Case Keenum couldn't remember how many offenses he's needed to learn over his eight-year NFL career, which gives you an indication of how many stops he’s made along his football journey. (Counting St. Louis and Los Angeles, Washington marks his sixth different team and fourth in the last four years).
Understandably, he told reporters Tuesday at OTAs, he’s had a good perspective on changing schemes, terminology and personnel each season, and has a useful analogy for adapting.
“I view new offenses like learning new languages,” Keenum said. “Certain offenses are like English to Chinese. Certain offenses are like Portuguese to Spanish. I would say I’ve been in Spanish before and this is more Portuguese. There’s some carry-over, but some little tweak of the same word might mean something different in a different language. Part of it is trying to forget some of the old stuff and replace it with new stuff.”
When asked if he could call himself a professional at learning new offenses, Keenum responded in the affirmative.
“I think so,” he said. “There’s no Rosetta Stone for the west coast offense though.”
In the next six weeks, Keenum will be embroiled in a quarterback competition, one that’s started at a tepid temperature this past month but will intensify in Richmond. Eventually Colt McCoy will join the group at training camp, but as of now, Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins have had the opportunity to win the starting job on a mostly even playing field.
“It’s not my job to judge how he’s doing,” Keenum said of Haskins. “I judge myself and, like I said, I’m very hard on myself to do good things but I think there’s still a lot of room to improve. I need to make a jump. The next time I go through the installation process, the next time you get these reps in training camp, I need to make a jump. I need to make that next step from stuff that we worked on in the spring and mistakes that I’ve made. I need to fix those and correct them to keep doing the stuff I’ve done well. It’s not my job to judge.”
Keenum said he felt good about the way his spring went. Over several weeks, the quarterback has made the adjustment to Jay Gruden and Kevin O’Connell’s system offering nothing but praise.
“I love this system, I really do,” Keenum said. “I think Jay [Gruden] has done a great job putting it together, and I think Kev [Kevin O’Connell], Cav [Matt Cavanaugh], Tim [Rattay], all those guys, too. I think it’s really well presented and put together really good. I think I can thrive in it. So, I want to push it to the next level. I’m always trying to push it to that next level of playing. I’ve been to that one game from the super bowl so I know what it takes to get there and I know how close it is. I’ve tasted just a bit of what that could be like and I want to get back there.”
Understandably, a lot of excitement surrounds the prospect of Haskins stepping in Week 1 and letting the Redskins see the future become the present.
That’s an option, and something that could get sorted out at training camp. But the Redskins can take their time if they choose. Keenum’s experience and ability to compete at a consistent level in a variety of offenses and with a variety of different targets makes him an attractive asset to have.
Take a look at photos from the fourth day of OTA practices for the 2019 Washington Redskins.
The quarterbacks room will also have Alex Smith, recovering from his broken leg sustained last season, as a helpful voice. “He’s been a great quarterback for a long time and has a great way of thinking about the field. It’s been good to pick his brain a little bit,” Keenum said.
“I try to hold myself to a very high standard all the time,” he added. “I think if I do that every day no matter what, if I’m in the offseason, if I’m throwing in Texas, if I’m here in OTAs or in training camp, preseason game 1, 2, 3, or 4, whatever it may be, even gearing up against Philly, I step up on the line and think the same way every time.”
In the coming weeks, Keenum will take some time with his family, relax and maybe golf. He’ll also return to his throwing program and maintain shape before training camp. And then, of course, he'll continue learning a new language.
“I think applying what we’ve learned here and trying to do a slow review each day,” he said. “I’m gearing up to get ready to go.”