Ok, I know Case Keenum doesn’t have a big arm like a Stafford or a Rodgers but we saw him whip a couple of bullet passes in to the receiver last week when the situation demanded it. He can rear back and throw it a bit but we haven’t often seen him throw the high-velocity passes that too often deflect off the reciever’s fingertips and become up for grabs. He throws a nice catchable ball. Often referred to as a pass with “touch”, such a pass is often a key element in a receiver’s ability to run after the catch. We’ve seen that quite a bit this year with well-thrown balls that the receiver can handle in stride and turn upfield for additional yardage. So far, it seems to be working out real well for us.
If that doesn’t remind you of what we were saying about Nick Foles circa 2013-2014, I don’t know what will. Vikings fans are deliriously talking themselves into Case Keenum being a good quarterback on the strength of his shit arm. That should be worth a three-point dip in the line itself.
Keenum has had a terrific, Pro Bowl caliber season replacing the injured Sam Bradford – heretofore know as Sam Bradford – and leading the Vikings to the brink of… well, Minnesota. He should be lauded and applauded, commended and recommended, PRAISED AND RAISED for his performance, Mr. A. Smith. But now, on the cusp of a Super Bowl berth, it is time to shit all over him.
We’ve done a good job of classing up the joint over the past several months. Kevin has turned in PROFESSIONAL work on the Eagles and Sixers. Sean Cottrell has dutifully broken down game film. Tim Reilly has written eloquently about Philly’s ability to lure Amazon to the region. Phil has broken down the societal and legal ramifications of national sports storylines.
And Coggin Toboggan has penned a guide to murdering sports talk radio hosts by suffocating them in the fumes of cured Italian meats. Sure we’ve kept our sense of humor, but we’ve grown up a bit.
I’d like to undo all of that by assigning Case Keenum the nickname: floaty balls.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said of Keenum’s luck earlier this season, “he has a horseshoe right now.” That’s code for he fucking sucks but variance has worked in his favor as he’s slung impossible balls to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen who have been saving his bacon all year fuck I can’t believe an injured Teddy Bridgewater, dopey Sam Bradford and Case Keenum are the fucking quarterbacks I have to work with alongside this great defense.
At least I think that’s what he was saying. Either way, the only thing having a horeshoe will do for you in Philly on Saturday is provide a last-resort defense against a drunken asshole who decides to punch your equine friend in the snout.
Keenum throws a bad ball. His “soft touch” is actually a bigtime liability. His struggles in the face of pressure, as Kevin pointed out yesterday, will be a huge problem against the league’s most ferocious front. And that horseshoe… yeah, the Eagles are gonna turn the sumbitch sideways and shove it up… what The Rock said.
Specifically, Case Keenum throws a football like a midget picking up a boulder. Or like he’s doing shot put not particularly well.
His balls, for lack of a better term, float.
They hang in the air just a split second too long.
It’s not that he’s not accurate, or not a gamer, or doesn’t seem to have the ability to pull a rabbit out of his hat– it’s just that he leaves every throw up in the air just a beat too long… except for the ones he throws right into the ground.
His passes hang in the air like eggs fly through space in Super Mario Bros. 2:
There’s a reason why the Vikings’ offense relies on its mediocre ground game – they are 22nd in rush yards per attempt – and it’s because a conservative, clock-chewing approach is the only way to prevent Keenum from exposing himself as a downfield passer. He was average or worse on passes over 20 yards this season:
While he had a QB rating of 5.1 under pressure against the Saints, he was pressured on 39% of his dropbacks this year and was sacked on only 10% of them:
A quarterback’s sack rate is not always an indicator of his offensive line, and no one exemplified that like Case Keenum this season. He faced the seventh-most pressure in the league (39.3 percent of his dropbacks), but he was sacked only 22 times on the year, less than 22 other quarterbacks. The key stat is his sack rate under pressure, which came in at 10.7 percent, second-best in the league. Keenum’s pocket presence has been one of his biggest strengths and even when defenders close in, he’s had a knack for getting rid of the ball and avoiding negative plays. That will be one of the biggest keys to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, who pressure the quarterback at a higher rate than any team in the league. It won’t help Keenum’s cause that he is still playing behind a sub-par, makeshift offensive line.
So he does a good job of not taking the loss, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he excels in the face of pressure. Indeed he seems to prefer to get rid of the ball and rely on Diggs and Thielen, who combined for the highest contested catch rate in the NFL this season.
If you don’t believe me, watch some of these throws from Sunday against a Saints front that doesn’t exactly intimidate anybody and tell me I’m wrong. Try to look past the outcome of some of these plays – beneficial flags or miraculous catches – and watch the trajectory of his eggs:
I’ve seen shuttlecocks that have more respect for gravitational forces.
Now, I’m well aware that Nick Foles suffers some of these same problems and, all things being equal, is worse than Case Keenum. But as I’ve been saying, all of the little things are working in the Eagles’ favor and this is a good matchup. The Vikings want to pound the ball on the ground with Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray, whom Kevin called “solid” but I’ll call serviceable. The Eagles, however, all season have been forcing opponents to throw, or if you’ll recall, making them one-dimensional.
The Vikings will have a choice to make: try to run their useless running backs against the Eagles’ dominant run defense, or have Case Keenum try to open it up against a slightly inconsistent Eagles secondary.
I think they’re going to do the latter, and that will leave Keenum exposed. His balls get… floatier… when he’s under heavy pressure. For as little he gets on even routine throws, he gets even less on ones where his feet aren’t set. That sets up highlight reel catches like you saw from Thielen in the video, but it also leads to balls that are ripe for the picking. So I expect we’ll see a play where Brandon Graham gets in his face and forces him to toss one up to his preferred right side where Jalen Mills or Malcolm Jenkins intercepts it and returns it for a pick six. It’s the difference in the game. The Eagles win 10-9.
Case Keenum has had a good season, but his balls float and it’s time they dropped into whatever paw-talon hybrid the Eagles will be flying around with on Sunday.