In his first start Sunday at Houston's Reliant Stadium, Texans quarterback Case Keenum did nothing less than impress a national television audience while nearly stunning the first-place Indianapolis Colts.
Keenum threw three touchdowns in the first half and finished 20-for-34 with 350 passing yards. While casual fans across the country may have been surprised to see the undrafted Keenum perform so well, no one in the Texans organization was shocked.
“I wish I could say I was impressed, but I’m not because I’ve seen him do it," running back Ben Tate said Sunday. "I’ve seen him do it in practice. I’ve seen him do it in camp. So that’s just Case to me. I think if you weren’t around then, you’re impressed by him, but I always have said he’s a baller and he’s a natural leader."
The Texans have been singing Keenum's praises for weeks, and after Keenum's first start, Houston quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell compared the 25-year-old to Doug Flutie.
"I think there's uniqueness to guys like him, don't necessarily have the physical stature that you're looking for, but can make up for it in other ways with some other skills or vision or being able to move," Dorrell said. "That's usually the case from guys that are his size, so he was able to really ... In the same mindset with Doug Flutie."
Both Keenum (6-foot-1) and Flutie (5-foot-10) are smaller quarterbacks who made a living with an extremely strong arm and a superb pocket presence. So what does Flutie think of the comparisons?
The 51-year-old Flutie told ThePostGame he watched the first half of Sunday night's game and was impressed with Keenum.
"What I saw was a big cannon of an arm," Flutie said. "A gunslinger that just said, ‘You know what? This is my opportunity to play. If we’re calling a deep route, I’m flipping throwing it.’ And he just turned the thing loose. No fear."
It's a nice honor for Keenum to be compared to Flutie, who played for four NFL teams and was voted to one Pro Bowl during his 12-year NFL career, but it's still too early in Keenum's career to make any substantive comparisons. Instead, Flutie chose another young quarterback as the one whose game is most similar to his.
"Russell [Wilson] is running more the type of stuff that I ran when I was in the NFL," Flutie said.
Wilson, who like Flutie is south of 6-feet-tall, has a strong arm but is also not afraid to scramble. As a rookie last year, Wilson threw for 3,118 yards and ran for 489 more. That was the third highest mark among quarterbacks. This year only Terrelle Pryor (489 yards) has scrambled for more yards than Wilson (375).
It wasn't too long ago that coaches were skeptical of quarterbacks who relied on their legs, but in the era of spread offenses and uber-athletic quarterbacks, coaches are more willing to let their signal callers run wild. Quarterbacks like Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton have had lots of success running the football, but they're all under 25 years old.
Flutie says it's still unclear whether these players will be able to produce at the same rate in five or ten years.
"These guys are all athletic enough now to make plays with their legs, and it seems like coaches are not afraid of them getting hurt," Flutie told ThePostGame. "That’s the one variable. It’s only been a few years of this, and [Griffin's] been getting nicked up and a couple of guys have taken shots. Will these quarterbacks last 10 to 15 years running as much as they do?"