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Vikings offensive gameplan was the star of Sunday’s win over Bucs

When you think about backup quarterbacks, the first thing that comes to mind is: “Game manager.” But Case Keenum was far from a game manager on Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings’ scheme included a barrage of deep passes. The result: Complete demolition of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense.

Here’s a stat you might not expect: Keenum  went 21-for-52 on passes that qualified as “deep throws” by NFL official play-by-play last season. Keenum’s 40.4% completion percentage on deep throws was higher than that of Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton and Matt Stafford.

So the Vikings allowed Keenum to do what he does well by working the ball down the field.

From the third play of the game, it was clear the Vikings had no intention of dinking and dunking. After back-to-back solid runs by Dalvin Cook, the Vikings looked deep. Keenum’s throw didn’t exactly reach Elway-like velocity, but it dropped out of the sky into the hands of Adam Thielen for a 45-yard gain.

“[Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur] has a good understanding of what we do well,” Thielen said. “He puts us in those situations to do the things we do well. We have a lot of great talent on this offense, so there’s no focus on one guy, he’s able to spread the ball around.”

Stefon Diggs was, as per usual, upgradable. The Vikings essentially put the game on ice by going deep to Diggs on the final drive of the first half, hitting him for a 47-yard strike. Minnesota’s top receiver then rose up over his defender for Keenum’s second touchdown of the game.

Diggs didn’t leave anything to chance in the second half, breaking a 59-yard touchdown off a simple out route to put the VIkings up 28-3.

“To see [Keenum] go out there and make those passes and have confidence in all the receivers, we came out swinging and when your quarterback is bringing that energy, you just try to match it,” Diggs said.

The Vikings clearly knew this about the Bucs: Their secondary was beat up. Brent Grimes, one of the league’s better corners, was out and then Tampa’s other starter Vernon Hargreaves went down. So they could not stop Minnesota’s top-notch receiving duo.

The Bucs also don’t have much for pass rush outside of Gerald McCoy, who was playing Sunday despite an ankle injury. Noah Spence left in the first half and Kwon Alexander was out.

Give Keenum time and he can hurt you. Really.

Against the Steelers, Keenum was often under pressure and went just 6-for-16 with Pittsburgh defenders breathing down his neck. But when given a chance to throw, he was consistently accurate, finishing 25-for-33 with 369 yards and three touchdowns.

Dalvin Cook also played a big role in the offense’s success. He played ground-and-pound, but he was also successful in the passing game – which was one of his strengths at Florida State. He caught three passes for 34 yards in the opening half, including a 16-yard catch that helped set up the Vikings’ first touchdown.

Cook ended the game with 27 runs for 97 yards and 72 yards receiving on five catches.

If the Vikings have to be without Sam Bradford for a long period of time, there should still be concerns tab out how their offense will perform under Keenum, but Pat Shurmur gave plenty of reason on Sunday to believe Minnesota’s offense can make the most out of its situation.

  • Daxquartermain

    Great game by Keenum. No need to rush the return of the hobbled TB now.

    • Brian_pdx

      It would be a miracle if Bridgewater could play this year as an effective starting QB. But for the quick action of the training and medical staff he would have lost his leg. I hope he does come back and play but he may be a career backup like Keenum after that injury. I hope he proves me wrong but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. I like Sloter but the Vikings are going to have to draft a QB high next year. Watch Luke Falk of the Cougars as they play USC Friday night. USC is a way better team but Falk is running the #3 passing attack in the NCAA and is 3rd in history in Pac12 TDs with 103. Game is 7PM Pacific which is why the east coast wankers in the media ignore him. Past their bedtime.

      • linus

        there was a report just last week that Bridgewater would be activated after week six and ready to go by midseason. I agree that those stories need to be taken with many grains of salt, but they’re no less reliable than any opinion you or I may have.

        • Brian_pdx

          Fair point but being activated and playing like a starting NFL QB are very different steps. What are they going to do? Sloter won’t make it back onto the practice squad and letting him go would be crazy and Keenum has to stay put. If Bradford goes to the DL OK. Otherwise it is a waste of a position to activate Bridgewater. Medical experts say 18 months is the recovery time for a dislocated knee in the civilian world but not to play in the NFL and that is 4 1/2 months away if my math is right. Maybe they can put Teddy in a simulated game where they can see game like stress and moves then reevaluate him.

