Player Profile: Case Keenum, a Deeper Look Inside the Numbers
While Redskins fans have been dreaming of a trade for a quarterback, the trade that the Redskins pulled off yesterday was not the trade that they were hoping for, but is it the trade that the Redskins needed? Bruce Allen and company sent their 2020 sixth round pick to the Denver Broncos for their 2020 seventh round pick and quarterback Case Keenum. This will be Keenum’s sixth team since joining the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012. Most recently, John Elway signed Keenum to 36 million dollar contract in the spring of 2018. Twenty-five million of that was fully guaranteed at signing. As part of the trade, the Redskins will pay half of Keenum’s guaranteed salary, amounting to 3.5 million dollars toward the team’s cap number.
In 2017, Keenum led the Vikings to the NFC championship game after going 11-3 as a starter. The general consensus is that this move does not take the Redskins out of the running to draft or trade for another quarterback. Keenum is expected to challenge Colt McCoy for the starting position, barring another move by the team. Exactly what are the Redskins getting with Keenum, a bona fide starting quarterback that can lead the team towards the playoffs or the journeyman filling a spot until another option can be found?
In his career, Keenum has started 54 games and has a record of 26-28. These numbers include the 11-3 record with the Vikings in 2017 and an 0-8 record with the Texans in 2013. Keenum’s Quarterback Rating (ESPN) has ranged from 37-48 except for his outlier year of 2018 in which it was 74.3. The last two seasons have been quite opposite, statistically speaking . In 2017 with the Vikings he posted 3,547 yards to go with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 67.3% of his passes while starting 14 games. Last year with the Broncos Keenum threw for a career high 3,890 yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while completing 62.3% of his passes. With Keenum starting all 16 games, the Broncos went 6-10.
Keenum was asked to carry the Broncos in many ways last year, attempting 586 passes, good for sixth most in the league. Keenum threw the ball over 20 yards 67 times, ranking 12th in the NFL. According to playerprofiler.com, Keenum’s supporting cast ranked 23rd in the league, helping to explain some of his poor numbers.
There are reasons to be hopeful for Keenum when looking at the numbers. Keenum ranked eighth in the league in “money throws”, passes requiring exceptional skill and athleticism or throws made in clutch moments. Keenum’s receivers ranked 31st in the NFL in separation and second in the league in dropped passes. It becomes clear that Keenum suffered, at least in part, due to his supporting class.
On the other hand, Keenum created some of his own problems. His number of “danger plays” ranked as the third worst in the NFL, meaning that Keenum often took unnecessary risk that could have resulted in turnovers. Keenum struggled in the red zone, completing only 51% of his passes. His play action completion percentage was 62% ranking 27th in the NFL. This could be particularly problematic for Coach Jay Gruden as the Redskins’ offense is at its best when it is using the run game to set up play action.
Keenum is a smart quarterback that can throw the deep ball with some accuracy. He can become a threat with his legs and was known as a dual threat quarterback coming out of college. On the other hand, he has a lack of velocity on his passes and seems to the lacking the “it” factor that great quarterbacks have.
Only time will tell how successful this trade turns out to be for the Redskins. It will mostly depend on what the Redskins are able to do to build the team around Keenum and give him a chance to play to his strengths, if he is named the starter for week one.