The debacle in the desert has not created a true quarterback competition on the Houston Texans. But new coach Bill O'Brien is opening the door on the possibility at least a crack.
"I think you’re always thinking about what you can do to make the team better," O'Brien says when asked about changing the quarterback rotation on the afternoon after that 32-0 wipeout in Arizona. "So any time you have a chance to review things and regroup a little bit on a day off like today, as a head coach, you’re always thinking about things that can make the team better.
"Whether that’s a change in the depth chart, a change in a scheme, a change of a position of a player, whatever it may be. We’ll continue to discuss that today.”
This doesn't mean Case Keenum suddenly gets a real opportunity at unseating Ryan Fitzpatrick, the unremarkable 31-year-old journeyman who's been deemed the Texans starter. It would still be a shock if Fitzpatrick doesn't start the Texans next preseason game against Atlanta on Saturday night. A much more likely scenario than any switch is O'Brien coming out and reiterating that Fitzpatrick is the Texans starter, 14.2 quarterback rating in the preseason opener no matter.
Keenum just needs to hope he gets more real chances in game action where he tends to look his best.
If you really go back and look at O'Brien's quote, you'll see he really said nothing much of anything in true Bill Belichick fashion. Outlets like Pro Football Talk likely overplayed the quote in using it to talk about the chance of immediate change. They even went as far as all but guaranteeing that rookie Tom Savage will be starting at some point this season (please, Tom Brady didn't even play at all as a rookie and O'Brien comes from a coaching tree that treasures development time).
But O'Brien's words do provide an indication that he won't stay stubbornly welded to Fitzpatrick if the duds keep coming — and coming.
This isn't a Gary Kubiak and Matt Schaub situation. No matter how much O'Brien may appreciate the Ivy League background he and Fitzpatrick share, no matter how good he thinks the bearded one looks breaking down plays in the meeting room, the new Texans coach is too pragmatic to continually stick to someone who isn't producing.
O'Brien's ability to adjust is one of the things that helped make him Texans owner Bob McNair's handpicked choice for head coach.
If O'Brien truly sees little use in Keenum as some of the quarterback's fervent media critics would have everyone believe, he easily could have thrown Keenum under the bus for that inexcusable delay of game penalty to open the second half. Instead O'Brien went out of his way to take the blame himself — whether he completely deserves it or not.
Now Keenum just needs to hope he gets more real chances in game action where he tends to look his best and where Fitzpatrick's had problems throughout his own career — the type of extended chance the former University of Houston star didn't really get in the preseason opener. (The type of chance I argued Keenum needs to get for the Texans to be sure they find out who the best quarterback on the roster really is.)
The day after Ryan Fitzpatrick bombed in the desert, the roof didn't fall in at NRG Stadium. As O'Brien rather masterfully notes, "The sun, I believe rose today."
It did, but somehow things still seem a little different around the Texans.