The Case for T.J.: Why Yates Deserves to Be Texans' No. 2 QB
If or when Case Keenum is named the No. 3 quarterback for the Texans, it should be noted that he didn't lose the race to be Matt Schaub's top backup. T.J. Yates won it.
Marco Torres, Houston Press It's an unpopular opinion, but T.J. Yates did enough this preseason to keep his job.
In a Chronicle poll Thursday night, 86% of fans wanted Keenum to be named No. 2. It's understandable, given his days at the University of Houston, and the spark he gave the Houston offense at times over the past month.
Indeed, Keenum's strong performance -- 43-of-63 (68 percent), 482 yards (7.7 average), three touchdowns, zero interceptions and 106.7 quarterback rating -- would usually be enough to win a job. In fact, two weeks ago, I wrote here that Keenum should win it, based on his improvisation skills and overall upside.
From that end, little has changed. The only problem is that Yates has been even better, and it's time to give him his due.
For Yates, the final preseason numbers are staggering. A 70-percent completion percentage (35-of-50), 417 total yards (8.3 average), four touchdowns and no interceptions -- all for a quarterback rating of 121.8. Despite his lack of mobility relative to Keenum, Yates was only sacked one time.
From a physical standpoint, the 6-foot-4 Yates is the better player. There's a reason he was drafted (2011 5th round) and the generously listed 6-foot-1 Keenum wasn't. Quite simply, Yates is taller and has a bigger arm. He also has the advantage of NFL experience -- and in December and January, at that.
The question comes down to whether Keenum's mental skills -- i.e., his creativity and improvisation -- are far enough beyond Yates's to override the disadvantages in size, arm and experience. Though Yates was impressive as a rookie (rating of 80.7, guiding the Texans to four wins in seven tries, including one in the playoffs), his limited second-year experiences weren't good, and many around the team wondered if Yates had the mental spark to be a legitimate NFL quarterback and not merely a system caretaker.
In short, could Yates be a playmaker?