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Houston Texans: Why Not Case Keenum?

Houston Texans: Why Not Case Keenum?

Case Keenum had a good game on Saturday night versus the Dolphins. He had a good game two weeks ago against the Minnesota Vikings. He's been good enough that there's been some thinking coming from Texans camp that Keenum might be the team's second-string quarterback to open the season. And this has some people scared.

People like the Houston Chronicle's Jerome Solomon, who stated on Friday that there's a reason that Keenum wasn't drafted, that Kubiak is flirting with disaster for the team, and that going with an untested backup for the most important position on the team is insanity. The Texans can't win with Keenum is what he's getting at because Keenum's not an NFL-caliber quarterback. And unless the Texans have a tested NFL vet as Matt Schaub's backup, the season is doomed.

The thinking's understandable because there's just no chance that a team can win with a lousy backup quarterback. The Packers are toast if Aaron Rodgers goes down. How good will the New Orleans Saints be if Drew Brees is knocked out for the season? Cowboy fans complain about Tony Romo, but think about how bad the Cowboys will be if he's not around.

The fact of the matter is that most NFL teams have awful second-string quarterbacks. How else was Rex Grossman able to stick around so long? Chad Henne's so bad that he can't even beat out Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville, yet he would be quickly snapped up by some other team to become its backup QB. Hell, Vince Young's even getting another chance, so desperate are the Packers to find someone to fill in for Rodgers. So to worry about the Texans having the inexperienced, undrafted Keenum as the back-p to Schaub is understandable.

But the concerns about Keenum seem misplaced. Sure he's inexperienced. But Tom Brady was an unheralded, second year, former sixth round draft choice with no regular season experience when he stepped in for the injured Drew Bledsoe and drove the Patriots to their first Super Bowl triumph. How much experience did the un-drafted Tony Romo have when he took over for the Cowboys. Does anyone remember the grinding of teeth in St. Louis when Arena League vet Kurt Warner replaced the injured Trent Green? And how much NFL game experience did T.J. Yates have when he replaced Matt Leinart, who replaced Matt Schaub, and took the Texans to the playoffs?

Tom Brady's current backups are Ryan Mallett, who has thrown exactly four regular season passes, and Tim Tebow. The backup to Drew Brees is the immortal Luke McCown, the guy who lost a job to Blaine Gabbert. Peyton Manning's backup is someone named Brock Osweiler, and his brother Eli's backup is some guy named David Carr -- yes, that David Carr.

Those are the good teams. Think of what the backup QBs are like on the bad teams. And there are other teams out there who don't even have a legit starting quarterback, much less a good backup. The Jags start Blaine Gabbert. The New York Jets are probably giving Matt Sanchez another go at it.

So maybe Case Keenum backs up in Houston. So what if he wasn't drafted? So what if he's on the short side for quarterbacks -- Brees is also a bit on the short side. But unlike Schaub, Keenum can hit a receiver in stride on a deep route, and yes, Keenum can throw a deep ball, as anybody who watched UH football can attest. So what if Keenum doesn't have any NFL experience?

There are people who think Keenum isn't good enough to back up Schaub. These are also probably the same people who didn't think Yates was good enough to take over for Schaub and screamed in delight when aging retreads Jake Delhomme and Jeff Garcia were brought in to sit on the bench behind Yates because Yates didn't have any experience. Yes, the Texans will be in trouble if Schaub is injured. So will every other team in the NFL if its starter is injured, except for maybe the Jets and Jaguars.

It's one thing to think that Keenum shouldn't be backup because he's not good enough. Because he lacks the talent or the ability to play the position. But his lack of experience or his having not been drafted shouldn't really play into the equation because most of the guys playing quarterback in the NFL, they didn't have any experience either when they first played quarterback in the NFL.


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