Houston There’s Still A Problem

“Obviously, Matt’s our starting quarterback.”

That statement by the Houston Texans’ head coach would seem to put to rest any speculation about what Gary Kubiak is going to do when and if Matt Schaub becomes physically capable of playing again, which could be after the bye week, when they play the Indianapolis Colts.

But the NFL debut of Case Keenum wasn’t too bad at all. Keenum, who set a lot of NCAA records when he was playing at the University of Houston, was strong in pre-season action but had never gotten a chance to throw a pass in a regular season game. But Kubiak took a chance with him, bypassing T.J. Yates, and gave him a start against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

Well, Keenum’s first time out was not prolific enough to drive the Texans to a victory, but it wasn’t too bad at all. He was 15 for 25 and those passes went for 271 yards, which is an average of 10.8 yards an attempt. To give you a perspective, if that played itself out over the entire season, it would lead the league by quite a margin. As it is, Keenum now has the best yards-per-attempt average of anyone who has thrown more than ten passes.

This may not carry any weight with Kubiak, but the fact is, this team, which is priced at +800 to win the AFC South at BetOnline, may be on the verge of having a six or even seven-game losing streak, and that might not allow Kubiak to make ANY decisions for too much longer if he’s not careful.

Some felt that the Tennessee Titans were putting Jake Locker into the lineup a little too soon. A late announcement that Locker, who was sitting out with a hip injury, would start against the home game against San Francisco brought some skepticism with it. But Locker came through with 326 yards on 25 of 41 passing, although he did suffer his first interception of the season. Locker will be under center when the Titans come out of their bye week on November 3 against St. Louis.

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had said that Robert Griffin III was going to run some more, and run he did. Griffin had gone into the October 13 game against Dallas with just 18 rushes for 72 yards. But he ran nine times for 77 yards against the Cowboys, and added 84 yards in eleven attempts in the wild win over Chicago this past Sunday. So opposing defensive coordinators, like Jack Del Rio of the Denver Broncos, have something additional to worry about, once again. The Redskins are 11.5-point underdogs to the Broncos this weekend, according to the odds at BetOnline.

Brandon Weeden isn’t going to stay in the NFL for very long if he continues to perform the way he did against Green Bay last week. Weeden completed just 17 of his 42 passes against the Packers, which came out to just 3.5 yards an attempt. He’s been yanked out of the lineup and will be replaced by veteran Jason Campbell this week as the Browns played undefeated Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. They are 7.5-point underdogs to the Chiefs. Campbell has had the chance to be a starter with both the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, and started one game for the Chicago Bears last year when Jay Cutler was injured.

Cutler is injured again, and the Bears are turning to Josh McCown, one half of the mediocre brother combination that also includes his brother Luke. Josh is now with his seventh NFL team; he has 47 career TD passes and 52 interceptions. He is supposed to start four games. The Bears have a bye week before facing Green Bay in a Monday night contest.

Were we on target or not when writing about Nick Foles last week? It turns out that if Foles gave the Philadelphia Eagles their best chance to win against the Dallas Cowboys, they must have had no chance at all. Before getting knocked out of the game with a concussion, Foles had completed 11 of 29 passes for a grand total of 80 yards. And this was against a defensive unit that was banged up on the defensive line.

Matt Barkley, the rookie out of USC, was inserted into the game because he was the only guy left. The problem was that the coordinator on the other side of the field was Monte Kiffin, who ran the defense with the Trojans while Barkley was playing there. Against a defensive mind that knew everything about what he could do well, and not so well, Barkley tossed three interceptions in the fourth quarter. It looks like the Eagles will be going back to Michael Vick for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants (where they are a 4.5-point favorite at BetOnline). Vick, however, was scheduled to run a 100-yard dash on Friday, as a test of sorts, so stay tuned for further news about his sore hamstring.

Finally, we’d like to demonstrate once again the importance of studying game tape if you are a head coach. We’re being a little facetious, but New York Jets’ coach Rex Ryan really did spot something in his preparation that directly helped his team win a game. In watching footage of the New England Patriots against the New Orleans Saints, Ryan noticed that the Pats had orchestrated a maneuver where one player pushed a teammate toward the middle and into offensive linemen on opposing field goal attempts, in order to scuttle the blocking. Such a thing is now illegal. Ryan warned the officials about it during the game, and it was not called until overtime, when the Jets’ Nick Folk was attempting a 56-yard field goal that missed.

The flag came down and the 15-yard penalty was assessed, giving Folk another try, this time from 41 yards. He made it for the win, and undoubtedly a satisfying moment for Ryan, who has been playing mind games with Bill Belichick since he came into his job with the Jets (a 6.5–point underdog in NFL betting this week against Cincinnati).

In a radio interview during the week, the Jets’ former special teams coach, Mike Westhoff, wondered why New England would be trying such a technique in a 56-yard field goal, which would have been the longest of Folk’s career.

We would wonder that too.

And why the referees would wait until that moment to call the penalty is something that might merit “further review.”

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