During Week 7 of the 2013 NFL regular season, the Houston Texans made waves by naming Case Keenum the starting quarterback. In his first career appearance, Keenum confidently led the Texans into Arrowhead Stadium, but ultimately lost 17-16 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
After a strong debut, it's clear that Keenum should be named Houston's full-time starter.
Going up against one of the NFL's best defenses, Keenum was 15-of-25 for 271 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a fourth quarter fumble. He also ran the ball three times for 10 yards during his NFL debut.
With all factors weighed, it was a very impressive debut.
Good first game for Case Keenum. Arrowhead isn't an easy place to play, and that #Chiefs defense is legit.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 20, 2013
That's only two of the factors that need to be acknowledged.
Entering Keenum's first career start, the Texans had lost four consecutive games and gone through two other quarterbacks. Matt Schaub had become the most heavily-scrutinized athlete in the NFL, and the room for error was slim-to-none for Keenum as the next-in-line.
If that's not enough, Keenum lost star running back Arian Foster in the first half.
On another note, Arian Foster done for the day with hamstring injury #Texans— Robert Flores (@RoFloESPN) October 20, 2013
Even still, the former Houston Cougars star kept the Texans in the game until the bitter end.
The loss stings and Keenum's late-game fumble did seal the defeat, but the Texans played significantly better football during Week 7 than in past games. A major reason for that success was the inspired play of Keenum.
In the end, this one comes down to Houston needing to explore new options.
Schaub and Yates
As it presently stands, the three quarterbacks on the Texans' depth chart are Keenum, Schaub and T.J. Yates. Schaub has been Houston's quarterback since 2007, while Yates has been on the roster since 2011.
To put it plainly, Houston knows what it's going to get with Schaub and Yates, and it isn't promising.
Schaub has career marks of 23,496 yards, 128 touchdowns and 79 interceptions in 124 games played. In 2013, the former Virginia Cavaliers star has 1,552 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions in six appearances.
Schaub knows how to win games, but it's become clear that Houston needs to make a change.
Yates has appeared in 13 games, completing 60.8 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and six interceptions. In 2013, he's 15-of-22 for 113 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, including one pick-six.
All in all, the upside is low with Schaub and Yates.
This isn't an attempt to put down what Schaub and Yates could bring to the team, but instead an acknowledgement of what Houston already knows. Both men have experience as the starter, and neither have displayed signs of making significant improvements in the near future.
For that reason, it's harmless to test a player who possesses upside.
For those unfamiliar, Keenum is one of the most prolific passers in the history of college football. He finished his career at the University of Houston with marks of 19,217 yards, 155 touchdowns, 46 interceptions and 23 rushing scores.
More applicably to the Texans, he's the only quarterback on the roster who possesses upside.
The worst case scenario for Houston is that Keenum doesn't work out and it's forced to find a quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft. With a deep crop of field generals and the Texans already possessing to five losses, there's certainly an opportunity for Houston to scoop up a franchise player.
The best case scenario is that Keenum ends up panning out.
Houston would be doing itself an injustice if it doesn't test the upside of a player who's already showed that he can handle the NFL atmosphere. Schaub is a better player than he gets credit for, but his time in Houston has clearly run its course.
The Texans need an injection of energy and hope, and Keenum seemed to provide that against Kansas City. By giving him the starting job, Houston would be able to test its future and determine just what it needs to do during the upcoming offseason.
It's not a dream scenario, but it's the necessary move for a franchise on the decline.