March 17, 2018

Schaub vs Keenum: Quarterback Evaluations

The Houston Texans are coming off a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and to add insult to misery, they lost their defensive captain to another season ending injury. The hits just seem to keep coming for the Texans and Head Coach Gary Kubiak as he cut four players who were depth in a couple areas of need. The players released were inside linebacker Tim Dobbins, outside linebacker Willie Jefferson, third round draft pick Sam Montgomery and running back Cierre Wood. Kubiak has alot on his plate but we narrowed down the scope of this team evaluation to just the quarterbacks, because ultimately I believe who ever starts against the Indianapolis Colts will be the starter for the remainder of the year. Who do you think gives them the best chance to win? Let’s look at both quarterbacks and do our own evaluation.


Matt Schaub

Schaub is trying to get healthy from an ankle and foot injury sustained in week 6. The highly criticized, yet very accomplished, quarterback is going through a major slump in his production and decision making. He has been one of the reasons the Texans have won and won big, but he has also been one of the reasons the Texans have lost and lost big. It never seemed so apparent of Schaub’s weaknesses until the 2012 season. We saw Schaub lead the Texans to their first 5-0 start before being beaten by the Green Bay Packers in a prime time game. Then the stigma that had been mumbled throughout the league began to emerge. “Schaub can’t win in big games.” The national media started to track his play in prime time or what could be considered high pressure situations. At first glance it didn’t look good, but when we dug into it there were other factors that contributed to those losses as well. The Texans went on a six game winning streak in which one of them was against another top tier team in Chicago and it was a prime time game. Schaub was solid, but it was the play of the defense and running back Arian Foster that solidified the win. The national media analysts were quieted for a time, and then the Texans reeled off several more wins to get to an impressive 11-1 record. Then came the game of the season against the New England Patriots in New England and on prime time. A “big lights, high pressure” game that would make or break Schaub. Needless to say the Texans bombed that game while simultaneously having the worst game of the year and the blue print for Schaub’s resume was written in stone. The game against the Patriots showed that if you get Schaub out of the pocket and make him scramble that the play would breakdown and he’d throw it away. Also, the spotlight showed that if you get the Texans to 3 and 10 plus that they would throw it underneath every time. The lack of additional weapons, play calling all had their parts in the debacle, but no factor was greater than Schaub’s play. At that point every team pushed to do the same. Some had success some not so much, but the blueprint was there and Schaub couldn’t shake it.


Moving on to the 2013 season, much promise was on the horizon as the Texans added another weapon to the offense for Matt Schaub to use. The addition of rookie DeAndre Hopkins would most assuredly be the end of the double teams to Andre Johnson and open up the field for the Texans offense. Well, it didn’t quite go that way. Schaub started off the first game and a half doing the exact same thing as last year. He targeted mainly two players in Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels who understandably are his most trusted targets, but it also showed that his bad habits die hard. Schaub was able to get through the first game and three quarters of the second without using his new receiver. It was only when Johnson went out of the game and more attention was paid to Daniels that Schaub was forced to go elsewhere. Where did he go? Where else but to his supposedly forgotten rookie receiver, who proved the situation wasn’t too big for him. Hopkins took over the game and for fans it seemed as though another target for Schaub had emerged and we’d see more of this, right? Wrong! Over the next three games Schaub returned back to his old ways by targeting mainly Johnson and Daniels with a sprinkle of targets to Graham and Martin here and there. Matt Schaub was making the offense seem more and more predictable and getting further away from making the Texans an explosive juggernaut. Play after play Schaub would go to his reliable players and it condensed what defenses had to do. This began to mount against Schaub and defenses began making plays and not respecting routes due to this. As it stands now, here are the perceived strengths and weaknesses of Matt Schaub.


  • Has the most experience in the offense and is able to recognize most defensive sets
  • He can run the play action game flawlessly and expose a lot of defensive backfields when the rushing attack is on
  • When he has time in the pocket, he can pick apart the best of defenses
  • Smart player, very even kilter, and keeps his team calm in the huddle
  • He’s a leader
  • Is a highly accurate quarterback when he’s at his best


  • Unable to make plays off schedule
  • Mobility is a problem
  • Tends to target just two players far too frequently
  • Doesn’t like to stand in the pocket and take a hit in order to make a big play
  • Decision making takes a hit when he is under duress
  • Throws most passes short of the sticks far too often
  • Only takes what the defense gives him
  • Lacks anticipation
  • Arm strength is average and floats too many passes downfield
  • Lacks pocket awareness, gets jittery when no immediate pressure is around him


Case Keenum

When Keenum went to the University of Houston he was virtually and unknown to his surrounding city. Art Briles recruited Keenum out of Abilene, Texas and started for Briles after the departure of Kevin Kolb. Keenum brought excitement to the University of Houston by putting up numbers on teams and competing on a high level. Art Briles would later leave and Keenum would inherit a new head coach in Kevin Sumlin who brought a new system and helped to elevate Keenum’s game. While at University of Houston, Keenum put up video game numbers with the supporting cast given to him. Just a few of the awards that Keenum won while at University of Houston are:

