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No surprise: Case Keenum’s success has gone from unexpected to expected

There were 25 seconds left in the second quarter Sunday when Case Keenum’s short pass for Stefon Diggs fell incomplete. Keenum then hit on back-to-back throws to Michael Floyd and Adam Thielen before the half came to an end with the Vikings holding a one-point lead.

Keenum’s incompletion to Diggs was long forgotten 30 minutes later as the Vikings departed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with a 14-9 victory, but the misfire was notable for one reason.

It was the last time the Vikings quarterback did not complete a pass in the game. He was 13-of-13 for 117 yards with a touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in the second half, meaning Keenum’s last 15 passes did not touch the ground.

A few months back this might have been considered a remarkable achievement for a guy who had spent much of his first four seasons as a backup, but Keenum’s success is no longer a surprise.

He finished 25-of-30 for 227 yards with two touchdowns in leading the Vikings to their eighth consecutive victory.

“This is a great defense,” Keenum said of the Falcons. “We knew it coming in but still, playing against them, it’s kind of like, ‘Woe, these guys are good.’ They’re fast and they’ve got a great rush. They get off the ball. So we had our work cut out for us, and I think the offensive line knew that coming in and they did a great job.”

Keenum was sacked twice but, as he’s done so many times this season, he was able to avoid being brought down at other times because of his ability to move around and avoid pressure. It was fitting that former Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who lives in Georgia, was at the game. Tarkenton was the first NFL quarterback to make scrambling an art and Keenum seems to have some of the same abilities that made Francis so effective.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked after Sunday’s game about some of the things that have surprised him about Keenum, who was signed to be the Vikings backup but took over after Sam Bradford aggravated a knee injury in Week 1 and has started all but one game since.

“The biggest thing is Case is making the plays he needs to make and he’s not trying to overdue things,” Zimmer said. “Sometimes, maybe in the Washington game, he tried to make some plays that he really shouldn’t have been trying to make. He’s staying within himself. I didn’t probably know that he was as good of movement guy in the pocket as he is because he’s done a great job with that this year.”

Keenum threw two picks in the Vikings’ victory at Washington on Nov. 12, but the veteran has not thrown an interception in 98 attempts over three games since.

While Zimmer won’t officially declare Keenum as his starter for the rest of the season, leading to speculation that the now-healthy Teddy Bridgewater might get an opportunity, there is little chance Zimmer is going to lift Keenum. There are two scenarios under which Bridgewater could end up getting on the field: 1) Keenum gets injured; or 2) the Vikings’ playoff position is locked up going into Week 17 and Bridgewater plays against Chicago.

Nonetheless, Zimmer was asked Sunday if Keenum will be the starter next week in Carolina. “Yeah,” Zimmer said.

It’s unclear if Keenum, or anyone with the Vikings, even cares at this point about how much clarity Zimmer provides on this topic. The Vikings are 10-2, in complete control of the NFC North and Keenum is 8-2 as the team’s starter.

The latest victory was perhaps Minnesota’s most impressive of the season and featured a perfect second half from Keenum. Given the way things are going for Keenum and the Vikings this season that success came as a surprise to few.

  • Theguds

    He was off a bit on that TD pass to Mckinnon though….Mckinnon had to bend over a little too much.

    • Douglas Pitre

      Did he make the catch? It takes 2 people to complete a pass.
      What kind of BS comment is that?
      Are another guy that resides in Teddy’s jock.

      • Theguds

        I thought it was clear that I was joking:)) And it was in response to these clown writers and pundits at ESPN who have been critiquing Case this was.

        • Drediock

          I saw your intention as obvious too

      • Theguds

        #NeverTeddy

    • IrreverentOne

      Did you get that info from McKinnon or is it just your opinion?

    • Gordon Guffey

      LOL you to funny ~

  • badzeitgeist

    Scenario 3: Vikings far enough ahead of Cinci to bring Bridgewater in for the 4th quarter.

    • Jordan Musser

      No reason to pinpoint Cincinnati any game up big at the end could get Teddy in

  • Douglas Dean Larsen

    Case isn’t a utility bill. Its Overdo.

