On the Vikings Quarterback Situation: Case Closed
Case Keenum is the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback, and he has earned it. Through ten games, the Vikings are 8-2. Considering, this team lost their starting quarterback (again), and the NFL’s leading rusher (again), this is nothing short of incredible, yet all too predictable. Possessing one of the NFL’s most talented defenses to go with a myriad of offensive weapons, this team came into the season expecting to contend for a home super bowl appearance. And to this point, they are still in that conversation. This would not be possible without a quarterback.
Keenum, undrafted out of Houston in 2012, was best known for being the NCAA’s leading career passer. He was considered too small for his playstyle by many scouts, and oft-regarded as a product of the high-octane offense of the Cougars. But the talent was there, and 2017 is the first opportunity he has had to put it on full display. After stints with the Houston Texans and the Jeff Fisher led Rams, the 29-year-old has found a home. With a total QBR of 74.0, Case Keenum has statistically outperformed any quarterback in the NFL outside of Deshaun Watson. Sir Tom Brady; check. Mini-monster Drew Brees; check. Ginger Jesus Carson Wentz; You bet. Case has kept pace with all of them.
The Favorite (Returning) Son
Now, the journeyman-turned-star faces his toughest quarterback match up to date. And he faces it on the practice field every day. Teddy Bridgewater is back. The 25-year-old has returned to practice after a 14-month hiatus, following a non-contact ACL tear and knee dislocation. Bridgewater was drafted with the final pick of the first round in the 2014 NFL draft and almost immediately became a fan favorite, after starting 12 games in his rookie season. The following year, Teddy-two-gloves produced a season that could be described as uninspiring on first look. However, Vikings fans cringe at the memories of that receiving core. One led by the likes of Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace (all bow for Lord Thielen and Sir Diggs). Throw in being the 6th most sacked team in the league, and we can easily observe that we likely hadn’t seen all that Bridgewater had to offer.
Mike Zimmer now has a choice. Does he stick with the one-time journeyman who has garnered a 6-2 record en route to a hold on the NFC North? Does the favorite son return to the field, barely a year after nearly losing his leg (supposedly)? First off, I want to be very clear; I’m a HUGE Teddy Bridgewater fan. I had completely bought into him as a player, prior to the injury, and still have hope that he will bounce back. His blend of mobility, adequate arm strength, and accuracy out to the middle range throws gives him all the tools he needs. His intangibles and leadership complete the package. But now isn’t the time. Case Keenum has been a career-journeyman, but let’s be fair; he’s never had a real shot. Between the dumpster fire that was the 2013 Texans and…well…Jeff Fisher, he has never had the platform to show off his decision-making, mobility, arm talent, and “big balls” (thanks Mr. Zimmer).
Mike Zimmer said today that Case Keenum has “big balls” and that he isn’t afraid to to “pull the trigger.”
— Last Word On Vikings (@LWOS_Vikings) November 21, 2017
For now, Case Keenum is playing like you would expect the NCAA’s all-time leading passer to play. Because of that, at least in part, we are winning and even in strong position for a home playoff game and first round bye. Like Everson Griffen said, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Between having to mentally come back from a terrifying injury and getting his footing back on the field, Teddy Bridgewater is a giant risk, even an enigma. So role with the hot hand. Play the NFL’s reigning total QBR king. Let him get comfortable until he loses the job, and until your franchise quarterback has had some time.
But just in CASE things don’t work out, I did have one free agent name in mind: