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The ups and downs of Case Keenum’s risk taking

“Case Keenum has a little bit of Brett Favre in him!”

It seems like every time a risk-taking quarterback comes along – especially one who throws downfield or runs around in the backfield looking for a pass – that QB gets the honor of being compared to one of history’s best quarterbacks. What’s really being said, however, is that said quarterback makes a lot of ill-advised throws.

One reason for the comparisons is that we’ve lost who Favre really was.

Several key INTs in huge moments shaped our long-term view, but The Old Gunslinger earned the nickname because of his all-time great arm and ability to make impossible throws into tight windows. In an hour-long sit-down with Jon Gruden, the former coach highlighted (at the 6:00 mark) throws between the cornerback and safety that few QBs could make.

“Ty Detmer said to me, ‘Why did you make that throw?” Favre told Gruden. “I said, ‘Because I can.'”

Most of the time, Favre operated offenses with impressive efficiency. His career interception percentage is lower than Hall of Famers of the era Jim Kelly and Warren Moon and noted “game managers” like Trent Dilfer and Rex Grossman. In his magical 2009 season with the Vikings, Favre had the NFL’s lowest interception percentage. During a three year stretch of MVP seasons, Favre averaged 37 touchdowns and 14 INTs – a fairly low mark for the era.

The “Brett Favre” in Keenum isn’t his arm strength, rather his willingness to look for a big play when there isn’t a big play available and his ability to extend plays outside the pocket.

With Favre, the good vastly outweighed the bad. So far, there has been a lot of good from Keenum’s risks, but without the arm strength of top QBs, head coach Mike Zimmer appears concerned that the good won’t sustain.

Following last week’s win over the Los Angeles Rams, the Vikings’ head coach said, “he’s got a horseshoe right now.” Key words being, “right now.”

But Zimmer followed up on Tuesday with praise for Keenum’s fearlessness.

“The thing I like the most about Case is he’s got big balls,” Zimmer said. “He’s not afraid. He’s going to pull the trigger and he is going to play like that. That’s a good thing.”

Both things can be true at once.

Keenum went viral on Sunday for his 12-yard completion to Adam Thielen. There’s good and bad within this play alone. The Vikings’ quarterback kept his eyes down field in the face of pressure from his backside and in front of his face. On the All-22 film, you can see Adam Thielen throw his hand up and run to space. Keenum wouldn’t have spotted Thielen had he been rattled by the defenders in his grill or the impending hit

The problem with this throw is that Keenum wasn’t able to put any velocity behind the ball because of the proximity of the rusher to said grill. It was more of a shot put than a throw. If the corner had reacted a little quicker or the ball hadn’t been in the exact right spot, it would have gone for an interception or at best an incompletion. Coaches wouldn’t advise their quarterbacks to routinely float passes down the field while under extreme pressure.

On Tuesday, Keenum called himself out for being overly aggressive on the play below.

“You want to give your guys a chance, but some chances are better than others, some risks are better than others,” Keenum said. “Take the third down we threw to Adam last week. Pretty well covered by LeMarcus Joyner, I had a chance but you might check it down at that point and get a first down. There’s a lot of give and take and different ways you can look at it.”

Keenum has a receiver come wide open underneath that would have easily resulted in a first down, instead he launched the ball down the middle of the field to a blanketed Thielen.

The Vikings’ two top receivers Thielen and Stefon Diggs have given Keenum a reason to believe in risky throws as they have routinely won one-on-one battles down the field. But that doesn’t make a throw into tight coverage always the right play.

NFL.com’s Next Generation statistics list Keenum 11th in “Aggressiveness,” a stat determined by the closeness of defenders to targets. That number might be a little high on the list for Zimmer’s liking.

Comparable QBs in terms of aggressiveness include mostly rocket-armed QBs like Jameis Winston, Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan. Quarterbacks like Blake Bortles, Trevor Siemien and DeShone Kizer also have similar aggressiveness ratings. Jared Goff and Alex Smith have the lowest percentage of throws into tight coverage.

And while Keenum has landed four of six long bombs over 40 yards, but his throws between 20-40 have not gone particularly well. He’s completed just 6-of-21 throws with two interceptions and a 38.7 rating on downfield tosses. By the way, Brett Favre had a rating of 119.3 on throws between 21-30 and 106.3 on throws between 31-40 yards in 2009.

Anyway – the takeaway here is that Keenum’s “gunslinger” or “gamer” mentality can help him in some ways, especially with Thielen’s ability to improvise when things break down. But there’s a curve on risk taking. If Keenum continues to throw passes into coverage or force throws with pressure in his face, things might not always go as well as they have so far – unless he actually does have a lucky horseshoe.

