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Bleacher Report – Vikings

If needed, can Case Keenum beat the Pittsburgh Steelers?

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings won their only game that Sam Bradford didn’t start last season when Shaun Hill (and the Vikings’ defense) beat the Tennessee Titans.

The chances of the Vikings needing Case Keenum to follow in Hill’s footsteps went up on Saturday with a report that Minnesota will activate practice squad QB Kyle Sloter. Bradford has been battling pain and swelling in his knee, according to ESPN.

Keenum has a good deal of experience, having started 24 games over the last four seasons. He beat out No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff for the Los Angeles Rams’ starting job last season, but the Rams turned to Goff after going 4-5 with Keenum under center.

The former Houston University star has thrown 24 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, averaged 6.7 Yards Per Attempt and posted a 78.4 rating for his career.

With good defenses with the Texans and Rams, Keenum was able to win nine of his last 16 games. His W-L record might suggest the Vikings should feel confident in starting Keenum, but wins aren’t generally a very good measure of how a QB performed.

For example, it 2016, Keenum beat the Jets 9-6 while throwing for 165 yards. Keenum also lost a game 31-28 to the Lions in which he threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns.

One way we can measure the Vikings’ chances with Keenum under center is by looking at his game-by-game QBR ratings.

QBR is a 1-100 rating system that takes game situations into account. So a touchdown in the final minute to win would be worth a touchdown when down by 20 points. There isn’t a quarterback stat available that perfectly indicates how a QB actually played, but QBR tells us whether a quarterback gave his team a chance to win with his performance.

So, here is the QBR distribution of Keenum’s last 16 starts:

0-20: 2

20-50: 9

50-70: 3

70-100: 2

Keenum has only had two of his last 16 games that were so bad that his team didn’t have any chance to win. And twice, he was simply terrific. But the majority of Keenum performances have required excellent defensive performances and/or running games in order to win.

Pro Football Focus ratings have scored Keenum as a below average starter for most of his career, but he hasn’t been a disaster under center:

As far as Keenum’s style, one thing sticks out about his game that is different from many backups: He has good numbers when throwing intermediate passes, but not great on short throws.

When Keenum’s throws traveled between 11-20 yards last season, he completed 30-of-58 for 10.4 Yards Per Attempt and a 95.5 rating. But tosses between 1-10 yards through the air resulted in a 4.9 YPA and 64.5 rating.

In the preseason, Vikings fans saw Keenum have some success moving the ball down the field, especially in the preseason opener against Buffalo when Minnesota’s backup completed 11-for-16 for 121 yards, including a 38-yard throw on the run to Stacy Coley.

Another thing that stands out in Keenum’s numbers is how poorly he’s performed when trailing. Last year when behind, Keenum averaged just 6.3 YPA and posted a 68.0 rating. Not that falling behind to Pittsburgh would ever be a good idea, but Keenum’s limitations in arm strength and accuracy would make it very difficult to overcome a deficit to the Steelers.

If the Vikings can keep the game close, setting up Keenum to throw with strong running from Dalvin Cook could give the Vikings’ offense a shot. In sets with two tight ends, Keenum had a 100.3 rating last year.

Pittsburgh doesn’t offer a good matchup for Keenum because they love to send rushers from all over the field. Last year against the blitz, the former Texan and Ram had a 6.0 YPA and 76.0 rating, according to ESPN splits.

The bottom line on Keenum is this: Any analysis of a backup QB is going to find that the team has a lower chance to win with the No. 2 under center, but Keenum doesn’t completely tank the Vikings’ chances against the Steelers.

The post If needed, can Case Keenum beat the Pittsburgh Steelers? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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