Coming off a positive performance in the Texans’ loss to Kansas City, head coach Gary Kubiak decides to stick with quarterback Case Keenum when they play the Indianapolis Colts Sunday Evening at Reliant Stadium.
Keenum, a former undrafted rookie, is now the Texans’ starting quarterback. Matt Schaub is Keenum’s backup for the foreseeable future. When the University of Houston standout takes the field, he will try to give new life to a struggling team searching for new life.
“I imagine I’ll have a few more goosebumps than I did last week,” said Keenum, who completed 15-of-25 passes for 271 yards, one touchdown and a 110.6 passer rating during a 17-16 road loss to Kansas City. “Obviously, it was a very cool atmosphere last week. But to play in Houston, to play in Reliant, I know this atmosphere; I know what it’s like. And I know Sunday night it’s going to be really special and I’m really excited to play in Houston.”
A healthy Schaub is no longer the Texans’ starting quarterback. The normally reserved veteran isn’t happy with coach Gary Kubiak’s decision. “As a player and as a competitor, I don’t like it,” said Schaub. He added, “I understand that I’m part of the reason that we’re in this position. I haven’t played up to my standards this year. That’s where it stems from.”
Kubiak said he understands Schaub’s frustration and acknowledged benching the team’s former offensive leader wasn’t an easy decision. “Matt’s (health is) fine,” Kubiak said. “It’s just a decision I made based on what I saw take place last week with Case and him taking advantage of an opportunity.” For the past six seasons, Schaub has started at least 10 games for the Texans. But his 2013 campaign has regularly been a disaster, and Keenum will be given a chance to resurrect the Texans’ season.
Keenum isn’t the Texans’ long-term starter, though, leaving the door open for Schaub’s return if Keenum struggles. “We’re just taking ‘em one at a time,” Schaub said. “So we’re focused on what we’ve got to do to beat Indianapolis this week and that’s all that we can worry about individually and as a team.”
Several Texans praised Keenum’s energy and focus, saying his confidence has risen to the point where he was the driving force of the team toward the end of the loss at Kansas City. Running back Ben Tate referred to Keenum as a “natural-born leader,” while left tackle Duane Brown said Keenum has gradually earned the trust of his more experienced teammates. “Last year, everyone knew about the collegiate-level accomplishments and everything he had done. But he came and walked through the door, he didn’t have any kind of ego about him. He just came in, worked, put his head down and kept at it,” Brown said. “He saw his opportunity. … He’s definitely gained everybody’s respect on the team.” Keenum intends to dedicate himself to the Texans’ film room this week, acknowledging he made mistakes against the Chiefs that must be fixed versus the Colts’ defense.
Despite the buzz surrounding his midseason promotion, one of the few highlights in an otherwise depressing Texans season, the QB said he plans to treat Sunday night like any other game during the last several years when he guided an offense in the city of Houston.