If Gary Kubiak is going down with the ship in Houston this year, he's going down with his guys.
The Texans announced Thursday that quarterback Case Keenum will start Sunday in Kansas City, a surprising choice since T.J. Yates has more experience and has been the team's backup all year. Matt Schaub is out with an ankle injury. Yates' tentative, mistake-prone performance last week in relief of Schaub must have been a factor. But we believe there is more at play here.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle wrote this week that he believes Kubiak will be fired if the team continues to embarrass itself. Kubiak knows he has a veteran team, and this is a season in which the Texans were expected to be Super Bowl contenders.
The Texans are 2-4 and about to face the best defense in the NFL in the Chiefs. The Texans' offense has scored just two touchdowns in four weeks. Over that same span, opposing defenses have returned four interceptions for touchdowns against them. (Five consecutive games overall.)
Kubiak often is a very conservative coach when he's calling plays. This is not a conservative move. This is Kubiak going with a young player he believes in, no matter the risk.
"I didn't hesitate cause I feel like we need a spark," Kubiak said. "I think it's the best thing for our team."
Undrafted out of the University of Houston, Keenum spent last year on the practice squad. He challenged Yates for the backup job over the offseason and acquitted himself well in the preseason.
Keenum doesn't have a big arm, but he has impressed folks inside the Houston building with his play. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips compared Keenum to Tony Romo, another undrafted quarterback who learned his craft on the bench.
Romo didn't have to make his first start in the loudest stadium in the league, against the NFL's most ferocious pass rush. The deck is stacked against Keenum.
Kubiak knows it, but it doesn't matter. He's not coaching scared.