Every Minnesota Vikings fan knows the situation at the quarterback position. Teddy Bridgewater was drafted late in the first round after many thought he would be the first quarterback off the board. He played a season and a half of decent football, then fate took over. On a hot August day last preseason, Teddy suffered a catastrophic knee injury. It was suggested more than once that it was potentially career-ending. Already having one of the NFL’s most stout defenses, the team went out and traded a first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles to obtain Sam Bradford. They decided that sacrificing a first-round draft pick was worth what Bradford could do for the offense. Don’t turn the ball over and don’t lose games for them. Sam does those things fairly well, when healthy.
Bradford played well for 15 games in 2016. Early this season, however, his twice-repaired knee began giving him problems. They were enough to sideline him indefinitely, and now his future with the team looks grim at best.
In steps career backup Case Keenum.
Vikings Quarterbacks: The Case For Case Keenum
Keenum has played amiably to date. The Vikings are 5-2 in the NFC North, and their most hated rival (and also most talented) the Green Bay Packers just lost their Canton-bound quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the year.
Now, after over a year of rehab, Bridgewater has been activated off the PUP list and has resumed practicing with the team. The question becomes, does Teddy give the team a better shot at the playoffs than Keenum does? This is assuming that Bradford is pretty much done in purple, as has been overtly suggested by several talking heads.
When you dive a little deeper into the three quarterback’s stats, they are actually all fairly similar. All three have a completion percentage near 65%, a total QBR of 60, and about the same touchdown to interception ratio, save for Sam throwing an abnormally low five picks in 2016, to his twenty touchdowns. Looking back at his career, those numbers will not hold up.
So where’s the difference? What breaks the tie? The answer is simple, actually: Sack percentage. When dropping back to pass, Teddy gets sacked about nine percent of the time, and Bradford ten. Keenum, on the other hand, only gets sacked two percent of the time he drops back. Why is this important? Because the ball is out of his hands quicker than the other two and that means less negative yardage plays, more moving the chains. Keenum’s is admittedly a smaller sample size, but for his entire career, his sack percentage is just a little over five.
Why Case Keenum?
I am not saying that Case Keenum is the long-term answer for the Vikings. Far from it, in fact. I am saying there is zero reason to try to rush Teddy back onto the field. He has not played in an NFL game in five hundred-some odd days now and is recovering from an injury many thought would effectively end his career in the NFL. I don’t see any logical reason to force him onto the field anytime soon, barring an injury to Keenum or a series of terrible games.
Teddy Bridgewater, if he continues to regain his health and fully recover, is likely Minnesota’s answer at quarterback for the long term. That by itself is a big question mark. He remained in Minnesota for his rehab and stayed around his teammates. By all accounts, he is a well respected and well-liked team leader. That means a lot for a quarterback, and when he is completely ready, he should be inserted as the Vikings starter. Until that time, it is in the teams best interest to let him be on the sidelines, continue to rehab, and come back when he is one hundred percent.
Until then, the Packers have become much less of a threat this season, the Bears are in full-on rebuilding mode, and the Lions still have Matthew Stafford, who cannot win in the Playoffs or against good teams in general.
The case for Case Keenum is pretty simple: He won’t lose you many games with poor decisions, he will keep your offense moving, and occasionally, he will look like Tom Brady. At 5-2, the playoffs are a real option and should be the goal. Allowing Keenum to keep starting gives the Vikings the very best chance to get to and advance in the playoffs.
After all, Wide Left now plays for the Seahawks, so we can all just worry about the quarterback position.