Austin | Dallas | Houston
Keenum Deserved Better

Case Keenum deserved better from Bill O'Brien: Never given a real chance before Ryan Mallett panic move

Enlarge
Slideshow
Case Keenum Colts Texans frustrated
Case Keenum is gone from the Houston Texans, having never received a real chance to compete at quarterback by new coach Bill O'Brien. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMap Snap
Ryan Mallett
Ryan Mallett is now a Houston Texan. Courtesy of New England Sports
Bill Belichick Texans
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave up on Ryan Mallett. Any questions? Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Case Keenum Texans sign
The loyal Case Keenum fans in Houston didn't get their wish. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Bill O'Brien Texans Falcons sideline
Bill O'Brien got his quarterback wish though. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
Case Keenum throw Texans 49ers
Case Keenum will move on to new opportunities as he leaves the Houston Texans. Photo By Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Case Keenum Colts Texans frustrated
Ryan Mallett
Bill Belichick Texans
Case Keenum Texans sign
Bill O'Brien Texans Falcons sideline
Case Keenum throw Texans 49ers
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

In the end, Bill O'Brien gets another of his Chosen One Quarterbacks, adding Bill Belichick reject Ryan Mallett to strong-armed rookie Tom Savage.

One thing's certain now: Ryan Fitzpatrick need not worry about losing his starting job. Adding Mallett and dropping Case Keenum assures that there will be no quarterback controversy with the Houston Texans this season. At least not any legitimate one.

If you're excited about this trade and release, you're living in a complete NFL fantasy land. One where Bill Belichick cannot recognize quarterback talent.

The Texans didn't just get better at quarterback. They got worse. No matter what anyone thinks of Case Keenum, he's shown much more in a half season of starting than Ryan Mallett has in three years in New England.

 Case Keenum will be fine. He's much more sure of himself than the Texans seem to be about their quarterback position. 

Mallett got beaten out by Patriots rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this preseason. Keenum didn't get beaten out by anyone on the Texans. He simply never was given a chance one way or the other.

Consider that Keenum found himself relegated to second string by O'Brien before the preseason ever began despite the potential he flashed starting for a battered, beaten down team that had given up last season. Keenum never received a single opportunity to play with the starters the entire preseason. He didn't even get to play in the first half of a game until the meaningless preseason finale.

There are casino games less stacked in the house's favor than this.

O'Brien clearly simply wanted to bring in his own guys. This makes O'Brien like a lot of other coaches. It doesn't mean he's a bad coach. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited to see the offensive gameplan he breaks out for the Redskins game next Sunday (all the ways he utilizes Arian Foster are going to be fascinating).

It does cut into the idea of O'Brien being an innovative, outside-the-box thinker though. You'd have to be a Nick Wright sycophant level Case Keenum hater to be awfully excited about the Texans acquiring Ryan Mallett on the last day of August.

This is a reach at best, one with curious timing. At worst, it's a bit of panic — a desperate lunge at the familiar over legitimate potential.

The Patriots have been desperately trying to unload Mallett for something for a while now. If O'Brien's really excited about Mallett, why didn't he foster a trade earlier when the tall quarterback could have more time with the Texans offense?

If you're truly committed to a quarterback is there a real difference between the conditional seventh rounder the Texans end up giving up for Mallett and the slightly better draft pick they might have needed to surrender earlier?

This is a quarterback we're talking about, the most important position in the NFL.

Case Keenum — one of the most important figures in recent Houston sports history — will be fine. He's much more sure of himself than the Texans seem to be about their quarterback position.

I hear that the guy who played Ryan on The Office is pretty tall. Maybe he should expect a call from a Texans personnel man.

Which is what makes O'Brien's unwillingness to give Keenum a real chance with the starters so puzzling.

Keenum threw for three touchdowns in a half against the Indianapolis Colts last November. He led the Texans to a 31-point outburst against Belichick's Patriots last December. Mallett's completed one pass in his entire NFL career. At least to his own team. He does also have an interception in his four career pass attempts.

Call me a delusional Case Keenum believer all you want. Some numbers simply don't lie. Reacquiring safety Danieal Manning off the waiver wire is likely to have more impact on the Texans' fortunes than Ryan Mallett ever will. Giving up on Keenum will linger much longer.

But hey, the 6-foot-6 Mallett is much taller than Keenum. Maybe O'Brien is simply worried about getting things off high shelves in the Texans complex.

So far we've learned that Johnny Manziel and Case Keenum don't fit into Bill O'Brien's system. But Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Mallett do. Everyone can make their own conclusions off that truth. Though I do hear that the guy who played Ryan on The Office is pretty tall. Maybe he should expect a call from a Texans personnel man.

This old school NFL fixation on quarterback height above all doesn't mean that O'Brien is wrong. It does raise some legitimate questions about how forward thinking he really is though.

Case Keenum moves on to his next opportunity, having never been given a real chance by this new Texans regime. Just don't think it means the Texans have moved up.

Do you really Bill Belichick would give up on a quarterback with true NFL potential? Sleep on that one.

Newsletters for exploring your city

Daily Digest

Houston news, views + events

The Dining Report

News you can eat

Insider Offers

Curated experiences at exclusive prices

Promo Alerts

Special offers + exclusive deals

We will not share or sell your email address

HTX Ready to Jingle 2014