The case for Keenum
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Let's start with the bad news, or at least bad news if you're a Texans fan.

You guys lost again.

But losing a relatively meaningless Week 9 matchup with Indianapolis is a small price to pay for finding your quarterback of the future. And that's exactly what Houston found Sunday night at Reliant Stadium.

Behold Case Keenum, an undrafted second-year quarterback with exactly two games of NFL experience.

At 6-foot and about 200 pounds, Keenum is the Dustin Pedroia of NFL quarterbacks. His 2013 salary ($405,000) multiplied by 20 would still only be about half of what Peyton Manning makes. And as far as I know, in his 25 years of living, he has never once dated a Kardashian.

Basically, there isn't a threatening thing about him. Well, unless you count that right arm of his.

Sunday, Keenum took a page out of Ron Burgundy's leather-bound book by giving Indy two tickets to the gun show. The result smelled of rich mahogany. Keenum ended up torching the first-place Colts for 350 yards and three touchdowns.

Keenum's previous outing was just as successful. Though he only threw for 271 yards and one touchdown, his QB rating (110.6) was almost 50 points higher than what opposing quarterbacks have averaged against the Chiefs this season (64.6 combined QB rating).

Now two games into his NFL career with no return to the bench in sight, Keenum has a 118.0 quarterback rating on 59 pass attempts. He still hasn't thrown an interception and his yards per attempt average (10.53) is higher than Peyton Manning's.

For Keenum, the road to the NFL wasn't a long one, at least in terms of mileage. In fact, his college team, the University of Houston Cougars, shares the same home field as his current employer.

As we learned from NBC announcer Al Michaels on last night's broadcast, that's not even the whole story. According to Michaels, head coach Gary Kubiak told Keenum that if nobody drafted him, the Texans would offer him a contract. And they did.

My friend who I was watching the game with then asked, "Why didn't anybody draft him?"

Thirty-one NFL teams are probably wondering the same thing. I imagine Keenum would look quite striking in Vikings' purple or Jaguars' teal right about now.

Instead, the NCAA's all-time passing leader spent his first season and a half twiddling his thumbs on the Texans' sideline.

Did you just say ALL-TIME passing leader?

It's true. No player in FBS history has thrown for more yards than Keenum did during his tenure at U of H. He's also the NCAA's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 155.

But alas, he did most of his damage in Conference USA, which, the last time I checked, isn't exactly the SEC. Scouts figured that Keenum was the product of a system and that he wouldn't succeed in a traditional pro style offense.

Thankfully for Keenum, neither could Matt Schaub. The embattled quarterback was literally booed off the field in his last start October 13th against St. Louis.

Schaub's ineffectiveness was supposed to open the door for T.J. Yates but after Yates displayed similar shortcomings (45.3 QB rating in two quarters against the Rams), Keenum's name was next on the list.

Now there is no more list. Houston's quarterback discussion begins and ends with Case Keenum.

But it isn't just about Keenum. While Schaub was watching next to a Gatorade jug on Sunday, Andre Johnson was taking huge sips from the fountain of youth.

The emergence of Keenum has Houston's top wideout feeling like a kid again. Sunday's multi-touchdown effort from Johnson was his first since December 13, 2010. Heck, it was the first time he scored at all in almost a year (last TD was December 16, 2012 against the Colts). It was also Johnson's third-career 200-yard game.

Keenum's underdog story extends to the fantasy world. Despite two solid outings in a row, he's still owned in just 1.8 percent of ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, the likes of mediocre Geno Smith (13 INT, 71.0 QB rating), Ryan Tannehill (9 INT, 80.8 QB rating) and Carson Palmer (14 INT, 72.4 QB rating) are all hovering around ten percent ownership.

With fantasy starters Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Russell Wilson all set to go on bye in the coming weeks (Andy Dalton also has a bye coming up), you're going to need a quarterback. Why not make it Keenum?

And get this. Two of Houston's next four games are against the Jaguars, losers of 13 straight.

That sounds like case closed to me.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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