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Bridgewater Bogus

Teddy Bridgewater bogus? Case Keenum dominated a bowl game too, Clowney still the better No. 1 pick

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Teddy Bridgewater run
Teddy Bridgewater dazzled in his bowl game. Then again, who doesn't? Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Case Keenum run Texans
Case Keenum threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns against Penn State in his final bowl game. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Bill O'Brien tunnel
The Houston Texans are waiting for Bill O'Brien to come running out of the tunnel for them. Courtesy of Lions Insider
J.J. Watt Antonio Smith Texans
J.J. Watt had another great season, but many of his defensive teammates like Antonio Smith are likely gone. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Bob McNair Texans San Diego
Texans owner Bob McNair wants to bring the joy back for the fans. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Teddy Bridgewater run
Case Keenum run Texans
Bill O'Brien tunnel
J.J. Watt Antonio Smith Texans
Bob McNair Texans San Diego
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith attended two football games this weekend in a span of less than 20 hours. But there's little doubt the college game he saw Saturday night in Orlando is infinitely more important than the putrid display of pro football he experienced Sunday afternoon in Nashville.

Smith sat next to Texans owner Bob McNair and chief operating officer Cal McNair for the latter — and they were just two guys in sweaters and one in a suit enduring one final indignity. Albeit a fruitful one. For Matt Schaub truly helped the franchise he earlier buried in an avalanche of Pick Sixes, doing enough Schaub things (two interceptions, a fumbled quarterback center exchange) Sunday to ensure the Texans left Tennessee with a 16-10 loss to an unimpressive Titans team.

That guarantees Smith and the Texans the No. 1 pick in this May's NFL Draft — the well-earned prize of a horrific 2-14 season.

The Texans plan to have Penn State University coach Bill O'Brien molding that top selection. And it's a pick the franchise absolutely cannot afford to get wrong.

 You know who else once played a spectacular bowl game to end his college career? One Case Keenum. 

Which makes what happened in Orlando potentially damaging to the Texans' future. There is no doubt Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater put on a show in a 36-9 rout of a once mighty Miami Hurricanes program. He excelled on third down, displayed a quick release and never came close to looking rattled as he racked up nearly 500 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. One of this throws was so pretty it even earned its own GIF.

But does any of that make Teddy Bridgewater any more of a surefire franchise quarterback? J.J. Watt tells reporters in Nashville the Texans can't expect a rookie to completely change the team. But there's no doubt the Texans need to grab the most talented rookie — and surest potential game changer — at No. 1.

Does one great bowl game mean that player is Bridgewater?

You know who else once played a spectacular bowl game to end his college career? One Case Keenum.

Yes, Keenum, the Texans' super media dismissed 25-year-old quarterback destroyed BCS team Penn State in his own bowl swan song, throwing for 532 yards and three touchdowns while completing 45 of 69 passes. You'd have been hard pressed to find a quicker release anywhere than that shown by Keenum on this January day.

Keenum's own first-year starter NFL numbers look better with every Matt Schaub throw. The 10-year veteran only manages to lead the Texans to 23 points in his last two starts, an average of 11.5 per loss. Working with a similarly crippled offense, Keenum put up 23 or more points four times.

No matter what stubbornly ignorant 610 AM host Nick Wright relentlessly preaches, Keenum's first season as a yanked around, part-time starter shows plenty of promise.

 JaMarcus Russell finished his LSU career by blitzing Notre Dame for 332 yards in a BCS bowl.  

Which doesn't mean the Texans shouldn't draft a quarterback in May. It dose mean they shouldn't reach for one at No. 1. They'll be other QBs with promise — and arguably as much upside as Bridgewater — later in the draft. There won't be a physical force like Jadeveon Clowney anywhere around after the first three or four picks.

The Texans will get one shot at a real game changer.

Fox Sports Southwest analyst Tony Banks — the former NFL quarterback — says that Bridgewater seems to play smaller than this reported 6-foot-3 size while a quarterback like Drew Brees plays much taller than his own height. Doubts remain despite Bridgewater's bowl bonanza.

You don't think the Texans could have managed to sneak into the AFC playoffs this season if they had Clowney on the same defensive line with J.J. Watt? Would-be No. 6 seed after would-be No. 6 seed gave away the last playoff spot Sunday as Houston played that meaningless game in Nashville.

The eventual "winner" — 8-8 San Diego — is one one of the two teams the Texans actually managed to beat this season.

J.J. Watt Times Two

Watt's excellence amongst the misery (nine tackles, one sack, one forced fumble against the Titans) gives a glimpse of how dominant this defense could become with a few key talent infusions. The Texans are already getting Arian Foster back on offense (if No. 23 doesn't get hurt in the first few moments of Keenum's first NFL start, the Texans easily could have been playing for something in Week 17). Andre Johnson is coming off arguably his most impressive season yet.

And there are no sure things at quarterback in this draft. There's no guarantee the Texans will even get a passer better than Keenum at No. 1.

The Texans get one shot at a real game changer.

Teddy Bridgewater's bowl game looks nice. But plenty of college quarterbacks enjoy fantastic bowl games. JaMarcus Russell finished his LSU career by blitzing Notre Dame for a career-high 332 yards in a BCS bowl game. Ryan Leaf pushed Michigan to the limit in the 1998 Rose Bowl before turning pro.

Fantastic bowl performances are no guarantee of future success. And these Texans need immediate success.

"We just got into a whirlpool and it never ended," Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips said at his final game day press conference of the season, trying to describe a lost year.

The Texans cannot afford a lost draft. This is the year to be certain. Best talent wins.

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