Every Wednesday, Dan Hanzus combs through the expert findings of the NFL.com Research Department to share nuggets (also known as "nugs") that fascinate, frighten or change him on a fundamental level. This is the Week 14 edition of High-Flying Adventures In The Research Notes.
2017 CASE KEENUM WAS SENT TO EARTH TO HUMBLE THE FOOTBALL COGNOSCENTI
While we're on the subject of things that don't make a ton of sense, Case Keenum should go to the Pro Bowl this season. Well, unless his team is preparing for Super Bowl LII, in which case Keenum should definitely not go to the Pro Bowl. But either way, Keenum has played at a level this season that deserves a notch on his professional bedpost. Let's make Keenum's bed more impressive, people!
Entering the season, Keenum was like Ryan Fitzpatrick with an inferior higher education (no offense, University of Houston). He was a 29-year-old career backup who appeared to have just enough talent to collect paychecks for another five years in an understudy capacity. Always in an understudy capacity.
And that's exactly how this season started -- before Sam Bradford's knee turned on him and Keenum was thrust into the opportunity of a lifetime. How can you not be impressed with how Keenum has raised his game right at the moment that Teddy Bridgewater got healthy and seemed primed to take back his starting job? It's like the competitor in Keenum let out a thunderous, "AW, HELL NO!" and then saw to it that Keenum's production spiked to the point where Bridgewater exited the conversation for good.
Fans and football analysts don't know everything -- they just think they do. Here's Case Keenum, supposed journeyman, standing in front of us all as living proof.
ONE IMAGINES THE RAMS AND SAINTS ARE HAPPY WITH THEIR 2016 DRAFTS
Here's one of those situations where you have to stand back and appreciate when stuff works out. This doesn't happen enough in life. Every year, the fortunes of teams ride on the top of NFL drafts and selections of prospects at the quarterback position. When the Rams and Eagles went all-in on Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively, history told us that one of those teams would probably live to regret the decision. Maybe both. Finding a franchise passer is that much of a spin of the roulette wheel.
As we're seeing now, it appears that both teams hit black jack (pardon my mixing of gambling metaphors, I'm still too intimidated by roulette to actually play the game. Don't call me a coward, Geno.). It goes without saying that the Rams and Eagles are basking in the glory of a best-case scenario here. Nineteen months after the 2016 NFL Draft and their young QBs lead the two highest-scoring offenses in football.
It's also a reminder of how important it is to surround young quarterbacks with the right supporting cast and -- perhaps most important of all -- coaches who understand how to cultivate these incredibly important personnel investments. A year ago, Goff looked like he was on the road to Bustville. Then, Sean McVay arrived and he's a top-12 quarterback at 23 years old. The Eagles knew their quarterback needed more playmakers. Enter Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jay Ajayi. Wentz might just be the league MVP.
Coming up this spring is another draft class that many pundits predict will feature quarterbacks coming off the board at No. 1 and 2 again. Will the teams who ultimately sit in those coveted spots end up in the same enviable position as Los Angeles and Philadelphia in a couple years? Well, that will depend on more than just the players they select.
SOMETIMES GOD HAS THINGS NOT MAKE SENSE TO KEEP US ON OUR TOES
The Dolphins have existed as the dictionary definition of pro football mediocrity for the past 17 seasons. Three playoff appearances, zero postseason victories, six head coaches, a 126-143 record. Joe Philbin was in there somewhere. In other words, the Fins are exactly the type of team you'd expect Tom Brady and the Patriots to whip up on during this era -- no matter where the two teams play.
It hasn't worked out like that. Why not?
Considering the continuous churn of decision-makers for Miami during Brady's career, I'm hesitant to hypothesize that the Dolphins (or Nick Saban) perfected a secret formula to slow down the greatest quarterback of all-time. Could it be the conditions? Is humidity the only thing that can short circuit the machine they call TB12? That feels like a stretch, but it's no less believable than what brought down the aliens in War of the Worlds (microbes, dawg). Ultimately, I'll chalk up Miami's (relative) success to a combination of good luck and better timing. Nothing more, nothing less.
Of course, if Brady throws three picks and the Pats go down in flames Monday, I'll quickly pivot to the most trusted and unimpeachable of all mysterious explanations in sports: A CURSE, BRO.
KEENAN ALLEN IS A HARD START IN ALL FANTASY FORMATS
Go ahead, bench him in your playoff matchup this week. I dare you. I double dog dare ya. I triple dog dare you!
Until next week ...