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The only certainty at quarterback for the Vikings is Case Keenum

Before the 2017 regular season, one of the biggest questions facing the Minnesota Vikings was whether Sam Bradford would be the long-term quarterback. Now Bradford’s status is in question every week.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday about Bradford’s status, trainer Eric Sugarman said he would not speculate on whether the Vikings’ starter would be back under center this week against the Green Bay Packers.

Teddy Bridgewater’s status is also up in the air. Sugarman said that Bridgewater is set to meet with his surgeon on Monday. He can be taken off the Physically Unable to Perform list on October 18, but there is no timetable for a potential return from a severe knee injury suffered prior to last season.

That leaves the Vikings with Case Keenum as their sure option at quarterback.

On Monday night, Keenum delivered a strong performance off the bench, leading the Vikings to a 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears.

“He showed he’s had some good stuff on tape,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “I think the team believes when he comes in there he’s going to go in there and play well and that’s the most important thing.”

In four appearances by Keenum, the Vikings have won two games and he’s posted a 64.5% completion percentage, 7.4 yards per attempt, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The Vikings’ backup quarterback has won games in different ways. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he completed eight passes of more than 15 yards. On Monday night, the Bears took away Keenum’s deep shots, so he dinked and dunked his way to 17-for-21 passing for 140 yards. The only completion over 15 yards was a 19-yard toss to Michael Floyd.

“Coverage dictates that a lot of times,” Zimmer said. “They were playing a different coverage than Tampa Bay did. I know everybody gets caught up in the shots and those things, but it’s about taking what the defense gives you and try to take advantage of it. It was a different game, a different defense, just kind of how it works out sometimes.”

During his time with the Houston Texans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Keenum was generally more successful throwing deep passes than dump offs and screens. Between 2014 and 2016, Keenum averaged just 5.6 yards on throws classified by NFL play-by-play as “short.” That number put him on par with Mike Glennon and Matt Cassel. The top QBs like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Dak Prescott averaged close to 7.0 YPA (Teddy Bridgewater was at 6.6 YPA on short throws).

On deep passes, Keenum didn’t rank toward the top of the league, but did posted a 37.6% completion percentage on downfield passes, which was similar to Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill and Cam Newton. Matt Ryan was the league’s best at 51.7%.

This year, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have helped bump Keenum’s completion percentage up to 50% on deep throws this year (15-for-30).

It’s possible that the strength of the Vikings’ offense could help the 29-year-old QB succeed more on short throws than in the past. The mobility of the Minnesota offensive line has already paid dividends for Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon in the passing game. Between the two, they’ve gained 181 yards on 25 receptions (7.2 yards per catch).

The bottom line is that the Vikings showed against the Bears that they can adapt on offense more than you might expect with a backup quarterback. That gives them a chance to succeed while they wait for either Bradford or Bridgewater. And while the odds will be lower, Keenum still gives the Vikings some shot to make the postseason if neither comes back.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio suggested on Tuesday that the Vikings lock Keenum up as a long-term backup QB as soon as possible because other teams might be willing to pay him as a starter next offseason.

He’ll have more to prove before then, but at least the Vikings know what they have in one quarterback.

Could the Vikings make the playoffs with Case Keenum starting?

  • linus

    Nobody’s gonna give Keenum starter money next year, but he might be one of the highest-paid back-ups.

    • xdm40sw

      With the uncertainty at the position next year, giving him top backup/low starter money now might make some sense-just in case he needs to be the bridge QB next year to Sloter/rookie if Sam and Teddy both end up as one legged QB’s.

      • cka2nd

        Exactly. Think Brian Hoyer, but for three years maybe, not two, and with less guaranteed cash, not Mike Glennon or Brock Osweiler.

  • Clark Stewart

    I would like to know how Sloter is looking like at practice. He is one play away from going into a game.

    • Jordan Musser

      I was thinking same thing. I also just got burned on an article last week that stated Teddy and Sammy would be back soon and that Keenum would be odd man out. Boy what a difference a few days can make. Sammy looks like he is about to go on IR and with Teddy still a few weeks away this team is all on Case Keenum. And honestly at the present time it looks like it is his job to lose. If he and the Vikes beat GB this weekend he will have furthered himself from the competition or the lack there of. Let the Keenum show continue and I am actually starting to like his attitude and predrive high knees on his way out to the huddle.

      • Bob T.

        I don’t remember where I read it, but Diggs said, Case brings so much excitement to the huddle. I like hearing that. Bet the team is feeding off that type of leadership. Gotta like that.

        • Jordan Musser

          It shows

    • Cornbread

      That’s an easy answer: He looks like a rookie 3rd stringer running a practice team. If he was that good he would have started over Keenum Monday night. Preseason doesn’t count for a reason!

      • Jordan Musser

        Come on Cornbread. He is a QB with all the attributes a top notch QB should possess – size, arm strength, accuracy and vision. I am sure they want to do what they planned on doing with Teddy when he was drafted and that is to hopefully not play him at all his rookie season and let him develop and learn.
        Take a look at Trubisky this past Monday night. He was a top 5 pick and looked… MEH… on primetime. He was 12-25 for 120 something yards. Granted he was playing a very good defense and he has virtually no playmakers outside of his two RB’s. All these young QB’s would be best served learning from the sidelines if possible or if you’re plan is to not make the playoffs then go ahead and let him start like Derek Carr and Carson Wentz in their rookie campaigns.