  • IrreverentOne

    The only thing that I can say is that the corner didn’t act a little quicker and the ball was in the exact right spot. You’re going to need to remember this…if your uncle didn’t have balls he’d be your aunt.

    • Sn Mr

      Auntcle Case to hear both sides. 😉

  • Theguds

    “what ifs”…. what if the DB reacted a little faster… what if the tipped ball got intercepted… What if Case placed the ball 2 inches more to the right…. Everyone playing the “what if” game needs to find a new argument. I suspect these same people will be “what iffing” all the way to in to the playoffs and even on in to the Super Bowl if the VIkes are fortunate enough.

    • Drediock

      What if ESPN replaced Coller with someone competent who didnt play the part of shill in half his articles?

      • Theguds

        I love this idea! Was this guy writing when Ponder was here? Love to here what his thoughts were on Ponder at the time.

        • Drediock

          Here is what he is doing. He’s basically calling for Keenum to have a bad game so he can say “I told ya so”
          We all know that at some point in his career Keenum will have a bad game. Even the best of the best of the best have bad games. Matthew (the shill) Coller is simply predicting the super predictable so he can try and lay claim to being some great mind that saw it coming.
          Purely an amateurish move by what I see as being a little more then just that.

          • Scott Mitchell

            He must be taking notes from Jugghead.

          • Theguds

            That it is. He sure is in the bag for bathwater.

      • WIVIK

        You compare journeyman Case Keenum to Elway and Tarkenton, and then question someone else’s competence?

        • Drediock

          I compare them to the same.poimts in their careers yes. Which is certainly the more competent approach then Matt (the shill) Coller takes in comparing him to Favre

          • linus

            You compare the stats of a QB in 2017 to the stats of QBs in the 70s and 80s, and then question someone else’s competence?

          • Drediock

            I compare them to the same.poimts in their careers yes. Which is
            certainly the more competent approach then Matt (the shill) Coller takes
            in comparing him to Favre

  • Drediock

    I seem to remember one John Elway having a bit of gunslinger to him as well as another by the name of Tarkenton
    then again. Im old enough to remember actually watching Elway play, Tarkenton too. And I remember people making the same type observations,/comparisons complaints and about Tarkenton that Mathew (The Shill) Coller makes now.
    Course in hindsight (which is always 20/20) they seem to have turned out to be pretty good players.
    BTW. Through he first 6 years of his Career. Keenum has both a better QB rating, completion % and int% then Tarkenton and Elway did.

    • tk6

      None of those stats mattered back then, only winning!!!

  • Drediock

    “The problem with this throw is that Keenum wasn’t able to put any
    velocity behind the ball because of the proximity of the rusher to said
    grill. It was more of a shot put than a throw.”
    He didnt have to have any velocity on it. All he needed to do was put the ball where a defender couldnt get it and where a Viking receiver might. Look at the play again and you will see that at no point was that pass ever in danger of being intercepted. Either it gets caught by Thielen or it doesnt get caught at all regardless of “IF” the corner acted quicker or not.

    Granted the other pass wasnt so great. but its also the same not so great pass Ive seen superstars like Elway, Tarkenton, Marino, Simms, Montana, Brady, Favre, Manning,Rodgers, or any other superstar QB you can name try to make. Some with disastrous results

  • Gordon Guffey

    Oh my god ~ How much hate do you have Coller that you spend so much time on Case Keenum ~ To funny and sad at the same time ~

    I promised my wife I would stop tormenting my fellow Viking fans ~ Even if they do have their own players fan club ~ Well it was fun while it lasted ~ No more long posts about Teddy and Case ~ Coller and Judd I leave it in your capable hands for the {{{ Just Add Water For Major BS club }}} ~ LOL

    I can’t say that I have had as much fun and enjoyment in a single season of football as I have when the Teddy Only fans joining up with the Teddy Fan Club ~ How many members combine do you have now ~ The funny thing is when and if Teddy does get on the field ((( if he plays well ))) you guys are not going to have anyone to throw your victory too ~ The the rest of us TEAM FAN ((( We dont need a club ))) will still be great with what is taking place if he is playing winning football ~ On the other hand if Teddy isn’t great ~ Well we will talk about that then ~ Lets hope if he gets on the field he plays lights out ~ I know I hope that when Case is on the field but I know the ones of you who would gladly take loses just as long as it wasn’t Case or Bradford ~ The best part of that is watching to see just how you guys were going to blame in on the rest of the team units ~ Do I hate Teddy ~ Far from it ~ I hate losing more than anything or player ~

