Case Keenum is underperforming but Broncos coaches aren’t helping

Case Keenum near the end of the New York Jets game. Credit: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports.
Case Keenum near the end of the New York Jets game. Credit: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports.

Case Keenum isn’t performing as well as the Denver Broncos had hoped, which is certainly hurting the offense.

Through five games, he has matched his last season’s total with seven interceptions thrown. And his 78.1 passer rating is eighth-worst in the league for quarterbacks with 25-plus pass attempts.

But, Broncos coaches — specifically Bill Musgrave, who calls the plays — aren’t paying attention to Keenum’s biggest strength, which is throwing after a play-action:

Either the Broncos offensive coaches haven’t seen these numbers, or they simply don’t want to use play-action passes in the offense, with only 16 percent of play calls being fifth-lowest in the NFL.

And that’s not the only baffling mistake they’re making.

When it comes to play-calling, Musgrave and Co. called 51 passes compared to only 17 runs against the New York Jets. Yes, Denver was behind for much of the contest, meaning they needed to pass it more, but that tilt is unacceptable. Last week, in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Musgrave’s offense didn’t hand the ball off to Royce Freeman — who was nearly unstoppable — when they needed to kill clock and preserve the lead.

Think of it this way; the Broncos have one of the deadliest running back duos with Phillip Lindsay and Freeman. Denver could do themselves a favor by simply handing the ball off more, and trying to come to balance.

Then, by running well, it would bring more defenders down inside the box, which is the perfect time to utilize the play-action pass. Keenum would then likely find more receivers running in the open field, he’d have an extra blocker in the running back he faked to, and the offense would have an opportunity to flourish.

The Broncos offense is currently No. 27 in the NFL when it comes to scoring, a sad 20 points per game. Football’s a complicated game, but the best coordinators adapt their schemes to best fit their personnel.

If Musgrave wants to fix Denver’s offense, he only has to follow a few steps; hand it off more, and then call more play-action passes when he wants to throw.

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