Browns fans were awfully nervous going into last Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos. Questions were being tossed around regarding the defense and backups forced to play after a slew of costly injuries. With running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both out, how would the offense look? Would quarterback Case Keenum still have enough in the tank to win a ballgame? Would wide receiver Jarvis Landry return from injury?
Luckily, Case of Coors held firm command of the offense for four quarters and led the Browns to a much-needed victory. Living up to his nickname, Keenum took what the defense gave him and delivered an exemplary performance, going 21-33 for 199 yards, including a touchdown to FB Johnny Stanton. He made the necessary throws on third down in the second half. He scrambled for a fourth down conversion inside the 10 yard line. More importantly, perhaps he showed Baker Mayfield what his proper role is as the Browns signal-caller.
Keenum got the ball out of his hands quickly. It was quite the contrast from Mayfield’s play of recent, which found him meandering outside the pocket, ball in hand. This led to unnecessary sacks and dangerous blows to his already inflamed shoulder. The best version of Baker Mayfield is the one that releases the football with lightning speed. That’s what Keenum did on Thursday.
Does the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. put pressure on Mayfield? Probably. There is a clear pattern of cleaner play when Beckham was out, including the first two games of this season against Kansas City and Houston. However, Keenum wasn’t locked on OBJ against Denver. He threw his way when the play called for it. Checking down to running backs, tight ends and throwing the ball away is how you manage games. The quarterback doesn’t have to be a hero to go to the Super Bowl. Keenum himself was on the doorstep of a Super Bowl appearance back in 2017 with the Vikings.