One of the few perks of playing Thursday Night Football is that the teams get a 10-day break between games.
The Cleveland Browns are in desperate need of that break to get players healthy because they are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8 on Halloween.
Make no mistake, the win against the Broncos was impressive.
But the Broncos are not the Steelers.
There is a bitter divisional rivalry fueled by the Browns’ trouncing of the Steelers in the wildcard playoffs in January.
And the Steelers defense is no joke with TJ Watt leading the charge even when they are not playing up to their potential yet.
The Steelers defense looked dominant in the first halves against the Broncos and Seahawks. Yet they looked helpless against them in the second halves of those games. What's going on and how do the coaches instill a killer instinct? https://t.co/gzWqzjlqLG
— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) October 19, 2021
With that being said, Coach Stefanski will have a decision to make regarding his starting quarterback.
Who should it be?
The final answer is days away so this answer is a preliminary one given after watching Keenum against the Broncos and not knowing how much Mayfield can heal in this span of time.
It should be Case Keenum.
1. Steelers Defense
9 sacks in the preseason ✔️
15 sacks so far in the regular season 💪@BordasLaw will donate $500 to the Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh for every sack recorded by the defense this season.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 23, 2021
The Steelers defense is tough, but Geno Smith, backup quarterback for the Seahawks, had some success and got the Seahawks into overtime before the Steelers pulled out the win.
This is a promising sign for the Browns.
Hopefully, the Browns’ offensive line can play as well as they did against the Broncos.
However, getting rid of the ball quickly and expecting quarterback hits are going to be the hallmarks of this game.
Keenum is more equipped to handle both right now.
2. More Practice Time
Keenum has not played much and had limited first-team reps leading up to the Broncos game.
He is capable of taking the first-team reps and logging a lot of valuable practice time between now and then.
Keenum will be the more prepared of the two quarterbacks for these reasons.
Not A Quarterback Controversy
Case Keenum is clearly the answer for the #Browns at the backup quarterback position.
— Dave @ BIGPLAY (@BIGPLAY_dave) October 22, 2021
This is not a quarterback controversy.
Baker Mayfield is the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in 2021.
When healthy, he provides the best pathway to success and the ability to reach the postseason.
He is not perfect, but neither is Keenum.
Keenum needs the practice time to work on some things.
He was able to get away with some bad passes and decisions against the Broncos.
That will not be the case if he starts against the Steelers.
Browns Are A Better Team With Keenum As The Backup
Having a quality backup quarterback is often overlooked but is truly important in the NFL.
Mayfield has fortunately been healthy.
Now that he is not, it is a relief to know that the Browns have a capable backup in Keenum.
Do I think Keenum is the man that leads this team through a 17 game regular season and a playoff run?
No, mainly because in his 10-year career, he has played a complete regular season just one time.
Like Keenum said, he is built for this.
That means he is built to be a backup.
The Minnesota connection with Coach Stefanski (who served as his quarterbacks coach in Keenum’s best season, 2017) certainly helps the Browns too.
For more reasons than I can list, I am glad I do not have Coach Stefanski’s job.
This will be a difficult decision coming up for him late next week.