Case Keenum had never won a division title before suiting up for the Vikings.
Now, since taking over as the starter in Week 2 and starting all but one game since, Keenum has helped the Vikings to an 11-3 record heading into the final two regular-season games of 2017.
Keenum has been noticed by analysts and outlets all over the country, including The Athletic, which tabbed the quarterback as the "*Athletic *Person of the Year" for Minnesota. Jon Krawczynski posted a feature on Monday after doing an in-home interview with Keenum and his wife, Kimberly. Krawczynski compared the quarterback to the grand house he's currently renting that's nestled among even more majestic homes. He wrote:
But coaches, general managers, fans and others have always seemed to look right past the 6-foot-1 Keenum in search of the next big thing — the stronger arm, the taller stature, the higher draft pick. The bigger yard, the granite countertops, the open floor plan.
Krawczynski said that the Vikings choice to sign Keenum "changed the course of its franchise" and "made dreams of playing a home Super Bowl realistic."
Once pigeon-holed after bouncing around the league, Keenum isn't concerned with the outside identifiers.
Despite playing for his fourth team in the last four years, Keenum doesn't buy into the journeyman label. He doesn't really worry about labels at all, for good reason. If he did, he would have quit football a long time ago.
Krawczynski quoted Kimberly, whom he said "chafes a little at the perception that Keenum has somehow pulled a rabbit out of his hat this season."
"I don't want to say I get annoyed with people talking like that, but I do," Kimberly told Krawczynski. "He's always been this great. I think he's just got a great team around him now to help him showcase that."
Murray, McKinnon have stepped up with explosive plays
Coming out of Week 4, the Vikings were 2-2 and had just lost rookie Dalvin Cook – who had impressed early on – to an ACL tear.
But facing adversity once again, Minnesota did not crumble but instead kept rolling.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com pointed out that Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have stepped up in a big way in Cook's absence and have delivered the explosive plays that the rookie delivered in his first four starts. Coller wrote:
Nearly three months [after Cook's injury], the Vikings rank fourth in the NFL in rushes of more than 20 yards with 14, eight of which have come from the running back duo. McKinnon has added seven receptions of more than 20 yards, and Murray picked up his first plus-20 catch on Sunday against the Bengals.
In total, the two backs have one-third of the total plays going for plus-20. It should come as no surprise that Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have 31 total explosive plays.
According to Coller, McKinnon and Murray have recorded 1,540 yards from scrimmage between Week 5 and Week 15, an average of 154 yards per game.
To put that in context, the NFL's leader in yards from scrimmage is Le'Veon Bell, who averages 132 per game. Only six running backs have gained over 100 per contest. The New Orleans Saints duo is the only one averaging more, with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram posting 196 yards per game.
McKinnon's ability to make plays in the passing game has helped quarterback Case Keenum immensely. Of his 50 receptions, 25 have come on throws behind the line of scrimmage for an average of 6.4 yards per throw. He's also caught 76.9 percent of throws in his direction.
Coller emphasized that an athletic offensive line, along with Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur's game plans, have helped the duo to succeed in Minnesota's offense. He added that they also prove "that teams can never have too much depth.
Keenum among Vikings giving back during the holidays
Numerous Vikings are active in the Twin Cities community throughout the season. And while December is certainly a busy month for football, the charitable events also ramp up around the holidays.
Keenum recently was among Vikings giving back. The quarterback posted via Twitter that he and his wife, Kimberly, donated bicycles to Houston-area youth.