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Am I becoming a provocateur or what? The Minnesota Vikings quarterback is not the favorite, but with two games remaining, he’s certainly in the running for the big award.

Minnesota did what the Green Bay Packers were unable to do this year: bring in a relief quarterback who quickly started racking up wins – Keenum has led the Vikings to 10 wins, while losing only three games.

What did the Vikes do right that the Packers did wrong?

Keenum was a journeyman at best at the start of the season. You might even label him a “flunky” based on his previous four years in the league. As a part-time QB with three other teams prior to going to Minnesota, he never had a passer rating in the 90s. His win-lose mark was 9-15. His TD-interception ratio was 44-27.

The Texans didn’t want to keep him, twice. The Rams picked him up and eventually waived him. A year later they invested a seventh-round draft choice to get him back. The Rams even started him in 2016 until Jared Goff was felt to be ready to step in.

The Vikings picked Keenum up in March, as insurance for Sam Bradford. His $2 million contract is for one year. Keenum will be making mucho dinero for some team in 2018.

Sam Bradford started off 2017 with a big win over the Saints — for which he was named offensive player of the week. But he succumbed to continuing knee problems, an aftermath of two ACL surgeries, and he was finally placed on IR in early November.

Keenum started the Vikings’ second game of the year, inauspiciously losing to the Steelers, 26-9. But he then rapidly improved, winning the next nine out of 10 games, and sealing the NFC North championship.

Keenum is probably the hottest quarterback in the league at the moment. His passer rating average over the last six games is 112.4. The league leader is Alex Smith at 105.4.

Keenum vs. Hundley

There are a bunch of similarities, and differences, between these two NFC North backup QBs who were thrust into starting roles this year.

Both had great college careers, but Hundley excelled at UCLA, whereas Keenum was a six-year man at Houston, in Conference USA. He red-shirted in 2006, and missed much of the 2010 season due to an ACL tear, finishing his college career by being named C-USA MVP in 2011.

Hundley was the more coveted coming out of college, being drafted by Green Bay in the fifth round in 2015. Keenum went undrafted in 2012.

At 6’3” and 226 pounds, Hundley has better size than Keenum, who is 6’1” and weighs 215 pounds.

In his four previous years, Keenum started 24 games in the NFL. Hundley now has started seven NFL games – all this year.

Hundley is only 24; Keenum will turn 30 in February.

Keenum, though not previously known for his running ability, has run 33 times for 162 yards in 2017, a 4.9 yard average. Hundley likes to run — in essentially eight games he’s rushed 28 times for 207 yards, a 7.4 average. He’s had seven rushes in each of his last two games.

Here’s a noteworthy stat: in almost eight games, Hundley got sacked 24 times; in 13 games, Keenum has only been sacked 17 times.

On the year Keenum has a passer rating of 98.9, eighth best in the league. After a horrendous start, Hundley has his rating up to 78.0. Keenum is also second in completion percentage, and he’s only thrown seven picks.

Despite some differences – mainly Keenum’s prior NFL experience – I would say that the two quarterbacks’ abilities and potential are fairly commensurate. Keenum has beyond dispute proven he’s a starting-quality NFL signal caller. I do think Hundley has the potential to also be a winning quarterback in this league, though not a top-tier one.

At any rate, Minnesota is going on, and Green Bay is going home. That’s because Minnesota’s coaches got their backup quickly up to speed, and Green Bay’s staff did not.

I’m not knowledgeable enough about Case Keenum’s season to try to explain his sudden rise in competence. All I can say for now is the Packers were slow to get Hundley game-ready – whether through poor game planning, poor play calling, poor training/practice sessions, or poor coaching, generally.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, along with the rest of his staff deserve a great deal of credit. No one foresaw Keenum being in the MVP conversation with the likes of Tom Brady, the favorite. With the injuries to Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, and Antonio Brown, Keenum might well be in the top three when the votes are counted.

For this achievement, Mike Zimmer should sweep the various upcoming coach of the year awards. The Packers got massively outcoached and out-prepared this year by their rival to the west.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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7 Comments

  1. PF4L December 19, 2017

    “I do think Hundley has the potential to also be a winning quarterback in this league,”

    That was hilarious Rob.

    Casey Kasum is a slightly above average game manager with a very strong defense behind him and some years and games under his belt.. MVP? good luck with that.

    Want to compare back up QB’s?

    How about Jimmy Garoppolo and Hundley.

    Hundley is a 3 year back up with 7 starts under his belt. A 74.5 passer rating with 8 td’s and 9 interceptions and a 5.92 yard average.

    Garoppolo is a 4th year recent back up with 5 starts, and 5 wins. a 101 passer rating with 8 TD’s and 2 interceptions and a 8.2 yard average.

    It has been noted that Hundleys poor performances could be blamed and have been, on not having timing with the starters.

    But Garoppolo joins a new (one win) team, starts after 2 weeks and wins 3 games. No excuses needed.

    Now….i understand that Hundley thinks he’s a starting QB, thinks he should get a high draft pick in a trade, and even….wants an explanation from the team that trades for him why they didnt draft him.

    You think Hundley can be a winning QB? I’d be impressed to watch him make a second read. Hundleys trade value right now is a Big Mac and a medium fry. Less than that come Saturday night.

  2. KILLER December 19, 2017

    Piffle does make a better comparison there with Hundley v. Garoppolo.

