A Tale of Two QBs: At 7-2, Vikings Forced to Make Decision

Mitch Linsley | November 14th, 2017 |

What a peculiar position Vikings fans are findings themselves in. 7-2, leading the division, yet your team is clouded with as much uncertainty as any team in the NFL.

We play the Rams on Sunday, another 7-2 team. Speaking of which, who thought this would be a matchup of 7-2 teams back in August? What a year for the NFL. Anyways, the Vikes are playing great in every aspect of the game. I seriously haven’t seen a team mesh like this since 2009. The position groups our all contributing to wins, even the running back committee whose future productivity was VERY in question when Dalvin Cook went down week 4. Our kicker isn’t missing field goals, our defense is top 3 in the league, we scored on ALL FIVE red zone trips against the Skins who just shut down the Seahawks in Seattle, and we have for the first time in nearly a decade an effective passing offense.

So why do we have a quarterback controversy?

Case Keenum threw 3 touchdowns in 1 quarter last Sunday, you can just call him The Inspector, man because if you need a touchdown, he’s on the case (Jon Gruden voice).

The last Vikings quarterback who did that was Favre in ‘09. That team went 12-4 and was on the brink of the fucking Super Bowl until the Saints decided to put a bounty on Favre and crush all my dreams #NeverForget. Back to my point; Keenum hasn’t been a star all season, he stunk in his first game against the Steelers, we only scored 7 points in our loss to the Lions and he had very questionable stretches against the ravens and Browns. What The Inspector HAS done well is avoid making costly mistakes while making the throws he needs to in order to win games, albeit against some weak defenses. He’s taken just 5 sacks, the least in the NFL, which is incredible considering Bradford’s sack rate last season. He’s thrown just five picks which is nothing compared to the Ponder years but 11 touchdowns isn’t all that impressive. If Teddy was on that track I think fans would be more than satisfied.

In my opinion, Case is an athletically gifted game-manager who every now and then will show some flashes of stardom and win you a game. Until he beats a good team in a big spot, which he could have the chance to do these next two weeks against LA and Detroit, I’m not going to trust him with the season on the line.

Sunday happened to be one of the days for Keenum, similar to week 3 against Tampa before we knew they were bad. Until 2 bad horrible throws in the direction of DJ Swearinger in the 3rd quarter, Keenum looked like an elite (uh oh there’s that word) quarterback. He had command of the field, he wasn’t backing down from Washington’s corners, he even made a point to pick on Josh Norman twice downfield for 40 yard gains. Keep in mind if Bridgewater got the nod and had a day like that, there would be zero, and I mean ZERO fucking question who the leader of this offense is going forward. Keenum had a QBR of 98.7 last week, the highest in the NFL. He was 2 picks away from a perfect 100. I usually don’t agree with the takes these ESPN writers spew out but Hank Gargiulo and Seth Walder nailed this one on the head:

“Keenum is doing everything in his power to put any quarterback controversy in Minnesota to bed before it even begins. Though Teddy Bridgewater is healthy enough to be active on Sundays, Keenum has been one of the best QBs this season. He ranks third in Total QBR — ahead of Carson Wentz and Tom Brady. Even with two picks against the Redskins, Keenum was particularly brilliant in Week 10, recording the second-highest single-game Total QBR this season after Deshaun Watson’s 98.7 performance in Week 4. Keenum doesn’t have a reputation as being a notably mobile quarterback, but that didn’t stop him from being remarkably productive when outside the pocket. At least for one game, the Vikings quarterback channeled Aaron Rodgers-caliber play, using his legs to put him in position to make high-value throws.”

“Aaron Rodgers caliber play.” There it is, right there in print.

Now, Vikings fans. How many times in the last decade or so have you watched a mediocre QB trot out onto the field, surrounded by great talent, throw skimpy out-routes, take bad sacks, miss open receivers deep and throw picks in big spots? Probably a lot of fucking times.

During how many of those times did you think, “God dammit if we had a fucking quarterback we would beat all these NFC teams and have chance to not only dethrone the Packers in the North but compete for Super Bowl?” Me too, amigo.

Wait no longer… At long last, the Vikings had a game where the quarterback did everything right and looked like the best player on the field. And it was Case fucking Keenum. If you told me prior to the Teddy injury that I would be nervous for the team to start him because of Case Keenum’s outstanding play, well first off I would have been like ‘why the hell is Case Keenum on the team’ but then I would say I’d never believe it in a million years. But here we are. Case won that game in Washington. He didn’t avoid losing it, he won it.

I’m a Teddy guy, have been since we drafted him, through the playoff loss to Seattle and everything up until now. I just don’t see how Zimmer can put him in after the game Keenum just played. Keep in mind the Vikings play the Rams next week, the same team the let go of Keenum last season for rookie Jared Goff.

Case is backup-turned-starter making just 2 million dollars on a one-year deal and now he has a chance to stick it to the guys who sent him off. You think he doesn’t want to absolutely punish them? I think that’s why he played so great in Washington, he refuses to not play against the Rams next Sunday.

Keenum plays with a chip on his shoulder. He knows he could lose it all at any minute so he goes out there and lets it fly. He’s a great competitor and you can tell he has leadership capabilities, he is very respected in the huddle. Remember this guys owns pretty much every passing record in NCAA history, he knows how to handle the spotlight. I think starting Case against St. Louis Los Angeles would throw some kerosene on the fire we saw in Washington.

