Last night I got to thinking about Case Keenum. Mike Zimmer himself said, “Is he the guy that played for us, or the guy that played for the Rams?” I think we all qualitatively agree with Zimmer, but Keenum’s base stats don’t necessarily bear that out. Throughout his career, Case throws around his career average of 213 yards per game and 86.0 quarterback rating. His completion percentage (% CMP) and yards per attempt (Y/A) has steadily risen in every season. Those numbers suggested that Case just needed a little development and opportunity. They make you believe the new Case Keenum could be here to stay. I decided to give Case one more check, using rate statistics.
How could I quantify Case’s 2017 leap into greatness? I chose to look at the simpler rate statistics, % CMP and Y/A. In 2017 Keenum finished 2nd with a 67.6% CMP. 10th place for this stat was 64.2%. Keenum’s 7.37 Y/A put him 13th, 10th was 7.58 Y/A. So I thought, a QB who consistently puts up a 65% CMP and 7.5 Y/A is surely a top QB and would be considered great. The only quarterbacks that did so over the course of the season last year were Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Tom Brady and Matt Stafford.
So I looked into it on a game-by-basis, and ended up producing the following chart:
The chart shows how many regular season games in which a quarterback achieved a 65% CMP and 7.5 Y/A over the course of his career. I’d like to start at the right of the chart, which shows that such games are highly correlated with wins. That’s what we want. It gives the data meaning. Since the sample size is not as large as I’d like it to be, I’ll call my takeaways suggestions rather than conclusions:
Suggestion #1: Case looks risky.
Remember this whole study started because of Keenum. It shows Case reached 65/7.5 at an elite rate last year, and the Vikings won every one of those games. In his previous career, however, he’s the worst on the list. Case lacks the consistency we need to be trusted in another scheme.
Suggestion #2: Teddy and Sam were indeed hurt by surroundings.
Overall, this study makes a strong argument for Teddy over Sam, if both are fully healthy. But I’d like to focus on their low win rate in 65/7.5 games. They’re the lowest on this list, so you would really like to see what they do going forward.
Suggestion #3: Kirk is consistent.
The numbers show that Cousins is indeed helped by situation, as many have cited. It also shows he’s incredibly dependable in achieving 65/7.5 play. If you wanted to improve in this specific area, you would choose Kirk second , behind Brees and ahead of Brady.
Suggestion #4: Rookies take time.
While Wentz and Goff both had fantastic years, the study shows they haven’t put up 65/7.5 games consistently yet. The same can be said for Garoppolo’s early career, as six of his seven 65/7.5 games (and all of his wins in such games) occurred in 2017 with the 49ers. Teddy Bridgewater is ahead of both Goff and Wentz in this regard.
So there you have it. Thank you for coming down the rabbit hole with me. I like this study because it focuses on what QBs did when given the chance, even if those opportunities were limited. I hope to expand it to include all quarterbacks, but for now it’s fun to compare the elite (Brees, Brady), the average (Dalton, Flacco), the young (Goff, Wentz), the endlessly debated (Rivers, Manning), the above average (Smith, Stafford) and the hot name (Foles, Garoppolo) quarterbacks.