    Piffle also makes a few gaffes. (of course)

    Keenum is far more than a slightly above average game manager. He averages 7.5 per pass v. Rodgers 7.0 per attempt as a for instance. If that statement about Keenum were true then one would have to conclude that Aaron Rodgers is a slightly below average game manager. You can go ahead and conclude that (but you’d be wrong) or you can give Keenum the respect he deserves. {I think the Vikings are third in the NFL in successful pass plays over 20 yards}

    Rob wrote a good and fair article, which I respect. Just a little added info on Keenum — he holds the following NCAA records:
    *Most career passing yards
    *Most career TDs
    *Most career completions
    *Most career 300+ yard games
    *Most games with 300+ yards passing in a single season
    *Most seasons passing 5000+ yards
    *Most career total yards (all positions included, not just QB)
    *Most career total TDs (all positions included, not just QB)

    Keenum is special, just not super athletic. He has nimble feet, great pocket awareness, fantastic anticipation, and off the charts leadership.

    The Vikings defense is not “very strong”. It is #2 in yards allowed, just 283.9 per game, tied for #2 in yards per play, #1 in 3rd down conversions allowed, and #2 in points per game (just 16.9!). That is not “very strong”. 9th or 10th would be “very strong”. That is DOMINANT.

    But I agree with Piffle than Keenum has between 0% and 0.0% chance of being league MVP. MVP has some to do with rep which Keenum has basically zero of. To overcome that you need to be overwhelming statistically dominant. He has been great but not MVP great.

  3. PF4L December 19, 2017

    What lonely boy is trying to say is that an undrafted free agent NFL QB on his 4th team, is better than Ponder, Bridgewater, and Bradford.

    Casey Kasum is being paid 2 million a year, vs the 10’s of millions paid to the other 3 failure QB’s that the queens pissed away 3 first round draft picks on.

    Enjoy hanging that pretty purple ribbon you won , courtesy of Aaron Rodgers clavicle.

    1. KILLER December 20, 2017

      You make a good point that Keenum, financially, has been an incredible deal for us.

      Keenum is clearly better now than Ponder ever was on his best day. Bridgewater’s ceiling is still unknown due to youth and severe injury. Bradford is actually a better pure QB than Keenum with a stronger arm and uncanny accuracy. It is just health holding him back. Really, a healthy Bradford is actually better than a healthy Keenum on pure pass plays where the pass gets out. But Bradford is much more likely to take a sack or get injured and cannot scramble for yards.

      When Trader Rick calls me for advice I will advise him to resign Keenum as priority and starter and then try to get Bradford or Bridgewater on a lesser contract. The back up QB is arguably the second most important player on the team — you could justifiably argue the LT or a franchise RB if you have one — so they are worth a ton of money, even ten million a year for one who is excellent.

      We certainly have enjoyed hanging the pretty purple ribbon and look to do so again next year and thereafter. It is pretty clear we would have won that first Vikings – Packer game even if Rodgers stayed in. Our other games would have still played out the same so we would be 11-3 right now just as we are. The Packers after the Vikings loss were 4-2. Hundley played perfect vs. the Steelers and the Packers still lost so, even with Rodgers, that would have been a loss. Panthers game a loss obviously even with Rodgers — because he was there. I think the Ravens also would have won and maybe the Lions as well. Oh, and the Saints! The Saints are clearly a better team than the Packers WITH Rodgers. Best case the Packers would have been, right now, a game and a half behind the Vikings. But, more likely, after 4-2, another 4 losses even with Rodgers, and so, more likely, with Rodgers all season you guys would be about 8-6 right now.

      Keep in mind the Packers were 10-6 last year WITH Aaron Rodgers ALL 16 games. And this year the defense seems to be even worse and the Packers no longer have Jared Cook at TE and T.J. Lang at guard and Jordy Nelson is clearly depleted.

      In short, the Vikings did not win the division due to Rodgers’ clavicle. I know you will fondly enjoy your one-directional asterisk but if you allow a glimmer of logic in then the asterisk will melt like the little snow flake it is.

      1. PF4L December 20, 2017

        Ok..lol…i confess, i read down to “….a healthy Bradford.”

        That’s sweet….now, for a free of charge PF4L reality check….Bradford was a 17 game rental for only…….36 million. Yea, you read that right, over 2 million a game.

        Now, as if that wasn’t expensive enough, he also cost a #1 pick.

        OUCH!!

        1. KILLER December 21, 2017

          Hey, by QB rating Bradford is the #1 QB in the NFL this season!

          The money is of no concern. It had to spent on something. Unlike the Packers organization we aren’t trying to buy up the whole town we inhabit in shady real estate deals enriching the already rich. We did not need to save money for that!

          + the Vikings knew they owed it to their world’s greatest fans to try their best and give it the best chance. No one can predict injury. It is always a risk. But they gave it our best chance and I admire them for it. What did the Packers do hen they lost Rodgers? Sat on their asses and lost games is what.

          Vikings have the 6th most salary cap space next year! Woooohoooo! Resign Keenum and Bradford or Bridgewater, maybe pick up a Sheldon Richardson and a premier guard or so. Maybe a safety.

          1. PF4L December 22, 2017

            You aren’t resigning Bradford you fucking Gomer. And why would you sign Bridgewater for starter money? Think!….C’mon man!!

            Why not just spend another 1st round pick on QB? The queens hand them out like Halloween candy every couple of years for a QB…lmao. What’s wrong adding another failed 1st round QB to the list?