    • Rubadubdub

      not to mention it’s whoa not woe

  • Jon Robinson

    I’d have to say to the naysayers that Case has outperformed TB at this point….Let’s stop any talk about replacement and realize we have a potentially good backup that is not tested at this point.

  • Gordon Guffey

    Wow Judd I’m starting to agree with you more and more ~ Tip of my hat for another fine report ~

  • Gordon Guffey

    10~2 ~ No this does not mean a single thing outside of a dam fine outstanding 2017 season to date ~ And I will gladly take it ~ One more win and I believe {{{ you guys correct me if I’m wrong and I’m sure you will 😉 }}} the Vikings lock up the NFC North ~ That will mean something ~

    This is a team sport ~ No one player is bigger than the team ~ And wasn’t it time that someone other than the Vikings ST screwed up ~

  • Bill Colley

    This isn’t a dilemma. So many teams with no solid QBs & the Vikes are looking at 3 when Bradford is healthy. Such a great ride!

  • David Prestin

    Good read…..now I’d like an article on “what will Vikings do when shurmer takes a HQ job in 2018?” Is there a chance Vikings would keep this offense or would we have to completely change? That will have a huge impact on the choice of QB next season and beyond.

    • cka2nd

      I certainly hope that they would keep the basic system, since the skill players and the OL fit it so well.

    • Jordan Musser

      Shurmur isn’t going anywhere

  • William Pappas

    Case Keenum is simply a better quarterback than Bridgewater. He sees the field better, moves in the pocket better and is a lot more accurate downfield. AND he can run effectively when the need arises. I agree that if they have a 3 touchdown lead in the 4th it might be good to get Bridgewater some time on the field to get his feet under him. Keenum could go down at any point.

    • Theguds

      Spot on. Read your remarks on Bradford as well. And again spot on. If Bradford could stay healthy he could be elite I think. Spielman needs to think long and hard about letting Bradford go. B’s Doctor first said his knee was fine other than the bone bruise. Then they scoped it and they found bone spurs and some other things which could have been the cause of his pain. They were able to clean everything up so B could be good to go next year or by playoffs should Case go down.

      • William Pappas

        Wow, didn’t know that Bradford surgery so potentially successful. Yes, Bradford I think could be absolutely elite in Pat’s offense. He may not move as well in the pocket but man, his passing accuracy is deadly. Both those quarterbacks I think could continue to be better than good as opposed to Bridgewater who simply doesn’t have the arm or accuracy or ability to find receivers. Watching Bridgewater try to throw downfield was painful. When the ball was released everyone expected it to be overthrown or simply incomplete. Also remember how many times his passes were blocked. His awkward delivery releases the ball really low and those inches are critical to zipping a pass mid-range. I’ve felt all along that Bridgewater has too many structural liabilities to even be an average QB in NFL. Keenum will be expensive to keep. Very difficult QB decision coming up but it’s not the one everyone thinks. It’s Bradford or Keenum!

  • cka2nd

    Third scenario: Keenum has a truly awful game or two in a row, and Zimmer doesn’t want to see that turn into a streak. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst, folks.

  • Rod Morgan

    Case played well in many respects yesterday…but am I the only one who felt like he wasn’t able to throw the ball downfield with any accuracy? the 13-13 streak to end the game was a result of a VERY conservative game plan that had Keenum throwing the ball 0-5 yards. Don’t get me wrong..Keenum is displaying a good pocket presence, is making good choices, and taking advantage of matches as they dictate. When I watch him play however, I just can’t help but see him as very inaccurate beyond 10 yards and constantly flirting with disaster… I worry that he will get exposed in the playoffs and the gap between Keenum and a player like Wilson/Rodgers/brady.. will be too much for our defense to overcome.

  • D Jav

    And a positive scenario down the road – whichever QB(s) the Vikes don’t resign (we can agree that we can’t keep all 3 QBs) – all have starting potential and can start for their new team. This means possibly a 3rd or 4th round compensatory pick (if Vikes don’t sign more FA than # they lose).





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