Case Keenum’s phone has been filled with messages this week from former coaches and teammates wishing him well in his first NFL playoff start. The list of those reaching out includes Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who texted Keenum.
So human nature would suggest the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback can’t treat the Divisional round playoff matchup with the New Orleans Saints like any other game. But Keenum said Thursday his gameplan for Sunday is going to be like any other time he’s started this year.
“I’m going to play like I know how to play, I don’t have to be anybody but myself,” Keenum said. “Not more conservative or less conservative. Either way, I’m gonna be me.”
While the Vikings’ quarterback created an impressive number of explosive plays in the passing game, he was often asked to be efficient rather than aggressive. Keenum ranked seventh in air yards per completion, according to NFL Next Gen stats. However, head coach Mike Zimmer expressed some concerns about his quarterback trying too hard for a big play after a two-interception performance against Washington.
“There’s a fine line,” Keenum said. “I think a lot of it is just knowing what Pat [Shurmur’s] intent is calling a play. Knowing what defense he wants to take shots in, when he wants to check it down, when he wants to be smart with the ball.”
Keenum may not have game experience in the postseason, but he was on the Houston Texans roster in 2012 when they went 12-4 and won a home playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I was always learning,” Keenum said. “That was my redshirt year, I call it. To be part of a playoff run like that, to see the preparation that goes into it. To see how quickly the game goes, it goes so fast. Everything’s so amplified.”
While nothing quite matches playoff atmosphere, the Vikings have been in the spotlight often this year. Keenum entered a Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears and went 17-fot-21 in a key victory. They also played on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit and on national TV against the Green Bay Packers late in the season.
”For us, it’s remember what got us here,” Keenum said. “It’s a big game, but we’ve played a lot of big games. It is the same game we’ve been playing. Last time I checked, same field, same stadium, same field, same amount of time. Obviously it’s a big game, we’re putting a lot into this, but we put a lot into every week. It’s business as usual for us.”