  • Cornbread

    The only thing certain with Keenum is, we’re going to finish the season .500 or worse if he’s our starter for the rest of the season. GB, WASH,CAR,DET and possibly ATL are all losses. All have defenses that Keenum has never performed well against.

    • Nick Wells

      Keenum has been the Vikings MVP up until now. I don’t care about his past—how is he playing now?—pretty darn good. In baseball Jake Arrieta of the Cubs struggled many years until becoming a top pitcher. Perhaps the same could happen with Keenum? I feel very confident with him at QB—-up to now. Lets see what happens.

      • Cornbread

        Ummm… he’s a .500 qb now, that’s how he’s playing. And that’s what our season will be if Keenum is the only option. Pitt/Det both loses against good defenses, TB/Chi both wins against bad defenses, pardon me if I see a measurable pattern in his career. Keenum has been in the league for five years, is almost 30, what you see, is what he is!

    • Jordan Musser

      GBx2, BAL, CIN, WAS, ATL are all toss ups and will be close games. We should beat CAR, DET, CHI, CLE and LAR. If we win the games we should win and split the toss up games that gives us 11-5 record. Even if we give one away that puts us at 10-6 and in the NFC this year that should be good enough for a playoff birth.

  • Gordon Guffey

    I like Keenum ~ While I would rather have a healthy Bradford I dont see much difference between him and Teddy other than Keenum seems to have the better deep ball ~ The thing I have to remind myself about this young man is the players he has had around him before he got to the Vikings ~

    The Steelers game is on the Vikings because they held out hope for Bradford and only let Keenum know the morning of the game he was the starter ~ He has played vs the Bucs and then he faced the Lions who lead or or close to the lead in INT’s and they kind of took Diggs and Thielen away ~ But over all he still played well in a tough NFCN game ~ The he came in and won the Bears game in the second half ~

    I see no room or reason for B!tching about his play ~ Its not like he has know he was the starter for the first 5 week nor did he get all the reps with the first unit in OTA’s or the preseason ~ But if Teddy can out play him once he is ready then bring him on when he is ready ~ Otherwise I think the Vikings were smart for signing Keenum this offseason ~ He is light years better than what Hill had to offer ~

    • Jordan Musser

      spot on

    • lolwut

      Um, Teddy is waaaay better than Keenum. Watch Case’s ball placement against GB and tell me its as good as Teddy’s.

      • Gordon Guffey

        We will have to agree to disagree on this one for now ~ We’ll have to see how he fits Shurmur offense first ~ Heck we dont if Teddy will even be able to roll out at this point ~ If he is head a shoulders about Case then great ~ You want get any b!tching from me ~

  • K Trott

    Case is not going to win against the packers. He is a backup. He can pull out a game against weak opponents but look at his performances against Pittsburgh and then Detroit. Without Sam or Teddy the Vikings are in trouble against teams that are solid or better. Face the facts, he is a backup for a reason.

    • Jake Johnson

      Hard to argue with this. Although I will say the three fumbles killed the Vikings against Detroit- nothing to do with Keenum. The McKinnon fumble in particular was inexcusable. Keenum was leading a solid drive…..enter wildcat. Horrible call, worse execution. Shurmur got what he deserved on that play.

  • JonasGrumby

    Case is the best!

  • cka2nd

    I can still see us going 10-6, assuming no more injuries to key personnel. The defense is excellent, the receiving corps very good, the offensive line solid and still improving, the running backs still improved over last year, the special teams mostly good. Guys like Treadwell and Diggs are still blocking well even when they aren’t catching the ball.

    Keenum is the starting QB until he strings together two or three bad games in a row AND either Bradford, Bridgewater or Sloter look ready to play. Beyond that, I’m not ready to make any definitive judgment about the future of the QB position. In an absolutely Worst. Case. Scenario. where we cannot count on either Bradford or Bridgewater starting next year nor afford to re-sign Keenum at twice or triple his current $2 million salary for three or four years as a back-up/maybe starter, I could see us signing Drew Brees for the Super Bowl run this team is built for over the next three years and drafting a “QB of the future” to compete with Sloter.

    This team has been built to be a Super Bowl contender. Bridgewater was the guy Spielman, Zimmer and Co. thought would be the QB to lead that team. Bradford was the expensive rental who gave us a shot at the SB last year or this. It didn’t work out last year but it sure looked like it might against the Saints, or when Bradford got healthy given how much progress we’ve seen in the other offensive units. Keenum may be the guy we have to ride to the 2017 playoffs, but if Rex Grossman can lead a team to a Super Bowl and Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl, I’m not willing to write off this season, or Keenum, just yet.

    • Jordan Musser

      Duuuuuude could you imagine brees next year with Diggs, Theiilen, Rudy, Cook, Treadwell and possibly Floyd again and with our defense. You could be dreaming up the first undefeated team in the 16 game schedule era to win a super bowl.

      • cka2nd

        Always nice to be reminded that the Pats lost that Super Bowl. Thanks, Jordan.

  • styx rogan

    Pack in a route 44-14


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