After signing Case Keenum, many Broncos fans think that their quarterback situation is set for about the next decade. However, General Manager John Elway has only cautiously signed Keenum to a two-year deal, barely more than a test-run. Keenum will be the unchallenged starter for 2018. The journeyman has the starting job but now he needs to play well in order to keep it. That being said, exactly how well does Keenum have to play in 2018 to keep Elway happy? This article will look at some possible scenarios and use those to set the bar for the Keenum.
How Well Does Case Keenum Need To Play In 2018?
First, it would be logical to think of a realistic scenario in which Keenum would be unequivocally safe for 2019 and probably beyond. Imagine that number four has a repeat performance of 2017, throwing 22 touchdowns to seven interceptions and passing for 3500 yards. Elway would clearly want to keep Keenum if this were to happen since he signed him because of those exact statistics in the first place
On the other hand, if Keenum were to fall back to earth this year, the Broncos would probably start actively looking at other options. Before 2017, Keenum had a career stat line of 24 touchdowns to 20 interceptions. It is not entirely crazy to think that Keenum could have a similar performance in 2018. However, if this were to happen, Keenum’s seat would begin to heat up.
Stuck In The Middle?
If the quarterback is clearly safe with a 22-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and obviously in trouble if he were to give a 24-touchdown-to-20-interception performance, then where is the exact safe point? That is to say, where is the point at which Keenum earns job security or loses it? More than other positions, quarterback performances are noticeably judged by their team records. How could those records influence Elway?
What if the ex-Viking were to repeat his performance from a year ago but then implode in the first playoff game of the season? For instance, imagine if Keenum were to finish the season with a three-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio but then threw two pick-sixes in the divisional round after earning a bye, ultimately losing the game. It is likely that Keenum could find himself on an uncomfortably warm seat.
Sure, he was one of the main reasons why they were in the playoffs in the first place but his resume would then show a quarterback who has won only one playoff game (because of a lucky hail mary) and lost the other two in epic fashion.
At this point, many could point out the fact that Keenum has made the playoffs in every season that he has started more than eight games. On the other hand, many could call him a playoff choke-artist.
In a win-now league, teams effectively do not want players that they do not think can help take them to a Super Bowl victory. The Broncos’ Super Bowl window seems to be closer to the end than the beginning and Elway is clearly in a win-now mode. If he doesn’t think he can win now with Keenum then he is likely to look at other options.
Back To The Future
What if the Broncos were to make it to the postseason in spite of Keenum? What if this year’s defense were to repeat their performance of 2015 and drag the team to the playoffs and Keenum channels his inner Joe Flacco and explodes out of nowhere, himself taking the team deep into the playoffs? Keenum could likely be on the “lukewarm” seat and his job be at risk if the right free agent were to appear. However, overall, he should expect to be lining up under center for the Broncos in 2019 if the season were to go this way.
What Does Elway Want?
Obviously, Elway wants a clear upgrade at quarterback. Specifically, he wants a huge upgrade from the ghastly 14-touchdown-to-21-interception ratio that Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler combined for in 2015. More specifically, he wants a big upgrade from the Trevor Siemian-Osweiler-Paxton Lynch revolving door at quarterback from last season, all of which combined for 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions during that season. In the end, Elway would be satisfied if Keenum were to perform slightly better than the 2016 version of Trevor Siemian who threw 18 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.
Why would Elway set the bar there? Trevor Siemian’s performance in 2016 was almost good enough for the Broncos to make the playoffs, finishing with a 9-7 record. If Keenum can play just a little bit better, the Broncos will be good enough to make the playoffs as their defense is still very comparable to that of 2016.
Overall, Elway’s first goal is to make the playoffs. If Keenum can make that happen then he has a great shot to keep his job. If not, turn up the heat.