McNair: Keenum is starter, want to see more

McNair: Keenum is starter, want to see more
December 6, 2013, 1:30 pm
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McNair on Kubiak: "It makes sense to do it now'

When Texans owner Bob McNair held a press conference to announce the firing of head coach Gary Kubiak on Friday, the name of one player came up more than any other: Case Keenum.

Keenum has had ups and downs as the Texans’ starting quarterback and Kubiak benched him in the second half of Thursday night’s loss to the Jaguars in favor of Matt Schaub for the second time this year.

It looked like Schaub might have done enough to win back his job for the rest of the season had Kubiak remained coach. But he was fired.

And owner McNair seems to be in Keenum’s corner.

“Case is going to be the quarterback,” the owner said. “We’re going to give him a chance to see how he can perform. I think the jury is still out. He’s got a lot of ability. He’s shown some flashes of brilliance and then he’s shown some rookie mistakes. We’ve got to see if we can improve, eliminate those mistakes, minimize those mistakes and continue some of the outstanding play that (we’ve) seen and see whether we think that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. At this point, we really don’t know.”

When asked about his decision-making process to fire Kubiak, McNair almost immediately talked about Keenum, the local favorite who set records at the University of Houston. He talked about needing to see if Keenum is capable of being a starter or a backup in the NFL. McNair said the only way to find out is to have Keenum play. If Kubiak remained coach, there’s a chance that wouldn’t have happened.

“We’ve been evaluating it every game and asking the question, ‘What’s in the best interest of the organization?’” McNair said. “We have a young quarterback, Case Keenum, and we need to find out whether Case is capable of being a starter or whether he’s capable of being a backup and the way you find that out is by playing him. We have waited to see how that was developing and to see how much progress we could make in the development of him as a player. We’re at the point now where we needed to go ahead and make some changes because losing like this is just unacceptable and something that we just can’t tolerate.”

Keenum has started seven games for the Texans this season and has finished two. He has completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 1,592 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. At times, he has looked really good. And at other times, he has looked like he doesn't belong in the NFL.

McNair was asked if not sticking with Keenum was a key contributor in the firing of Kubiak.

“No, the whole key is what is in the best interest of the organization,” McNair answered. “And, Case has had his ups and downs and we think that he needs to be given the opportunity and he will be given the opportunity now, but there were a lot of other things that happened. Fourteen penalties (against Jacksonville) – that is not the difference between Case and Matt playing or making a change. Things like that are just totally unacceptable.”