Case Keenum is benefitting from getting all the work with the Broncos first team, but the lack of competition in camp may hinder his development.
The Denver Broncos coaching staff is understandably relieved not to be embroiled in a quarterback controversy at the moment. Case Keenum is unquestionably the team’s starter. The fact that he’s so far ahead of the backups isn’t all good news for the Broncos, though.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is spinning Keenum’s dominance over his position group as a positive. He correctly points out that Keenum needs a lot of reps to understand his new offense. He goes on to say that soaking up all of the first team reps is “paying dividends” for the free agent signing.
That’s one way of looking at things. The flip side to that point of view is that neither Paxton Lynch nor Chad Kelly is getting any real work with the first team. That’s going to make it very difficult for either player to put pressure on Keenum’s starting position. That obviously has negative ramifications for Lynch and Kelly. If Keenum goes down with an injury, the Broncos backups will really struggle to replace him.
The bigger issue, though, is how it might negatively impact Keenum. He’s not a quarterback who is used to sailing through preseason as an established starter. Instead, he’s been forced to scratch and claw for every rep during his NFL career. It’s fair to question how he’ll react to going through a preseason in such a comfortable position.
It’s at least possible that he’ll take his foot off the gas. The Broncos have rewarded his one stellar season as the Vikings starter with life-changing money. Keenum wouldn’t be the first player to take his eye off the prize after landing a big deal in free agency.
The right course of action for the Broncos would be to put a little more pressure on Keenum. They can’t convince anyone he isn’t going to be the starter Week 1, but they should be pushing him every day in practice. If they aren’t diligent about doing so, Keenum may revert back to the average quarterback he was prior to last season’s breakout campaign. That could crush the Broncos offense before it ever picks up any steam.