  • 2008 CUSA Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2009 CUSA Most Valuable Player
  • 2009 Sammy Baugh Trophy (Most Outstanding Passer)
  • 2011 CUSA Most Valuable Player
  • 2011 Sammy Baugh Trophy (Most Outstanding Passer)

Keenum was also a Heisman candidate in 2009 and again in 2011. Some of his career stats while in college are 69.4 completion percentage, 155 touchdowns, 19217 passing yards, 20114 total yards, and 160.6 passer efficiency rating. Keenum may have put up more yards if it had not been for a knee injury he suffered in the 2010 season where the Cougars finished with a 5-7 record. Going into the draft, Keenum had a label placed on him before he ever had an opportunity to prove anyone wrong. He was labeled a “system quarterback”, and because of most scouts fascination with height, weight, and speed it factored into Keenum being pushed to undrafted status. The fans around Houston wanted to the Texans to bring in Keenum, because of the pauper to prince possibility and it would be a great story to see him succeed in the city where he played college football.


Fast forwarding to the current NFL season, Keenum has had two off seasons under his belt and has vastly improved. Keenum came into this season pushing for the back-up quarterback spot behind Matt Schaub. One of the things that intrigued Gary Kubiak about Keenum is his ability to learn from his mistakes and not make the same mistake twice. Keenum has taken his game up a couple of notches since his rookie season. When Keenum first came to camp one of the things he had to adjust to was taking snaps from under center. At the University of Houston, Keenum took all of his snaps from the shotgun formation so playing in a pro set was a slight transition from the spread offense he ran in college. In the course of an off season, Keenum came much improved with his ability to take snaps under center and his overall command of the offense. He was impressive throughout OTA’s, mini-camp, training camp and when he played in the preseason he was able to put it all together and play solidly. Keenum has the ability and potential to be a starting quarterback in this league he just needed his chance. Well with the injury to Schaub, and Yates’ lack luster appearance in the game versus the St. Louis Rams it was time to give Keenum his shot. Unfortunately, Keenum’s first chance came with the deck stacked firmly against him going into the most raucous of venues in the NFL with the most potent pass rush to match. In the game Keenum showed poise, command of the offense, and the ability to move the ball downfield. This was something we hadn’t seen much from this offense over the last few weeks. Keenum showed great promise when he played the first half of football, but the problem is there was a second half to play and Kansas City made it their business to make up for the first half. The Chiefs came with a constant onslaught of blitzes and pressures that handed Keenum 5 sacks in the second half. Although the Texans had several opportunities to move the ball and take the lead and possibly win the game, the pass rush for the Chiefs proved to be too much for the Texans offensive line as they gave up a critical sack fumble that ended the game. After the game to Keenum’s credit he owned it and was critical of himself, but we could all expect it against that crowd, on the road, and it being his first start. From the preseason to his first start, we have had a glimpse of what Keenum can do so now let’s look at his strengths and weaknesses.


  • Has great accuracy and touch on passes
  • Has mobility and pocket presence
  • Great anticipation on his deep ball
  • He is a leader and show good command of the offense
  • Allows Kubiak to do more with the offense (pistol, read-option)
  • Can extend plays with his feet to give receivers time to get open
  • Will spread the ball around and won’t limit passes to just two options


  • Very few snaps as a starter
  • Needs to be able to recognize blitzes from defenses
  • Has to know where his “hot route” is when defenses blitz
  • Could potentially have problems with throwing lanes when defenses start getting their hands up
  • Has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long

Matt Schaub and Case Keenum are vastly different quarterbacks, but going forward with a playoff berth being a fragile possibility it would be best to start Schaub because he has the most experience, right? On the surface it seems that way, but with Keenum you need to know what he has as a potential starter to decide whether or not you can make him your franchise quarterback. Keenum is an unknown, but showed that he can move the offense effectively and score touchdowns when given time. I truly believe we have seen Schaub hit his ceiling and Kubiak has gotten all he can out of Schaub, but now I believe it’s time to move on from him and see if Keenum can be the guy.

Fortunately, this is a decision I didn’t have to make; however, make no mistake Kubiak had to make a serious decision that could ultimately cost him his job or make him a hero here in Houston. With Kubiak’s announcement earlier today that he will start Case Keenum on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, we believe he made the right choice.  In a worst case scenario, the Texans either win with Keenum or end up in a position to draft their next franchise quarterback in 2014.

Do you think Kubiak made the right decision in naming Keenum this Sunday’s starting quarterback?

3 Responses to “Schaub vs Keenum: Quarterback Evaluations”
  1. cartooner says:

    Kubiak made the right choice. He’ll still have Schaub and Yates if Keenum screws up. Even if Keenum plays lights out the remainder of the season, I’d still pick a 1st round QB and let the competition begin!

  2. cory says:

    to all the idiots keenum has faster release and gets rid of the ball quickly. second he keeps the ball in play when receivers aren’t open. prove u don’t know shit about case

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