This time of year across the American Midwest the tundra is frozen. Iced over in a malaise of mid-winter, in February the Super Bowl will be held in Minneapolis Minnesota and the low is expected to be about 12 degrees Fahrenheit plus wind chill. The only thing colder than Minnesota weather is the takes the football world has on the Vikings playoff chances. It’s only because of one factor, one name, Case Keenum.
If you look at the Minnesota Vikings you can point out very few weaknesses on their team. They are the number one ranked defense in the league, have a fantastic receiving core of Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, and Steffon Diggs, and a good running game. However, time and time again people dismiss Minnesota because of their QB Case Keenum, who threw 22 touchdowns to 7 interceptions this year. If you see that stat by any other QB in the league you call them a Super Bowl Caliber QB. However, Keenums name somehow negates that. I’m writing this piece mainly because of the fact I’m pissed off that the only reason people are picking against the Vikings is because they don’t have a name brand QB.
So which QB in the league that people are falling head over heels for can closely compare with Keenum? Why Jared Goff. Goff and Keenum shared about the same stat line this year with Goff throwing 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The Rams, Goff’s team, are widely regarded the darlings to win this Super Bowl. Why though? Because they are the flashy team? This essay of sorts explores the many similarities between Goff and Keenums careers. Because not picking the Vikings because of the name Case Keenum is a cop out.
Let’s begin with their careers. Keenum was drafted in the late rounds of the NFL draft by the Texans in 2013. Keenum spent two years in Houston and in limited starts threw 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He then journeyed to Saint Louis and the next year Los Angeles with the Rams. During that time Keenum threw 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in limited starts as a backup and in 2016 and as the starter until the Rams made the switch to Goff in. Goff was selected with the first overall pick of the NFL draft by Los Angeles in their first year since moving from Saint Louis. Goff threw five touchdowns to 9 interceptions in his first year and looked like a total bust. How are Keenum and Goffs career arcs different thus far? They aren’t, Keenum has just had more time in the league. Not convinced? Let’s look at coaching over the careers of both these signal callers.
Keenum was drafted by Gary Kubiak, a man who never had success developing a young QB. Look at Trevor Siemians first year in Denver Kubiaks system was hard to learn and is nearly impossible for a young QB to master. So it is no wonder Keenum struggled in his first year. Kubiak was fired in 2013 and in came Bill Obrien. The former Patriots OC was highly touted as one of the best offensive minds in the league. That never proved true though, until Obrien got Deshaun Watson this year the Texans offense had never excelled. When the Texans lost Watson this year their offense went down the drain. That tells me that Obrien isn’t a good offensive coach if his offense completely falls off if it loses one player. Watson made Obrien this year, Obrien didnt make Watson and was never a good enough coach to improve Case Keenum. Keenum then went to Jeff Fisher in Los Angeles widely considered one of the worst coaches of the past decade offensively. Goff was born into the Fisher era as well and struggled mightily his first year. Fisher was fired and Sean Mcvay was hired in Los Angeles and turned the Rams into an offensive juggernaut, that’s not QB play from Goff that’s coaching. NFL.com writer Chris Wesseling had this to say on Goff “It isn’t that Goff is a great QB, he’s putting up these numbers because he’s throwing into the biggest windows in football, that’s all coaching.” Keenum then inherited the Vikings coaching staff that turned Sam Bradford into an all star level player. Both Keenum and Goff are a product of coaching, there is no difference. Still not convinced?
Let’s talk surrounding talent.
Keenum and Goff are both having their best years because this is the best talent they have ever been around. Keenum has his aforementioned receiving group and Goff has Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Sammy Watkins. All players that were not there the year Goff struggled. Goff is just as much a product of surrounding talent as Keenum is. Oh ya Eric but Keenum has never played in the playoffs, how do we know his talent will transfer over? Goff has never played in the playoffs either. How do you know Goffs talent level won’t dissipate in the playoffs? Your argument is invalid because the man your defending is in the exact same situation as Keenum. Well Keenum hasn’t played a talented defense yet. Are you kidding me? He carved up the Rams, while on the other side of the ball the Vikings defense completely shut down Jared Goff.
If you want to sit on your pedestal and doubt Case Keenum that’s fine, but just know it makes you look foolish. Because if you don’t believe in Keenum but believe in the Rams and Goff, you’re a total hypocrite. They have the exact same career arcs at this point, there are no differences between the two except the fact Keenum has played longer in the league as a backup and his name isn’t Goff. If that’s why you’re not giving the Vikings any respect you might want to take a hard look in the mirror, because it probably means you don’t know much about the sport of Pro Football.