Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/18/14

In the first of a series of articles that will analyze the position battles heading into training camp for the Houston Texans, Texans 101 will look at the quarterback position. This is a logical place to start because of the importance of solid quarterback play, but most position battles are for starting jobs. There is no competition for the starting quarterback job, it will be Matt Schaub should he be 100% healthy (and all signs indicate he is). Past Schaub, there are three QBs fighting for two roster spots: T.J. Yates, John Beck, and Case Keenum.

This positional competition is initially between Beck and Keenum. In the minds of many, Yates’ performance last year once Schaub went down for the season with his Lisfranc injury unquestionably pencils him in as the teams #2 QB. As the #3 QB in 2011, Yates went 2-3 in the five regular season games he started, leading the Texans to their first AFC South divisional title. He then helped the franchise win its first playoff game in the wild card round against the Cincinnati Bengals before getting bounced by the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. Yates was average at best as a passer in his time as the team’s starter, mostly relying on the run game and managing the rest. But his poise as a rookie in the situations he was thrown into is probably good enough to get him the backup job at least for this upcoming campaign. The Texans likely feel the same way because they cut former backup QB Matt Leinart in the offseason. 

This topic now shifts to the #3 QB spot. Beck is a six year pro spending time with four different teams. Beck has only started five games during that stretch, primarily contributing as a second or third string player. Keenum is an undrafted rookie who just finished a career at U of Houston in which he set the NCAA records for career passing yards, touchdowns, and completions. Not much was heard of from Beck during OTAs last month, but much was made about how good Keenum looked during the workouts. Beck has proven to be not much more than a career backup while Keenum, given the right system and circumstance, could easily develop into a solid backup if not a potential NFL starting quarterback. Barring a complete training camp collapse by Keenum, expect him to beat out Beck for the final QB roster spot.

The true intrigue at the quarterback position for the Texans isn’t going to come this offseason but next offseason. Schaub will become a free agent at the end of the season, will be turning 32 years old and has had some injury concerns. There is no guarantee that Schaub will be back next season as the starter because much of that will depend on his production and health in 2012. It seems pretty clear for now that Yates will be the #2 and Keenum will be the #3, but who is to say it will stay that way. Yates did okay in his small window of opportunity in 2011, but he doesn’t seem like a guy who could ever be a full-time NFL starting QB, which is something NFL teams want in their #2. A solid, capable career backup appears to be more Yates’ speed. And then with Keenum, it’s too early to know for sure what you have in him, but there was a reason he went undrafted despite his record-setting collegiate career. Size and abilities outside the spread offense are the question marks with Keenum and only time will tell if he can adjust to the pro game. 

One year from now, the QB position could look completely different for the Texans. If Schaub has a bad season, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Texans do not re-sign him if they feel they can no longer depend on him. Should that be the case, don’t expect the team to turn to Yates or Keenum. The Texans are entering the first Super Bowl window in franchise history and wont waste it on developing a young quarterback. Should this scenario play out, look for the Texans to pursue a veteran QB. The Texans’ best bet would be to stay with Schaub because the 2013 free agent QB list includes the likes of Rex Grossman, Derek Anderson, and Vince Young, but if the cards aren’t dealt that way the Texans will have to adjust. 

But as we stand here today heading into the 2012 season, Schaub will be the starter, Yates will be the #2, and Keenum will fill out the QB roster at #3.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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