          • Jordan Musser

            Yeah I really don’t know how you can say he is ready. Obviously you have to trust him and the doctors but if he does come back and the knee gives out on national television it could be very difficult for a lot of people to watch

          • Brian_pdx

            I wouldn’t want to see him lose the leg and it was a close thing according to the medical staff. They had to immobilize the leg and somehow keep blood flowing to the lower leg. If this had happened without medical staff right there who knows what would have happened.

          • linus

            There is no consensus among “medical experts” regarding the recovery time for a person with Bridgewater’s injury. Even if there was, Bridgewater is a 24-year-old professional athlete, so what’s “normal” for someone in the civilian world probably doesn’t apply to him.

          • Brian_pdx

            Not what medical expert interviews I saw, including orthopedic surgeons, have said. They were very clear it was 18 months recovery time. But again Teddy is an athlete with team resources we wouldn’t get.

  • linus

    Terrific performance by Keenum, but I gotta say, with Diggs and Thielen playing like this, and Floyd coming off suspension in another week, it might not matter who plays QB.

    • Brian_pdx

      Only as long as the OL blocks. Keenum with no time does not have the quick read and dump off ability of Bradford. Great game for him though. Still like to see Treadwell more involved but apparently another draft bust by the Vikings. Anyone else have some love for the Falcons beating the cheeseheads and Lions on consecutive weeks?

      • Jordan Musser

        Treadwell hasn’t been given his opportunity but when he has played this year he has looked good and he is an excellent blocker. Hard to get FaceTime with Diggs, Theiilen, Cook, Rudolph and soon to be Floyd not to mention Wright

        • Brian_pdx

          Good points. He does block well and maybe it will take another year or two to involve him more. Means we can draft QB and OL as priorities next year.

          • Jordan Musser

            I agree with OL and possibly QB. Hard to know what Sammy, Case and TB will all do after this season. I see at the very least one of them back and most likely two of them. Really interested in Sloter and what his learning curve will be.

          • Brian_pdx

            I think Sloter could be good or else Elway wouldn’t have tried to keep him on the practice squad. Elway knows QBs that is for sure. I just don’t see how either Teddy or Sam could be signed to long term contracts with those knees. I like them both but big chance.

          • Jordan Musser

            Yeah very hard to imagine a PS player turning into a star QB but hey you never know.

      • Matthew Rowe

        Credit goes too Thielen for holding him off. Treadwell could learn a lot from him.

  • styx rogan

    once in a lifetime game by Keenan

    • Gordon Guffey

      Nope ~ He become the first QB to beat the Winston lead Bucs 3 times in a row ~ I’m not saying he is a world beater by any means ~ But he did have another outstanding game vs the Bucs ~


  • Gordon Guffey

    I kind of knew a little about Keenum because my friend is a Rams fan ~ He said give him time and he can win games for you ~ But like most QB’s given little time to throw is not his strong suit ~ Even Bradford had to dink and dunk last year under pressure ~

    No one is saying much how the OL did ~ But based on the stats I’m sure they did just fine ~

    Pat Shurmur should get a lot of credit for today’s win also ~ Last week the Steelers were playing their first home game after the owner had past so you know they were jacked for that game ~ Plus the Vikings seem to think Bradford was going to be able to play up until per game workouts ~ So Keenum had little time to get ready to play ~

    Keenum becomes the first QB to beat the Bucs with Winston as the starter 3 time in a row ~ Yes and good for the Vikings too ~

    I believe the Vikings defense kind of did OK today as well ~ Not to shabby ~

    • Finchy74

      Agreed on Shurmur, Gordon. Lots of creativity and an offense that played to the strengths of the personnel. This is what a modern NFL offense looks like, something we haven’t had in a while.

  • David Prestin

    I wonder what the oline will grade out as for this game. They looked good. Not bad for a new group learning a new zone blocking scheme. Cook looks close to breaking one.

    • Jordan Musser

      Yeah he does. And same for the screen passes we have thrown. We are one juke away from a huge gain. Skol Vikes

  • B. A. Barakas

    I love how people post stuff on here doubting a player and saying they thought the team should have a better option in place, but then act like nothing happened when said player has a career game…oh, wait….that was me posting that I thought Keenum was the wrong choice…happy to be proven wrong…that was fun to watch…

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    • Bodhisafa

      I was right there with you, but honestly nobody saw that coming. NOBODY. I like Keenum’s mobility honestly. I didn’t see much of that last week in Pittsburgh. He looked more more comfortable on Sunday. If he steps up in the pocket and doesn’t feel the phantom rush, his arm talent is just fine. Nice game dude…


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