With depth at the position, the Texans addressed a concern that head coach Gary Kubiak mentioned earlier this week. "I think I'd like to sign a fourth guy,” Kubiak said. "With Matt being out, with the 90-man player roster, I think there's room for that guy."
They found “that guy,” and now the Texans’ QB roster runs four deep. And with the plague of injuries last year at that position, all of these players are likely to fall under intense scrutiny for the rest of the offseason and preseason.
I’ll get things started, then, by starting that scrutiny right now.
The following profiles of each Texans QB explores what is expected, what we can expect, and how those expectations are justified for each player.
John Beck comes to the Texans from the Washington Redskins, where his skills were found wanting.
In 2011, Beck found his opportunity to shine as a Redskin when head coach Mike Shanahan allowed the QB—previously a backup for the Baltimore Ravens—to prove himself mid-season and start over Rex Grossman. Beck won none of those games and ended the season with a completion percentage of 60.6.
The Redskins’ recent drafting of Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins meant certain death for Beck, and the team released him at the end of April.
The only other playing time he’s seen in the NFL was with the Miami Dolphins in 2007, where he played five games as a rookie late in the season, again winning none of them and ending the season passing at 56.1%.
His inability to win games even with acceptable passing completion percentages make Beck a hard sell to Texans fans. However, as a backup deep in the Texans’ roster, Beck is a pretty good choice.
After playing under Shanahan’s offense in Washington, Beck will find a very similar scheme in Houston, especially given his work there with ex-Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Beck will also provide some competition for the number three spot for rookie Case Keenum.
Assuming that Beck came at a low price, his small amount of NFL experience and knowledge of the Texans’ offensive style means hiring Beck is, at the very least, efficient and economical.
Case Keenum is coming off of a spectacular college career with the University of Houston Cougars, but how those skills will translate in the NFL is the big concern.
While Keenum wasn’t drafted this year, the Texans signed him on to play behind T.J. Yates and Matt Schaub. Kubiak showed great confidence in the rookie quarterback, signing him as an undrafted free agent not long after he earned that status.
Keenum lead the 2011 Cougars to a 13-1 season, and his performance led him to the top of NCAA Division 1-A records in total offense, passing yards, and touchdown passes.
But Keenum disappointed at the 2012 Scouting Combine, where his arm strength, small size, and accuracy are cited as concerns—especially after he spent so much time running plays from the shotgun at U of H.
Nevertheless, Keenum could easily make a strong backup quarterback. If he lands the number three position in front of Beck, time spent watching, practicing, and waiting could do wonders for the rookie. He’ll have time to develop and prove that he can take snaps from the line, all the while working on his strength.
If he can develop these things, they’ll support his ability to work intelligently in the pocket that he showed in college. Altogether, these attributes could make him a force. I’m sure Kubiak is more excited than anyone to develop such a talent at quarterback as he has in the past.
If Keenum can take advantage of the resources now before him, we may see him playing—even starting—in the future.
Even if it was just a small moment in time, T.J. Yates gave us all an exciting ride last season.
Still, there’s not a lot to say about 2012 and Yates. He’ll take a comfortable backseat to Schaub, and the Texans can rest easy that if Schaub goes down again, Yates is no stranger to the field, playoff pressure, more-than-reasonable expectations for a one-time 3rd string quarterback, and post-game interviews.
I don’t think anyone will expect him to improve greatly beyond the performance we all saw, though. Not yet.
Yates got more on-the-job training than backups usually ever get. He showed a strong evolution, too, and an offseason of OTA could speed that up tremendously. Given that Schaub will sit these out, Yates might also develop those interesting qualities that can make quarterbacks so dynamic, like leadership abilities and an instinctive knowledge of his teammates’ strengths. These things are hard to measure, though, making the whole thing that much more exciting.
In the end, he adds great security behind Schaub. If nothing else, Yates promises to make the preseason worth watching.
And so we all wait for Matt Schaub, who somehow returns to more questions than he left us with, given the post-Schaub performance of the Texans last season and the new roster for this season.
Kubiak and the rest of the camp swear that Schaub will be ready for camp as planned. The truth hasn’t changed, though: Schaub is still injured.
At the recent Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic—that fountain of offseason information—Schaub’s status was of expected interest. Kubiak spoke to the team’s plans with Schaub directly. “He will do drill work, could throw some 7-on-7. He will not be put in a team environment where he might get tripped up.”
Kubiak also reiterated his optimism about Schaub’s timely return. “He’s ready to go. It’s just us being cautious with him right now.”
Schaub also spoke about his recovery.
Things are right on schedule. It’s just a matter of time. There’s no more major milestones, it’s just staying with the program, staying true to the plan, and really the next milestone is training camp, in my opinion. That’s when everything gets going.
Of course, Texans fans didn’t want to wait until training camp to have an answer. The best that can be done is hope that this long recovery pays off as we’d hoped. I’ll assume for now that Kubiak and Schaub know what they’re doing, especially because the greater sports community speaks about it as if the injured QB is ready to go and lead the Texans to a predicted top-10 performance.
And should his injury heal as expected, his performance as one of the league’s top rated passers will be what the rest of the question marks—including DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin—need to be successful as rookies.
Perhaps more importantly, Schaub will need to prove he’s ready to be a long-term franchise quarterback by staying healthy, maintaining excellent numbers, and convincing the Texans that he’s worth re-signing at season’s end.