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Two x-factors no one is talking about for Saints – Vikings

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Pressuring Case Keenum

NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Cameron Jordan
NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Cameron Jordan /

Facing an inexperienced quarterback such as Case Keenum, one should expect opposing teams to apply great pass rush during games. More pressure usually yields more mistakes by the quarterback due to less time for passes to develop. Sacks, hurries, batted passes, all go up, usually, when a quarterback is pressured correctly.

Teams have done that countless times against the Vikings and Keenum throughout the regular season. I expect the Saints should do the same, as their talented pass rush and secondary should be able to shine. However, the success rate of getting Keenum down is not as high as many would expect.

According to Next Gen stats at NFL.com, Case Keenum ranks ninth in the NFL, among all quarterbacks who have played this season, in time to throw. This, of course, measures the amount of seconds, on average, each quarterback takes from the time the ball is snapped to throw the ball. Sacks are excluded from this stat.

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Deshaun Watson finished first in 2017 with 3.1 seconds. Keenum averaged 2.78 seconds. Drew Brees ranked 33rd out of 41 total quarterbacks at 2.58 seconds per throw. 0.2 seconds better might not seem like a whole lot, but it is in the NFL world. Keenum has found a way to get the ball out of his hands quickly for most of this season.

The Vikings also protect the pocket very well. They rank tied for seventh in the league in sacks given up, with just 27 on the season. Luckily, the Saints rank better. They’re second with just 20 sacks given up all year. Credit Minnesota’s offensive line for protecting Keenum so well.

This is why it’s risky for New Orleans to blitz often. Keenum can get the ball out quickly, and the protection has improved over the season. Blitzing also leaves the Vikings’ very talented receiving corps in one-on-one coverage.

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