    I still believe that the Vikings should draft a QB’s high no matter how anyone plays from here on out ~ Case and Teddy are nothing but system QB’s and I guess this is why I have had so much fun with you Teddy guys
    ~ If you dont believe I felt that way from the beginning go back and look at my posts from the offseason ~
    You guys put way to much faith and time in worrying about your favorite plays ~ Most of us worry about the team as a whole ~ No matter who the QB is {{{ unless he sucks }}} ~ I’m hoping to enjoy the rest of the season and if there is a change then Zimmer will make it ~

    Peace out ~

    • tk6

      Well then Gordy stop!!! Keep your promise to your beautiful wife, please!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

      • Gordon Guffey

        Oh I will for as long as I can ~ Then I will either leave here or she might stomp a mud puddle in my a$$ for not keeping my word LOL~ Hopefully the Teddy world can live without me for the rest of the year ~

        tk6 I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanks Giving ~ !!!!!!

        • tk6

          Thank you Sir!! I love Teddy too but it just does not make sense to put him in for the sake of seeing how “he can play now.” This team really seems to play for one another, great team philosophy! SKOL!!

          • Gordon Guffey

            Totally agree tk6 ~

    • David Prestin

      You ain’t going anywhere.

    • Jeeves

      Be chilled, my good buddy. Please read my reply to Foreman44 above.
      Blessings on your Thanksgiving. SKOL!

      • Gordon Guffey

        Hope you and yours have a great Thank Giving also Jeeves ~ !!!!

    • Scott Myhre

      C’mon Gordon, stick around and keep writing! Nearly everything you write makes more sense than the beat writers on this site do! The one advantage that I have over these guys is that I’ve been putting up with them since 1961 (at age 12) and have outlasted all of them including those that came before this site even existed. These talking heads have only one purpose, their pocket book. Most of them don’t even like the team they cover, but it’s a check. You on the other hand, write because you are really passionate about the Vikings and want to make some sense of the decisions being made. Lastly, the one thing I’ve learned in all these years is that no matter who I agree or disagree with, it’s out of my hands. So in the end, the only advice I can give to you is, never promise a wife anything, unless you have your fingers crossed. hint hint….. LOL…..

      • Matthew Coller

        I have to say, Scott, you win. Congrats! The most ludicrous comment that’s ever been made on this here comment section is now: “The journalists do it for the money”

      • Gordon Guffey

        I’m not going anywhere Scott ~ I would take my wife stomping a mud puddle in my a$$ for you guys ~ Much better than the 357 slug in my a$$ ~ I have a good one so I will do my best not to get the Teddy fans upset ~ I have been known to slip over the past 60 years ~ Smiley Face ~ On the other hand I didn’t promise I wouldn’t call out the talking heads on other subjects ~ LOL ~ I still can’t believe she said that to me ~ A mud puddle in my a$$ ~ I have been laughing all day over that one ~

  • David Prestin

    “Keenum has a receiver come wide open underneath that would have easily resulted in a first down, instead he launched the ball down the middle of the field to a blanketed Thielen.”

    Yeah, he throws underneath and you call him a dink and dunk QB. You have to take some shots down the field… especially when 1 on 1.

    How bout you guys stop with the Keenum articles. We all know how you feel about him so these BS articles trying to back up your view is getting silly. The stats are important, but not as important as that 8-2 record the Vikings currently have. And Case is partially responsible for 7 of those W’s.

    • Jennifer

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      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it GoogleNetJobsHelpWorkFromHome……

  • Foreman 44

    Good Read – Case has mobility and competes. Case helps the OLine. He is good at throwing balls early and softly into empty areas of the field. Case lets his WRs go get it. Case throws a soft but accurate deep ball. Manning & Brady did this. Case is a great fit for this offense. Now this is also true: Case has spotty ball placement which hurts RAC and will cause INTs. He has gotten away with multiple INT worthy throws every game.That won’t last forever. He will single handedly lose some games when DBs catch them. His arm strength and ball placement will not get better he is approaching 30 years old. He is a limited upside guy who can win in a specific offense with a great defense. The Vikings offer that. Teddy is an unknown right now. I am rooting for both of them. I do hope Teddy gets to play. (Higher ceiling if he can throw more accurately deep) If Teddy is done Vikes need to know that too. Case can play. Case can also sit a game and compete for job with Teddy. Next 6 years (SB window) depends on getting the right guy!

    • Jeeves

      Agreed. I don’t find this article to be negative about Chase. It’s a list of reasons supporting/explaining Zimmer’s hesitancy to completely buy into the Keenum phenomena. It’s also a heads up to some very possible outcomes.
      It’s fine to be a Case fan and root for his and the team’s success. No one is suggesting anything different.
      It’s time for some folks to quit being so thin skinned and delicate. SKOL Vikings, including ALL QBs on the roster!
      SKOL and Happy Thanksgiving to all fans on this site, even if we disagree!





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