Minnesota Vikings: The case for Teddy Bridgewater

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 18: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 18: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

Teddy Bridgewater or Case Keenum? It’s the ultimate Minnesota Vikings debate right now. Let’s dive into why Teddy Bridgewater deserves the starting quarterback job.

Based on the eye test, most fans seem to be Team Case Keenum when it comes to who should be the Minnesota Vikings‘ starting quarterback when they return from the bye in Week 10. To their credit, they have a fantastic argument… “Keenum has led the Vikings to a 5-2 record as the quarterback, so why fix what’s not broken?” Honestly, it’s hard to argue against that and everything in me wants to ride that wave.

Yet, there’s two sides to every debate and when it comes to this quarterback controversy, you can’t ignore the other side of the it. Simply, it’s hard to root against Teddy Bridgewater after everything he’s been through in the last year and a half. I mean, after he blew out his knee prior to last season, there was legitimate concern he’d never make it back to the field. Now, here we are, debating whether the Vikings should consider putting him in as the starting quarterback.

Before diving into Bridgewater’s case, it’s important to note that justifying a Teddy return to the field based on the fact you think he’s our quarterback of the future is not a good argument. Actually, it’s pathetic. Yes, he may be, but Minnesota is in prime position to win the NFC North and make a playoff run. The focus should be on what this team needs to win football games right now. Plain and simple.

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Next, the argument that a player shouldn’t lose his starting spot on the team because of an injury is utter bologna. In this case, I’ve literally seen this argument and it makes me want to pull my hair out…. if I had any to pull. Jokes aside, injuries are a part of the game and the only way to justify that argument is if the injured player has established himself as a top player in the league. Other than that, there’s simply no argument, especially if the team finds success with someone else.

Well, now that we got those arguments out-of-the-way. Why should Teddy Bridgewater become the starting quarterback after the bye?  Well, it’s rather simple, Keenum hasn’t been doing anything the average quarterback can’t do on a great team.

Of course, the Vikings have won games with him at quarterback. There’s no arguing that. But, he’s also had plenty of help behind a much improved offensive line and offensive standouts Jerick McKinnon and Adam Thielen. Not to mention, an elite Vikings defense that’s held opposing offenses in check for much of the season. In reality, Keenum’s stat line of 1,610 yards on 63.9 percent passing with seven touchdowns and three interceptions isn’t setting the world on fire by any means.

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Additionally, Keenum hasn’t been asked to overcome many deficits. Yet, when the Vikings have trailed, the numbers are far worse for the 29-year old. When trailing, he’s completed 53-for-93 for 600 yards and one touchdown compared to going 64-for-88 for 714 yards, five touchdowns and one interception when winning. Although he hasn’t turned the ball over when trailing, he hasn’t done much to help the team win either, especially in losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions.

Sure, not a big deal right now, Keenum and the offense is doing enough to win with the defense shutting down opposing offenses. But, let’s not ignore the fact that this team could be in trouble if/when they face a large deficit. This may not occur in the near future, but if the Vikings expect to make the playoffs, they are bound to face some top offenses. This definitely holds true if they were to make a Super Bowl run and face a high-powered offense like the Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots.

While the Vikings defense is phenomenal, it’s hard to expect them to completely shutdown teams like that. Even a team like the Philadelphia Eagles could cause problems and force the Vikings quarterback to carry the team to victory. So, that begs the question: Can Keenum be the man to carry the Vikings to victory when facing a large deficit? Especially against a contending team? I’m not so sure.

This isn’t to discount what Keenum has done. He’s done everything a backup quarterback is supposed to do. Fact is though, he’s just that, a backup quarterback. There’s a reason he wasn’t starting on an NFL team at the beginning of the year.

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On the other end, who knows if Bridgewater is that guy either? I mean, it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen him in action. But, if Vikings management and coaches believe his upside is higher, that he has a better chance of putting the team on his back when they need him to, then you have to strongly consider him. It’s worth noting Bridgewater was a tad better when trailing than winning in 2015, leading the Vikings to the playoffs in the process.

Maybe, Bridgewater is no better than Keenum, but even then, the team is deep around the quarterback position. In the worst case scenario, they could always go back to Keenum. Yeah, he may not be too happy about being benched in the first place, but he’ll gladly take the job back over if need be.

Main point is, Keenum has been solid, but he hasn’t been solid enough to deem irreplaceable. So, if the Vikings feel Bridgewater is an upgrade after practicing only a couple of weeks, you start him in hopes he plays at a higher level. If he doesn’t, there’s still a good chance he performs just as effectively as Keenum.

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All things considered, I’m not convinced Bridgewater is ready to return yet, but his ceiling could end up being the deciding factor. Personally, I stay stick with Keenum for the time being, but it’s not like Team Bridgewater fans have an awful argument here. Regardless, the Vikings should feel good about having both quarterbacks on a team that’s experienced far greater problems at the position.