I have seen many versions of this particular sentiment on Eagles Twitter since the Vikings shocked the Saints in the NFC Divisional playoff game yesterday, and it has me a bit concerned.
“All the Eagles have to do is beat Case Keenum at home and they’re in the Super Bowl.”
The thought here is not incorrect. The Eagles definitely can beat Case Keenum and the Vikings next Sunday, even though they will enter the game as home underdogs for a second straight week. But there seems to be a consensus among many in the Eagles universe that Keenum is kind of a pushover, a no-name quarterback who has lucked his way into the title game and cannot come into Philadelphia and beat the Eagles in a cold-weather NFC Championship Game.
Folks, if that is your impression of the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, you’re not going to like this post.
Case Keenum is good now. He may not have been good before, but he’s good now.
People need to erase this picture from their brains.
This is not the same Case Keenum who, coming into this season, had a career QB rating of 78.4, a 9-15 record, a completion percentage of 58.4%, and averaged 6.2 air yards/attempt. This is not the same guy who, in 16 career games, had a 24/20 TD/INT ratio.
This Case Keenum led the Vikings to an 11-3 record in 14 starts this year. He completed 67.6% of his passes, threw for 3,547 yards with 22 TDs and 7 INTs. He averaged 7.6 air yards/attempt, and had a QB rating of 98.3. Only six QBs: Alex Smith (105.4), Drew Brees (103.5), Tom Brady (102.7), Carson Wentz (101.9), Matthew Stafford (99.3) and Jared Goff (98.5) were better.
Since October 9, Keenum has lost one time, a 31-24 defeat to the Panthers in Carolina. He had a QB rating over 100 in 8 of his 14 starts this season, and in his first-ever playoff game on Sunday, with a trip to the NFC Championship Game on the line, he went 25-40 (62.5%) with 318 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a QB rating of 85.2. Not a phenomenal day, but it got the job done.
Keenum has also been pretty solid on the road this season, 6-2 with a 66.4% completion rate, 14 TDs and 5 INTs, good for a 96.8 rating.
But it’s not just the numbers, guys. The eye test tells you Keenum can ball. Check out this toss in yesterday’s game against the Saints.
.@CaseKeenum7 just dropped a DIME. #NOvsMIN #NFLPlayoffs— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2018
: @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/oY6kOpcm8h
And this throw against the Bears a few weeks ago.
RED ZONE @casekeenum7 throws a dart to @stefondiggs for the touchdown. #CHIvsMIN #Skol pic.twitter.com/hv9RdPjHUb— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 31, 2017
Keenum is more mobile than you think, too, and can make something happen when the play breaks down, like he did here against the Packers (in cold weather, by the way).
Nobody's open so @casekeenum7 will run — just kidding! What a play! #skol#MINvsGB pic.twitter.com/y5xYkDBPKC— Breaking News (@newnewspage) December 24, 2017
And this is some Houdini stuff right here, gang.
Case Keenum is doing this again, crazy! play of the week to get away from the sack and passpic.twitter.com/kKQLB7bCOg— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 10, 2017
Finally, here are his five best throws from his Divisional match-up against New Orleands yesterday.
The Minneapolis Miracle.— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2018
And what else?@casekeenum7's Top 5 throws from the Divisional Round! #SKOL #NOvsMIN #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/wLZCX7JeDT
Of course, the final play in that highlight reel was his toss to Stephon Diggs along the sideline that gave them the chance to win the game.
Much like Wentz before he got hurt, Keenum has the ability to keep the chains moving on third down. He converted 45.6% of third downs into first downs this season, the 5th-best percentage in football, and had the 7th-best completion percentage among NFL QBs in “late and close” situations, at 64.4%.
Given the choice between Keenum and Brees, Keenum is certainly the QB you’d want to face in the NFC Championship Game. But let’s get one thing straight about Case Keenum here, folks.
He’s good. Whatever he’s done in the past, as mediocre as he had been, none of it matters now. This isn’t the same quarterback that struggled under Jeff Fisher’s tutelage in St. Louis or with the Houston Texans before that. And who knows if he will ever be this good again.
But even though the Eagles have home field advantage and a defense that should pressure Keenum all game long, don’t sell him short. He’s not a dink-and-dunk, “manage the game” quarterback. He’ll be asked to make some plays for Minnesota, and has shown he can do that.
The Eagles can beat Case Keenum. But it’s not going to be easy.