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Los Angeles Rams: Does Case Keenum Have A “Tell”?

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NFL: St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

There’s reality, and then there’s “Keenum-ality” when it comes to the 2016 Los Angeles Rams...

Ok, let’s be clear about something from the start: I’m not here to bang the Jared Goff gong just yet. In fact, Case Keenum’s play thus far in the Los Angeles Rams season hasn’t been without worthy remark. Still, there’s no getting around the fact the journeyman quarterback out of the University of Houston is little more than a place holder for Goff.

Keenum is an interesting player. If you go back to his college days at U. of H., there’s a glaring similarity to his current Rams team. Outside of Tampa Bay’s Charles Sims, his Cougar teams didn’t have much high end talent, In fact, the only player Keenum played with who’s actually in the NFL right now - as far as I can tell - is the aforementioned Sims. What does this have to do with anything, you say? Nothing really, but I find it interesting that Keenum so flourished in college with teams replete with mediocrity, - to the point he re-wrote the Houston record books - but it hasn’t translated well in his NFL career. Why?

The “why” of it is for someone smarter than me to discern. Every NFL fan has experienced great college players failing to ignite when they cross the line into the NFL. This past Sunday, Case Keenum didn’t play all that bad. The simple truth is, the two interceptions he threw against the Buffalo Bills were in fact downright ugly: A pick-6, and a sandlot trash/panic throw near the end of the game. Yet, we have to delve a bit deeper into the overall game-plan of the Rams if we’re going to be fair to Keenum...

The Los Angels Rams offense is in trouble. The 3 game win streak of the Rams was more about their defense playing well, than their offense flourishing. After the opening game loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, rumors began to spread that 49er defensive players knew what play was coming their way. As I studied the recent Los Angeles loss to the Bills - and you should do the same - I found something interesting. The word “simple” for the Rams route tree/check down can easily be used here. Base offense scheming, and how Keenum positions himself in the first few seconds after the ball is snapped, gave me a better than 70% chance of predicting where the play was intended to go. The lone caveat here is that I’m being fairly broad in my interpretive gleaning as to play direction. Key factors for me - since I could see exactly where Keenum was looking at the snap of the ball - were to watch the Bill’s safeties and middle linebackers initial movements. They tracked with Keenum, but it seemed they knew when he was trying to do an initial “look-off”? In fact, the way he takes a snap enabled me to predict - with far less accuracy (43%) - if the play was going to be a run or pass... Go look at the game film, and concentrate of the first second or two after the snap. Forget about the rest of the play, and look at Keenum... In fact, if you want the “easy way” to see what I’m talking about, go to the “pick-6” Keenum threw. Watch Keenum’s head, then how the corner back broke on the ball.

When the 49ers’ players said they knew the formations the Rams were in, I think it was a bit misleading. What they knew, by watching Keenum, gave them an edge as to play direction and type. I’d go so far as submit running back Todd Gurley’s lack of success so far this year can easily be tracked to his losing that crucial second or two he needs for a defense to figure out a play before reacting...

Can everything I’m saying be wrong? Yup! I am - after all - just an NFL fan. Yet, this has so intrigued me that I’m going to ask some of you eagle-eyed Rams fans to dive into this and see if I’m right, or way off base...

If I’m wrong, well accept my mea culpa in advance. But if I’m right...?