There’s a twist however. In a Monday presser, Head coach Mike Zimmer said he would announce the starter Wednesday, that he knew who it was gonna be but did not indicate who. “I haven’y told anyone why would I tell you?” Zimmer said as the room grew tense. Now, you’ve been going with Keenum since Bradford got hurt, why not just announce your starter right away? This to me can mean one of two things:

  1. Teddy Bridgewater looks better than ever before, and nobody else knows it, so Zimmer need extra time to announce his starter for Sunday. He must choose between his guy, the rookie that brought them a division title and what should’ve been a playoff win, or the guy who is playing lights out.
  2. Zimmer is delaying his announcement so the Rams have to prepare for two different QBs for as long as possible, which could also be the case regardless.

I really do think Zimm’s gonna go with Case just because he know what he’s getting with him at moment. Keenum is gonna keep this job until he loses it (what a take, you either win or you don’t). But until he truly loses a game for the team, I mean a late pick, bad game etc., they have to keep letting him start. What I’m going to lay out for yoy next is very important so I will make these points very clear. If you’re going to read one segment of this article, read this one:

What the Vikings CANNOT do is flip flop between the two then go into the playoffs with no clear starter. Here’s how you approach this:

  • If Case keeps playing well, ride the hot hand, don’t overthink it.
  • If Case fucks up, throw Teddy in there and give him a chance to secure the job
  • If Teddy is as good or better than he was before, let it ride, he’s your guy.
  • If Teddy sucks, is hurt, etc., put Case back in because you know what you’ve got.
  • It is extremely important that this decision is made before the postseason. And that this decision HAS TO BE the right one.

Oh man, if we had a QB controversy that spun out of control and fucked up this whole season, that would be such typical Vikes. This team is a franchise QB from being elite for the next 5 years so it’s kind of urgent we find our guy sooner than later. Look at Green Bay without Rodgers, we’re a better team in every way and they’re always in the mix.

I’m gonna compare the guys we have now, Case and Teddy, to see what advantages are poses by going forward with either guy. Plus sports guys love diagrams and comparisons, they eat that shit up.

VIKINGS QB CONTROVERSY: BY THE NUMBERS

Teddy Bridgewater Name

Case Keenum

25 <

Age

29

6’3” <

Height

6’1”

215 Weight

215

Louisville College

Houston

Round 1, Pick 32 < Draft Pick

Undrafted

29 <

Games with Vikings

8

17-11

Record > 6-2

87

Total QBR in those games > 92.6

1.3

TDs/game > 1.37

.75

INTs/game > .62
212 Passing yards/game

> 239

.39 Fumbles/game

> 0

1 < Playoff Berths

0

2.76 Sacks/game

> 0.62

675 Days since last start

> 2

0 Years left on contract

0

These number clearly indicate that in his short time with the Vikings, Case Keenum has statistically outplayed Bridgewater in every passing category. However these figures aren’t indicative of the many factors that could point to Teddy being the starter going forward. Here is a list of determinants that suggest Bridgewater could be the better QB.

  1. Teddy’s 28 games were played behind a terrible offensive line. He had to make short, mobile throws and ended up taking a lot of sacks because of shoddy O-line play.
  2. He didn’t have nearly the type of position players this team has now. Case has been given a solid line that gives him time to throw to good receivers. Maybe Teddy could excel under those circumstances.
  3. Teddy played with Adrian Peterson, who heavily restricted the team’s offense and what formations they could use on 1st and 2nd down. Dalvin Cook next season will be a much more QB-friendly back.
  4. Teddy has the unwavering support of the coaching staff, his teammates and the fan base. If Teddy comes back, he’s gonna have the complete support of the franchise, a situation an NFL QB should never take for granted. Everybody is this town wants to win, and they would rather it be with Teddy given the choice.

Both these guys are in contract years so the team will have to make a big choice this offseason. In my opinion, you go with whoever the better guy is, and if they aren’t playing to the standard that the rest of this team has, you trade some picks and move up in the draft for a QB.

This incoming crop of college QBs is stacked with some NFL ready talent. There could be 5 taken in the first two rounds. That being said, if you find a guy you like, you move up and get, say, Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma. Elite arm and pocket presence, has what it takes to win, a lot like Deshaun Watson, expected to be the 3rd or 4th QB taken. So you trade up for Mayfield, but you let him sit 1-3 seasons behind Teddy and marinate because the team is good and Teddy can get them into the playoff and manage games. Aaron Rodgers sat behind Favre, Jimmy Garoppolo sat behind Brady and just got traded for high draft pick, it’s good to let rookie QBs sit a while if the team is winning. As Mayfield improves, you let that QB battle play itself out. If the Mayfield turns out to be aCarson Wentz or Deshaun Watson-like player, you trade Teddy and bolster up the team for a Super Bowl run. 

This is an elite football team with key players locked up for years to come. Given an elite QB, this will be a top 5 team in the NFL for the foreseeable future. It is essential that this team does everything it can to win now while making sure not to pass on the next superstar of the league, who could elevate the franchise for years to come.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s