Fun with Stats: A Full Season of 2017 Case Keenum

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Sometimes stats can be misleading, projections can be proven wrong and career backups can become starters? This week we throw around some projections and comparisons. 

    There are certain names that come to mind when discussing the best season a Vikings quarterback has ever played: Tarkenton, Kramer, Culpepper, Moon, Favre. Unquestioned starters from day one, those Quarterbacks were never worried about losing their starting jobs, given their positions on the team. This season, Case Keenum was thrust into the starting job after Sam Bradford’s knees relegated him to a bench position and because of the weekly ambiguity shown by Mike Zimmer on his starting signal caller, its easy to forget that Keenum has played in ten (and started nine) of the Vikings twelve regular season games this year. Keenum, as you may have heard, has been playing very well but it is hard to believe that he is having an all time great Vikings quarterback season. Because math, averages and projections are easier when divided by ten, let’s take Case Keenum’s 2017 stats so far, boil them down to their game averages and then stretch those averages out over a full 16 game season and see how they compare historically with the great seasons of Viking’s Quarterbacks.


According to Pro-football-reference.com and my caveman calculations, Keenum would throw for 3961 yards, which would put him at #5 on the Viking’s single season list behind Dante Culpepper in 2004, Warren Moon in ’94 and ’95, and Brett Favre’s magical 2009 season.Case has averaged nearly 22 completions per game, which would bring his projected season total to 348. Only five other Vikings have ever exceeded that completion total in a single season.
Yes, Keenum has been playing well, but this is no ’98 offense and the touchdown projections show as much. With a projected number of 22 touchdowns, Keenum would land at 13th on the list. However, these are the names above him: Culpepper, Cunningham, Moon, Favre, Kramer, Tarkenton and Jeff George. Not bad company to keep. Taking care of the ball is paramount in the NFL, and Case has done that this season, projecting to only 8 picks. For some context, Brett Favre threw 7 interceptions in 2009. 

Now, this obviously is not a fool proof formula and I’m only being half serious in comparing Keenum to these Vikings greats, but it does give some perspective on the incredible season we are witnessing from a “career back-up”. Perhaps it’s time we just sit back and enjoy it.

The World is a Wonderful Place and I'm Not Afraid of the Playoffs

Everything is great! Thanksgiving was amazing (thanks for asking), and we are now talking about the Vikings having home field advantage all the way through the Super Bowl. Usually in this blog, I would tell you to pump the brakes and remind everyone of all the terrible things that have gone wide left or been in the huddle when they shouldn't have been. But not this year. And it's not because I think Keenum will continue his unbelievable streak, or that I think Teddy will come back and reclaim his place on the throne. It's not that I think this defense could hang with the '85 Bears or '00 Ravens (although they are a part of it). It's not that I think Zimmer is on the fast track to having the trophy renamed Lombardi/Zimmer. 
Nope.
It's because I'm not afraid of anyone. 
It seems like nearly every year there is a super scoring, juggernaut offense with a young Offensive Coordinator that basically cleans house all regular season, creates one or two superstar Wide Receivers and then returns to a non-videogame level while winning games in the playoffs. That team is not in the 2017 NFL. Sure, the Patriots are to be respected and I would not be shocked if they represented the AFC in the Super Bowl, and I would not be surprised if they wound up beating our Vikings. But I am not afraid of them. Sure, the Eagles look pretty good, but would you bet on a second year QB on the road against this defense? Wentz doesnt scare me, There is no Hail Mary Packers, Seattle seems to be fine with Russell Wilson running for his life as an offensive scheme, Atlanta is still reeling from their Super Bowl nightmare. There is no 41-0 against this defense. The Vikings might get beat, and it might be on a heart breaking kick or interception, but we must regain our perspective. Remember, usually at this time of year the Vikings are jockeying for wild card positioning in the "still in the hunt" portion of the playoff graphic, knowing full well that even if they get in, they will eventually be exposed by a more talented team. They are in the driver seat, mainly because there is no one taking the wheel.  I dont think that team exists this year and I'm not afraid to say it. 

Case Keenum: Blue Collar Back-Up

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After basically ripping him apart every chance i got during the preseason, Case Keenum has made me a believer. His work ethic and bland question answering technique have really won me over. I'm only kind of joking.

Somewhere in Eden Prairie on Tuesday, Pro Bowl Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be snuck into a back room to be fitted for his crown, cape and scepter, while a sore, ice-wrapped, Case Keenum puts whats left of his ham sandwich back in it's ziplock baggie, and tucks the baggie back in to his large, metal, lunchpail and grabs his clipboard and camouflage Vikings hat. This is his third team in six seasons, so Case knows what a demotion looks like, but this year was different. There weren't any lopsided losses or brutal key turnovers as there were before. This team is leading the division, the interceptions are down.  Keenum has done a very good job filling in as starter for this first place football team. Sure, he isnt going to set the world on fire, but these games have proven that if given a decent offensive line and a good to great defense, Keenum can game-manage his way to a number of W's. 
He was a dead man walking all season and never complained or made questionable what does he mean there? statements to the media, even though he probably would have been justified in doing so. He gave the same "take it one game, one week at a time" responses you hope your number two guy says while he is in there. Backup quarterbacks getting significant snaps as starters are basically auditioning for the rest of the league, and I think its safe to say that Keenum nailed the audition. He was never in Minnesota to be a starter, he was here to step in if an injury happened and avoid big mistakes. He has done that and much more this season and as a result, will hopefully get overpaid by a desperate team this offseason. 
The NFL is a Quarterback needy league and there are a number of teams that are looking for a competent, veteran, starter. At the very least, there are a number of teams who will draft a young QB in this year's draft and sign Keenum as the stop gap until their young player is ready to be fitted for his crown, cape and scepter. At which point Case Keenum will put the rest of his sandwich in his lunchpail and start looking towards Cleveland, because lord knows he will get some snaps if he is on the roster there. 

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appreciation via the bye

Hello there! Welcome to the first installment of my brand spanking new blog! Here, I will be posting all of my panicky, pessimistic, sky-is-falling Vikings takes. As well as some reaction pieces on certain important games, and whatever else I have on my mind. Some weeks it will be several short jottings, some weeks it will be (kinda) long winded. Hopefully it stays entertaining. No Promises. Skol!

 

As a Vikings fan, my brain is programmed to prepare for the inevitable crash and burn each and every season. Last year, the 5-0 start was fun, but we all knew deep down this happiness could not last. This said, every year I try and take some time to appreciate the good things about the season, rather than focusing on the eventual heart removal.  While the Vikings prepare to watch the week 9 NFL schedule from the comfort of their living rooms (they're just like us!), let's take a second or two to appreciate what we have seen so far this year from our purple posse.

A 6-2 record at this point is remarkable when you lay it all out there. Here are some facts about the Vikings 2017 season so far: The starting QB has played a total of six quarters, the starting RB tore his ACL week 4, MIchael Floyd has three total catches, Treadwell is averaging a catch and a half a game, Diggs hasn't caught a TD since week 3 and Thielen caught his first TD of the year week 8.

Whew
6-2? I'll take it. 
I was taught pretty early on that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", yet here we are at 6-2, first place in the division, contemplating a QB change in weeks 10 or 11. Now, I understand why the conversations are happening (Teddy was drafted as the franchise QB, Keenum was signed to be a back up, etc.) but isnt there something to be said for the certainty (no matter how mediocre) in what you will get from Case Keenum in 2017? Doesn't anyone see the huge what if? in Teddy? I dont know, maybe I am giving this defense too much credit, but I feel like this team can make a deep playoff run with Keenum. He has been protecting the ball exceptionally well and the Vikings winning formula has been Defensive minded, low scoring games. But he is still Case Keenum. What if Teddy doesn't look good? What if he turns the ball over a bunch? What if they lose the next 4 games? What if Keenum starts to look like Keenum again? What if the defense runs out of gas? 
Oop, there goes that Vikings brain again. 

Tyler lives in Minneapolis and is one of the two hosts of BLEEDING PURPLE. Follow him on twitter @tylerhaag_