair, 12/6/13
That was Bob McNair a little over a year ago, meeting with the media to discuss the firing of former head coach Gary Kubiak, a termination that was caused in large part by 11 consecutive losses but also fueled by McNair's frustration with Kubiak's yo-yo act at the quarterback position and his seeming inability to totally quit Matt Schaub altogether.
Case Keenum would wind up starting eight games in all, winning exactly none, before watching his season end with an injury sustained in a Week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Through a coaching change, the hiring of Bill O'Brien and an entire offseason and preseason, eventually we learned what McNair insisted we didn't know back on December 6, 2013 -- that Keenum indeed is not a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. He would eventually get cut just before the start of the 2014 season.
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So naturally, as the Texans continue to withstand a two-year karmic kick in the collective nuts at the quarterback position, not only is Case Keenum back with the Texans to close out 2014, but there's a good chance he will start on Sunday against the Ravens at NRG Stadium.
Early Monday morning, it was announced that the Texans had signed Keenum off of the Rams' practice squad after their top two quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tom Savage, left Indianapolis on crutches Sunday night, leaving the Texans with Thad Lewis, who was signed three weeks ago, as their only healthy signal caller. Hence, the re-signing of Keenum, who, as an available American male with a working right arm and a working memory of O'Brien's system, was clearly one of the only viable options available at this late date, in the NFL's Week 16.
When asked who would start on Sunday between Lewis and Keenum, O'Brien said, "We'll make a decision as we go through the week here who will start the game against Baltimore."
If indeed Keenum were to get the nod from O'Brien this Sunday, the matchup would be dripping with irony on a handful of fronts.
Start with the circumstances that led to Keenum and the Texans reuniting early Monday morning. It took three injuries over the past three weeks to current Texans quarterbacks to necessitate Keenum's return to the team. It started with the man who essentially replaced Keenum in September, Ryan Mallett, going down for the season with a pectoral injury three weeks ago, and the door was then kicked wide open when the two signal callers that Keenum went through training camp with (Fitzpatrick and Savage) both sustained injuries on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick's injury (broken tibia) was season-ending, and Savage's (sprained knee) was, at the very least, enough to knock him out for Sunday's game. Oddly enough, both suffered their injuries on the same field in the same week of the season that Keenum saw his final action as a Texan in 2013.
Additionally, if Keenum starts on Sunday, the offensive coordinator on the other side of the ball will be the very man who gave him his first shot in the NFL, Gary Kubiak. As outlined earlier, it was Kubiak's continued indecision with Keenum last season that helped lead directly to his ouster after a Week 14 loss in Jacksonville.
Honestly, the only thing missing from this game on Sunday to make this a full-fledged "This Is Your Life" for Keenum is Kevin Sumlin doing the coin toss and Matt Schaub up in the NRG rafters wearing face paint and a leather trench coat, like a mopey version of Sting.
Hell, on the day that Keenum got a glimmer of hope in reigniting his NFL career, his alma mater got its own glimmer of hope by hiring Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman to be its new head coach.
Above all else, the signing of Keenum is a lesson in how whimsical the football gods can be. Three months ago, he was cut loose by the Texans in what felt like a formality. Three days ago, he was languishing on the practice squad for a team that was starting Shaun Hill at quarterback.
Sunday, he just might be starting for a team that still has a mathematical chance at the playoffs in Week 16. Football is a weird game sometimes, man.
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