- The Minnesota Vikings signed Case Keenum to backup Sam Bradford, and eventually, Teddy Bridgewater.
- Keenum has instead started seven games because of injuries and has played well while leading the team to a 5-2 record in those games.
- With Bridgewater healthy, there is a debate about whether he should play over Keenum, but Keenum’s performance is making it hard to bench him.
The Minnesota Vikings are on a six-game winning streak and sitting in a tie for second in the NFC at 8-2.
While the Vikings remain one the stingiest defensive teams in the NFL, they have received an unexpected boost from backup quarterback Case Keenum, who was thrust into the starting position and has shown no sings of handing it back.
Keenum signed a one-year deal with the Vikings this offseason after two mediocre seasons with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. Keenum figured to play backup to Sam Bradford and maybe even backup to fourth-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was on the mend from a knee injury.
When Bradford got hurt after Week 1, Keenum was put into the starting lineup and played unremarkably. The Vikings went 1-2 while he threw three touchdowns and no interceptions. Bradford returned prematurely in Week 5, got yanked from the lineup while clearly still hurt, and Keenum took over again.
Since then, Keenum has been on fire, and the Vikings haven’t lost. In six games, Keenum has thrown for an average of 259 yards per game, completed 66% of his passes with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. None of those numbers are mind-boggling stats, but Keenum has been effective and the Vikings have survived injuries on both sides of the ball.
In fact, Keenum has been effective enough that the Vikings have delayed the return of Bridgewater, who is now healthy enough to play. Bridgewater looked like the future of the team before his injury, and presumably, the team would like to see how he looks after a nearly two-year absence. But even Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the team can’t just pull Keenum for no reason.
“It’s going to be hard to yank him out of there right now,” Zimmer said of Keenym. “He’s playing good.
“I still have really high hopes for Teddy. You know a lot of things happen throughout the course of this season, so we’ll just see how it goes.”
With Bridgewater breathing down his neck, Keenum has only elevated his play against solid competition. He out-dueled Kirk Cousins in Washington, throwing a career-high four touchdowns to lead Minnesota to the win, and in Week 11, he beat his successor with the Rams, 2016 No. 1 pick Jared Goff.
He showed a nice touch in finding tight end Kyle Rudolph:
And his lone passing touchdown came on a big play from breakout receiver Adam Thielen:
Still, Keenum seems like a multi-interception day away from losing his job. With an elite defence and a run game that’s been buoyed by Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, the Vikings rightfully have deep playoff aspirations. Between Bridgewater and Keenum, the team wants to know who can better lead them deep.
The debate is going to continue as long as both are healthy, but at the moment, it’s difficult to take a quarterback leading the team to wins out of the game in Keenum.
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