Mike Zimmer has us right where he wants us and don’t think he isn’t enjoying it.
In the midst of a 7-2 season in which the Vikings are sitting atop the NFC North, the fourth-year head coach announced Monday that he knew who would be his starting quarterback in Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams but that he had no intention of announcing it.
“Why would I tell you when I haven’t told anybody else?” Zimmer said.
Zimmer’s plan is to inform his players on Wednesday whether Case Keenum will continue in the starting role, or if Teddy Bridgewater will return to the job he held before injuring his knee in August 2016.
Many of us are expecting Zimmer to make the transition from Keenum to Bridgewater at some point in the coming weeks, but the guess here is that Zimmer has every intention of starting Keenum for the fifth consecutive game on Sunday and for the eighth time in nine games. A reported surfaced shortly after Zimmer’s press conference on Monday that Keenum would get the nod.
Bridgewater was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list last week and putting him in against the 7-2 Rams seems like it might be rushing things. Keenum threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-30 victory over Washington on Sunday, but he also tossed two second-half picks that clearly still had Zimmer miffed a day later.
The Vikings, of course, are no stranger to week long speculation about who might be their starting quarterback.
Remember, when Brad Childress wouldn’t tell us whether Tarvaris Jackson or Kelly Holcomb would get the start? Fans and the Vikings’ opponents both chuckled at the absurdity of trying to keep that a secret.
The difference is that Zimmer appears to have two pretty good choices and it wouldn’t be surprising if he keeps us guessing about his starter for weeks to come.
I still don’t think Keenum can get you where you want to go in the playoffs, but the veteran backup deserves a lot of credit for stepping in for Sam Bradford after Week 1 and doing a very good job. The temptation to make the change to Bridgewater would be based on the curiosity of thinking he might be able to return from what appeared to be a potentially career-ending injury and guide the offense deep into the playoffs.
There are many who want to stick with Keenum and based on his first-half play on Sunday (11 of 14 for 188 yards with three touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating) that makes sense. But then you have the back-to-back passes in the second half that ended with interceptions, or his play in the first half against Baltimore and Cleveland when it looked as if Keenum should be back on the sideline wearing a baseball cap.
It’s those moments that explain why Zimmer doesn’t throw his full support behind Keenum and why it’s a good bet that he eventually will give Bridgewater a chance this season.
Will that opportunity come Sunday? Probably not.
But Zimmer isn’t about to pass up the chance to keep us guessing.